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What maternity benefits are you entitled to as a freelancer in Italy?

Elaine Allaby
Elaine Allaby - [email protected]
What maternity benefits are you entitled to as a freelancer in Italy?
A mother and child stroll along the Sant' Angelo bridge in Rome. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP.

While employees in Italy are entitled to maternity leave and maternity pay, freelancers have to navigate a different set of rules and considerations.

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Being self-employed can be a liberating and exciting career choice. But while self-employed people enjoy flexibility and independence, when it comes to maternity benefits, the situation is more difficult than for traditional employees in Italy.

Here’s what maternity benefits self-employed women in Italy are entitled to and what they should be aware of during pregnancy and childbirth.

Maternity leave

Self-employed mothers in Italy with a Partita IVA (VAT number) are entitled to five months of congedo di maternità, or maternity leave, paid at 80 percent of their average monthly earnings for the previous tax year.

Your day rate is calculated based on your total earnings for the year divided by 365 - so annoyingly, it isn't adjusted to account for weekends and holidays.

READ ALSO: What maternity benefits are available in Italy in 2024?

You'll need to claim the amount from INPS, Italy's National Institute for Social Security, to which a sizeable portion of your pre-tax earnings go as a freelancer.

Although many of Italy's workers are on Partita Iva, the process still isn't very standardised or streamlined, and may involve multiple conversations with your commercialista (Italian accountant/tax advisor) and visits to the Centro Assistenza Fiscale, or CAF (tax assistance centre).

This leave is typically taken in the two months before your due date and the three months after giving birth, but the window can be moved depending on personal preference and medical needs.

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

You can take five months of maternity leave paid at 80 percent as a freelancer in Italy. Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP.

Parental leave

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.

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.

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

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

Bear in mind that maternity and parental pay is taxed in Italy, so you'll need to set aside some of the money for next year's tax payments.

"The congedo or l’indennità replaces income lost while on maternity... income that is otherwise taxable income," meaning the replacement benefit "is also taxable income," says financial advisor Daniel Shillito of D&G Property Advice.

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.

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

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.

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.

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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 instalments 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.

Please note that The Local cannot provide advice on tax issues. For help with filing taxes in Italy, contact your local tax assistance centre (Centro Assistenza Fiscale, or CAF) or consult an accountant (commercialista) or other qualified tax professional.

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