Parental leave (optional maternity leave): how it works, when to ask and everything you need to know

INPS parental leave, better known also as optional maternity leave, is a period of paid abstention from work, linked to the birth of children, both for workers and employees, as well as for collaborators and freelancers registered in the separate management.

A cushion in addition to that of compulsory maternity (Legislative Decree 151/2001) which consists of 180 days of leave compensated for 30% of the salary.

The two parents, on the whole, can take 10 months (therefore 6 + 4 or 5 + 5, without exceeding 180 days each). In this case, however, only the first 180 days (overall) will be compensated, while the remaining periods can be requested, but without compensation.

“I have just uploaded the documentation to request optional maternity leave in my reserved area on the Sportello Mamme website. However, I would like to ask for only 3 of the 6 months that await me. I don’t know how it works if it is a request that must be submitted monthly or if we can already request it for the next 3 months. Caterina “

There are many emails that our consultants receive asking for information on optional maternity. Here is a small guide.

When to apply for parental leave

The application must be made before the start of the required leave period. If you apply after you have started your leave, you will only be paid for the days following the application date.

For example, if you start your leave on October 1st but apply on October 10th, you will only be paid for the days from December 10th onwards. Remember that parental leave must be requested within the first 12 years of your child’s life.

How to apply for parental leave 2022

Parental leave can be used by the beneficiary’s free choice. The absence is “covered” with a salary paid by INPS, but to a lesser extent than the compulsory leave and, as a rule, without any integration paid by the company in the case of employees.

Employees must communicate the periods of optional abstention to the company according to the deadlines set by the CCNL or, if this does not provide for it, with at least 5 days’ notice.

On the other hand, INPS simply submits the request, electronically, before the start of the leave or even on the day itself.

The application in case of hourly use must be presented to the company no less than 2 days before. Even in this case, INPS simply submits the request before the start of the leave or on the day itself. Attention: an online service other than ordinary abstention is provided for hourly leave.

Self-employed workers or women enrolled in the separate management must submit the leave application before the required period, again through the dedicated INPS service. If the application is submitted later, only the days following the date of submission of the application will be paid. For VAT numbers you only have to notify INPS.

Parental leave 2022: who can take advantage of it and for how long

  • All employees can enjoy parental leave, with the exception of domestic and home workers;
  • You can take advantage of INPS parental leave up to the age of 12 of the minor according to different duration limits depending on whether both parents or only one of them are present;
  • The INPS salary is paid for 6 months, extendable to 10 or 11 if certain income conditions are met;
  • The least protected range is that of mothers with VAT number. In fact, the freelancers registered in the separate management have 6 months to use within the child’s 3 years;
  • Self-employed business owners have parental leave for 3 months to be used within the year of the child. Sole proprietorships are not completely excluded.

The news for the year 2022

  • Parental leave will also be paid when taken between the ages of 6 and 12 of the child, regardless of the income of the worker who requests it. Furthermore, the duration of the indemnifiable period increases from 6 to 9 months. Currently the allowance recognized in the days covered by parental leave, equal to 30% of the salary, is due only in the first 6 months of leave and only when this is used in the first 6 years of the child. Between the ages of 6 and 8, however, parental leave is paid only under certain conditions.
  • Another novelty is that which extends the right to parental leave for the single parent, which passes from 10 to 11 months.

NB: These changes will not be operational until the implementation of these rules by INPS.

To date, therefore, we still have to follow what was originally established by the legislation on parental leave.

Can adoptive and foster mothers also request it?

Yes. The adoptive or foster mother is entitled to parental leave in the same way as a natural parent.

Who can not use them

The leave allowance is not due to

  • unemployed or suspended parents;
  • domestic worker parents;
  • home-working parents.

Children with severe disabilities

In the case of children with serious disabilities, the period of extension of parental leave remains up to 3 years and the allowance due to parents of 30%.

Can the father also take parental leave?

Certainly. The father can apply for parental leave.

You can also choose to request leave during the same period as the compulsory leave of the mother of your child (which for her begins the day after the birth) and therefore the leave of both parents will take place at the same time.

In addition, the father can take leave even if the mother does not work.

How long is the parental leave

The duration of parental leave varies according to who requests it.

  • If you are a dependent mother, the leave is for a maximum of 6 months;
  • If you are a dependent father, the period is 7 months. INPS gives you the opportunity to take advantage of your leave in a continuous or split period of at least 3 months. If you are a father then, for example, you can decide whether to use up the 7 months all together or break it into two short periods of 3 months and the last one of one month;
  • If you are a single parent, mother or father, the period is up to 10 months.
  • Workers enrolled in the separate INPS management 3 months within the 1st year of the child’s life;
  • Self-employed: 3 months within the first year of the child’s life.
  • Employees who adopt a child: the days of leave due are to the same extent as for natural parents, so they can take advantage of it within the first 12 years from the child’s entry into the family.

Parental leave allowance: how much is received

For employees, the allowance varies according to the age of the minor:

  • up to 6 years is entitled to an amount equal to 30% of the average daily wage, calculated considering the wage of the month preceding the start of the leave period;
  • from 6 to 8 years the leave is paid at 30% only in the case in which the worker is shown to be in severe economic hardship;
  • from 8 to 12 years of the child is not entitled to any salary.

For VAT numbers, parental leave is paid at 30% of the conventional salary foreseen for the year in which it is requested and it is necessary that, before proceeding to submit a specific application, it is necessary to verify that the contribution requirement is met.

While the employee collects contributions and allowances through direct reimbursement from the employer, the mother with the VAT number collects the contributions and allowances directly from INPS.

In the public sector, on the other hand, the national collective bargaining provides that the first 30 days are fully paid.

PLEASE NOTE: The law never refers to an obligation to abstain from work, as is instead provided for female employees. But unlike maternity, if leave is requested for self-employed persons, registered in the separate management and VAT numbers, abstention from work is MANDATORY.

Optional parental leave 2022: how it works

Optional maternity can be enjoyed on a continuous or split basis. The periods of absence can be daily or even hourly. In the case of the hourly absence period, use is governed by the collective agreement or, failing that, by the law. It is allowed to be absent for half of the average daily hours of the monthly pay period preceding the one during which the leave is taken. In summary, it means that if the average daily working time is 6 hours, the employee can be absent for 3 hours, 4 if the working day is 8 hours.

Attention: the right to indemnity expires within one year and runs from the day following the end of the indemnifiable period.

If you need information on parental leave (or optional maternity leave) you can request advice and support for submitting the application by registering for free on you will receive immediate response and the insights you need.

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