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EXPLAINED: What maternity benefits are available in Italy in 2024?

Elaine Allaby
Elaine Allaby - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: What maternity benefits are available in Italy in 2024?
What maternity benefits are mothers in Italy entitled to? Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP.

Italy is relatively generous when it comes to providing maternity benefits - but to take full advantage of them, you'll need to keep up to speed with the country's often-changing rules.

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Discovering you're expecting a child is exciting - but once the initial surprise has worn off, most people's thoughts turn to practical considerations around childcare and increased living costs.

If you're an Italian resident who recently found out you're pregnant, you might be wondering what forms of government support are available to you.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: What is Italy’s government doing to help families?

Italy offers various financial benefits to new parents, but knowing how to access them involves familiarising yourself with rules and procedures which often change year on year.

Here are some of the benefits available to mothers in Italy in 2024.

Maternity leave

Both employed and self-employed mothers in Italy are entitled to five months of congedo di maternità, or maternity leave, paid at at least 80 percent of their salary.

By default, this leave is typically taken in the two months before your due date and the three months after giving birth.

With a note from your doctor and the agreement of your employer, however, it’s possible to divide this time differently, taking all five months off after delivery or taking even more time beforehand if necessary for the health of you and your baby.

READ ALSO: What is an ISEE number in Italy and how do you get it?

The 80 percent is paid by INPS, Italy's National Institute for Social Security; for employees, often your employer will top up the remaining 20 percent so you get full pay for all five months.

If you're self-employed with a Partita IVA (VAT number), you'll receive five months paid at 80 percent of your average monthly salary from the previous tax year, and will need to claim directly from INPS.

While employees must stop working for the full five months, self-employed mothers have the option of continuing to work while on maternity leave.

Parental leave for employees

Besides maternity leave, Italy also provides employees with up to nine months of paid congedo parentale, or parental leave. This doesn't have to be taken as soon as the child is born, though it can be.

Each parent is separately eligible to take three months of paid parental leave - six in total between them.

For 2024, following changes made in Italy's 2024 budget law, two of these six months are paid at 80 percent of the leave-taking parent's salary. These two months' leave must be taken within the first six years of the child's life and can be shared between the parents.

New mothers in Italy can take both maternity and parental leave. Photo by Marco RAVAGLI / AFP.

The remaining four months' leave is paid at 30 percent, and must be taken within the first 12 years of the child's life.

Between them, parents can then take a further three months at 30 percent pay; this must also be taken with the first 12 years of the child's life.

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On top of those nine months of optional paid parental leave, parents can take an additional unpaid tenth month, rising to an eleventh month if the father has taken at least three months of parental leave. For parents on low incomes, these extra two months will be paid at 30 percent.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to raise a child in Italy?

As the mother, that means that on top of your five months' maternity leave, you could take an additional two months paid at 80 percent and four months paid at 30 percent, plus up to two more months unpaid, or paid at 30 percent for low-income households.

If you're a single mother, you can take the full nine months of paid leave yourself, plus an additional month of unpaid leave.

Parental leave for the self-employed

On top of your five months of congedo di maternità paid at 80 percent of your income, as a self-employed mother in Italy you can take a further three months of congedo parentale paid at 30 percent (self-employed fathers are eligible for the same amount).

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This leave must be taken within the first year of the child's life, and you must have paid contributions to INPS in the month before going on leave.

You should apply directly to INPS before the start of the leave, and - unlike with maternity leave - must stop working during the three months.

Self-employed mothers can access three months of paid parental leave. Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP.

Child benefits

Universal allowance

In 2022, Italy did away with many individual benefits and tried to simplify the system by creating the assegno unico e universale, a single, universal monthly allowance that increases with each child.

It's means-tested, meaning that to qualify for anything beyond the minimum payment you will need an ISEE rating (a calculation based on your household's income and relative wealth).

The universal allowance payment ranges from a minimum of €50 per month for families with a higher income (those assessed as having an ISEE of over €40,000 per year, or those who don't provide an ISEE), to €175 a month for families on the lowest incomes - those with an ISEE of below €15,000.

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It's payable up until the child turns 21 (though the amount drops for dependent children aged 18-21), and can be claimed even before birth, from the seventh month of pregnancy.

Both EU and non-EU nationals can apply, as long as you have lived in Italy for two years or hold an employment contract of at least six months. And any amounts you receive won’t count toward your taxable income. Instructions on claiming the benefit are available on the INPS website.

Mothers bonus

In its 2024 Budget Law, Italy's government introduced the bonus mamme, or mothers bonus, under which mothers on permanent contracts who have at least three children are exempt from paying their own pension contributions.

For 2024 only, the bonus also applies to mothers of two children, up until the month that their youngest child turns ten.

READ ALSO: How does the cost of childcare in Italy compare to other countries?

To receive the benefit, you must notify your employer in writing that you qualify; the sum, which amounts to a few extra tens of euros per month, will be automatically credited to your payslip.

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Nursery bonus

For children under three years of age, you can also request the bonus asilo nido, or nursery school bonus, to offset the cost of nursery school fees.

This ranges from €1,500 per year (for households with an ISEE of over €40,000 per year or those who don't provide an ISEE) up to €3,000 for low income families with one child or €3,600 for families with two children, one of whom was born after the start of 2024.

The amount is paid in monthly installments and may not exceed the cost of the fees themselves. The benefit can also be used to pay for home care if the child has a chronic illness that prevents them from attending nursery school.

The application deadline is December 31st, 2024; applications can be made online via the INPS website.

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