Italy to offer paternity leave rules to tackle falling birthrate

Italy to offer paternity leave rules to tackle falling birthrate

Prime Minister Fumio Kihida has announced plans to overhaul the parental leave system, including a measure that will enable parents on leave to receive the same amount as their standard take-home pay, as well as other initiatives to tackle the falling birthrate.

Kishida stressed at a press conference on Friday that he wanted to change the mindset of the whole society. The prime minister said that the creation of a children-first society will be a common goal in various policy measures.

Kishida said if the trend continues, our country's economy and society will shrink, and it will become harder to maintain the social security system and regional communities. He said that the next six to seven years are our last chance to see if we can reverse the trend. Kishida said the government will aim to raise the percentage of fathers who take paternity leave to 50% by fiscal 2025 and 85% by 2030 to address the falling birthrate.

The paternity leave system will allow fathers to take up to four weeks off within eight weeks after the birth of a child, which will increase the benefits paid under the paternity leave system.

Fathers on paternity leave can receive 67% of their pay. The government wants to raise that figure to about 80%, which would equal the amount of standard take-home pay as new fathers are exempted from paying social insurance premiums while on parental leave.

After maternity leave, mothers who take parental leave can get an amount almost the same as their take-home pay for a period.

Kishida said parents who work less hours after childbirth would also benefit from the new measures.

Non-regular workers, freelancers and self-employed people who are currently not eligible for parental leave benefits are going to be covered by a new support framework.

Efforts to increase the wages of young people are expected to be included in the measures.

According to Kishida, the government plans to expand child-related allowances, reduce the cost of higher education, and encourage companies to offer non-regular workers regular contracts.

The prime minister said that the government will work to change society's awareness to promote greater involvement of companies, fathers, communities, seniors and single people in child-rearing.

As part of such efforts, Kishida said fast track lines would be introduced at national museums and other national facilities to cut queueing times for families with children.

The government plans to compile a draft of its child policy measures by the end of March. It intends to present a framework that will double its spending on children in the future.