Leave policies in Italy: towards a new scenario?

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivistapeer review


The Italian norms protecting the family with regard to maternity and childhood have been considerably modified in the last few decades, mainly with the aim of improving children’s wellbeing but also in order to create better conditions for reconciling maternity and work rights. Following the ground-breaking laws Nos. 1204 of 1971 and 903 of 1977 - which offered protection to working mothers and equal treatment of men and women at work respectively - Act No. 53 of 8 March 2000 (Provisions on Maternity and Paternity Safeguard and Support, the Right to Care and Time Coordination in the Cities) significantly changed legislation regulating employment rights in relation to childcare. For the first time in Italy, in fact, it introduces the individual right of male employees with small children to take parental leave, thus undermining the idea of childcare as a women-only responsibility. Besides, the law considers the parental couple (rather than the individual parents) the essential reference for the child’s growth process. The underlying vision of parenting is thus a co-responsible inter-parental relationship Having summarized strengths and weaknesses of Act No. 53 of 8 March 2000 this paper explores the great transformation processes occurred in the Italian legislation on leaves: the implementation of Jobs Act (Legislative Decree 15 June 2015, n. 80) that has developed innovative pathways; and, above all, the measures contained in the Budget Law 2017 (Law of 11 December 2016 n. 232) and in the Budget Law 2018 (Law of 27 December 2017 n. 205)- the main rules laid down by the Italian legal system to adjust economic policy in the next three years through fiscal policy measures. The Italian case raises wider questions about the design of parental leave policies, their impact on parenting practices and the gendering of care: the measures introduced in Italy actually fosters a “short-leave male breadwinner” model (Wall, 2008), where the involvement of fathers in care is still very limited; they also confirm the centrality of women to domestic and care work, as well as their scarce presence in the labour market, compared with the majority of other EU countries (Rossi, Carrà, & Mazzucchelli, 2009). The new norms (Jobs Act and Budget laws) introduce a significant cultural shift in the legislative context: from a culture centred on the sharing of parenting and on the enhancement of the family as main care actor to a workfare culture, marked by a strong gender segregation and where the primary care actor is external to the family and kinship network (nanny or day-care). For a better and complete understanding of the law and its impact, it is hovewer necessary to look at the interplay of different family policies, i.e. on leave, childcare, working time regulation and tax benefits (Ejrnæs, 2008). It is moreover important try to understand the complex relationship between the arena of welfare policies and the wider configuration of socio-economic and institutional frameworks within which the Italian welfare regime is placed. Whilst highlighting the extent to which parental leave is used – more and more lacking datum in recent years - the literature does not tell us about parents’ satisfaction with the solutions they have adopted. The latest findings on reconciliation (ISTAT, 2011), however, show that for over a quarter of parents the most crucial time is their children’s school-age years, also stretching to after their entry into higher education. This challenges the general belief that the work-family reconciliation problem coincides solely with children’s early years (0-3). Extending parental leave until a child’s 12th year already shows a certain openness towards understanding families’ real care needs but the above data, however, shows that this understanding is still insufficient. An analysis of parents’ apparent motives for not using the leave (ISTAT, 2011) also shows that th
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)57-78
Numero di pagine22
RivistaRevista del Ministerio de Empleo y Seguridad Social
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2018


  • childcare
  • leave policies
  • parental couple
  • work and family reconciliation


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