"I'd like to but I can't": The Implementation of the Italian Act on Parental Leave


The male breadwinner family model has long been the hegemonic cultural model in Italy. This has defined family members\u2019 relationship with the employment system; the environment considered suitable for bringing up children; and the division of work within the family, with data on the allocation of time showing the persistence of a gendered unbalanced distribution of work. Within this context an attempt has been made to respond to the problem of reconciling work and family care. The main relevant policy is Act No. 53/2000. We shall outline the essential features of this law, analyse its implementation and identify its strengths and weaknesses. The Italian case raises wider questions about the design of parental leave policies, their impact on parenting practices and the gendering of care. Despite being rather advanced in comparison with other European parental leave schemes, the measure introduced in 2000 in Italy actually fosters a "short-leave male breadwinner" model, where the involvement of fathers in care is still very limited. It also confirms the centrality of women to domestic and care work, as well as their limited presence in the labour market, compared with other EU countries

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This paper was published in PubliCatt.

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