At work after motherhood: useful advice

What are the rights of a woman returning to work after the birth of a child? Compulsory abstention, parental leave, breastfeeding, … how does it work?

The rights of the working mothers are guaranteed by the  Consolidated Law on the protection and support of maternity and paternity  ( Legislative Decree 151/2001 ), to which are added the provisions of new decrees, aimed at ensuring a better reconciliation between family life and career.

First, the Act provides for the prohibition of use as workers in heavy and unhealthy work and the prohibition of dismissal. The first prohibition provides that workers, for the entire gestation period up to 7 months after delivery, must be exempt from the transportation and lifting of weights, even if this presupposes a change of role with the same pay range. With the second prohibition, it is not possible to dismiss the worker from the beginning of the gestation period until the child reaches the age of one year, with the exception of cases of: dismissal for just cause; termination of company activity; termination of the employment relationship by expiry of the term.

Article. 56 D.Lgs. 151/2001 protects the reintegration of new mothers at work, encouraging the return of workers to the workplace with the same role and dutiesthat they had before going on maternity leave. Sometimes, however, this does not happen, especially in small situations where the management compensates for the temporary absence of the worker modifying the organization chart, redistributing the activities among the employees or proceeding with a new recruitment. Surely it is not easy for the company to reorganize the workload for 8-9 months; however, if a real downsizing of the role against the worker is carried out, the latter may appeal to the Justice of Peace, to regain her job (or to play a different role, but compatible with her experience and professionalism) and request compensation for damages proportionate to the time of its demotion .

Mandatory abstention from the job it foresees the absence of the working woman the 2 months preceding the presumed date of the birth (on the basis of the date indicated on the medical certificate) and the 3 months after the birth. In these months the woman receives an allowance equal to 80% of the conventional salary. The obligatory post-partum abstention has also been extended to the working father, in case the mother's assistance to the newborn has become impossible due to death or serious illness of the mother herself. There is also the possibility of continuing to work until the 8th month of pregnancy, using only one month before delivery and 4 months after delivery, without the approval of a gynecologist of the National Health Service or a doctor competent for the health in the workplace. In case of premature birth,

In addition to the five months of compulsory abstention, the Italian law provides for optional abstention or parental leave, which allows both parents to stay longer with their child without losing their jobs. Within the first twelve years of the child's life, the mother or the father can take a total of 6-7 months (or 10 months if there is only one parent), receiving up to the sixth year of the child an indemnity of the INPS equal to 30% of the daily wage. For the months of optional abstention from the sixth up to the eighth year of life of the child, the mother or the father can receive from the INPS an economic allowance of 30%, but only if the family income is within the established limits From law. From the eighth to the twelfth year, leave is unpaid. Law 92/2012 defines the mandatory and optional leave for the father, who has the obligation to abstain one day from work within five months after the birth of the child, accepting an indemnity paid by INPS of 100%. He can also enjoy two additional days, in place of his mother, if she is enjoying maternity leave, always getting an allowance equal to 100% of the salary.

To facilitate the reconciliation of work-life, the  Legislative Decree no. 80/2015  made more flexible parental leave request, previously entrusted exclusively to the national collective bargaining. In the absence of a collective or company regulation, the worker can choose how to use the leave , requesting daily permits or single hours. The employer must be informed of this request with a notice of at least five days in the event of daily use, of two days in the case of use by hours.

Moreover, in the first year of the child's life, the worker can take one or two hours of rest per day (depending on whether the working time is part time or full time), enjoying paid breastfeeding permits .

For an in-depth analysis of the legislation and the recent provisions in favor of the rights of mothers at work, we recommend consulting the dedicated section on the Inps website .