The Family Act is a bill designed to improve the quality of life of families with children.
The aim of the Family Act is to promote parenthood, combat childlessness and facilitate the reconciliation of family life and work, particularly for women.
What is the Family Act
The bill, recognised as the Family Act, is a combination of measures designed for families with children.
On 6th March 2022, the Senate approved Bill No. 2459, which delegates the Government to adopt measures to support the family, in application of EU Directive 2019/1158.
The Family Act envisages a series of contributions to encourage parenthood and counteract the decline in the birth rate.
To sum up, these are the measures provided for in the Family Act:
- Single and Universal Check (cheque)
- Maternity and paternity parental leave
- Tax deductions
- Work incentives for women
- Contributions for children’s welfare
Single and Universal Check
The single and universal check (an economic support allowance), which has already been in effect since 1st March 2022, has replaced the Irepf deductions in the income packet for dependent children and the bonuses entitled to families.
The single allowance is a consequence of specific requests from the European Commission.
It is targeted to families of both Italian and foreign citizens with children.
The requirements for parents are:
- Italian citizenship
- European citizenship
- residence permit of at least 6 months
- residence for at least two years in Italy, even if not continuous
- permanent or fixed-term employment contract of at least six months (in which case income tax must have been paid)
- Pregnancy reached the third trimester.
The requirements for children are:
- Age not exceeding 21 years
- From the age of 18 onwards, they must be enrolled in a training/educational course, be on the employment rolls or be carrying out universal community service
- No age limit if handicapped
All parents will benefit from the seventh month of pregnancy (third trimester) until the age of 21 for each child.
The allowance is payable to the parent who first applies to the INPS, but it is also possible to split the benefit 50/50 between both parents.
INPS has set up a model to estimate the amount of the allowance.
In the case of separated or divorced parents
If there is an agreement between the parties, whoever applies for the single allowance must indicate the personal data of the other parent when submitting the application to the INPS.
If one of the parents has been granted sole custody, the allowance is payable, in the absence of agreement, to the custodial parent.
If a legal guardian had to be appointed, the allowance is granted in the sole interest of the protected child.
The single allowance could affect the maintenance allowance (link to various types of allowance) if the person paying the maintenance allowance transfers it to the ex-spouse. In this case, the separation agreement should be reviewed.
Maternity and paternity leave
The Family Act redefined maternity and paternity parental leave, extending it until the child reaches the age of 14 (as opposed to 12 previously).
This measure introduces flexible rules on the management of parental leave, with a privileged pathway for single-parent families.
Absences from work due to children’s illnesses should not have a heavy impact on wages.
Maternity replacements will be compensated by company subsidies, as will the return of women to work after pregnancy and their training.
Paid leave of at least 5 hours will be provided for school-family meetings and leave to accompany pregnant partners/wives to maternity visits.
At least two months of non-transferable parental leave may be granted for each child, with allowances for equal distribution between parents.
There will be a review of parental leave, with the harmonisation of work and childcare time for both parents.
For new fathers, the 10 days (as opposed to 2 days prior to 2017) of paid paternity leave becomes a structural measure, no longer subject to annual review.
These protections are also applicable to the self-employed and the independent professionals.
Tax deductions are introduced for expenses related to university education (such as the purchasing of books, etc.) and for the rental costs of university student accommodation.
For young couples, or single parent families, under 35, tax relief on rent or on the purchase of their first home can be claimed.
Incentives will also be given to favour the self-sufficiency of children of age with respect to their family of origin.
Tax relief is also available for expenses incurred for domestic services or assistance to family members with limited means.
Women’s work incentives
To incentivise women’s work, the Family Act allocates a share of the endowment of the Guarantee Fund for small and medium-sized enterprises, to launch new women’s businesses, and to support their activities for the first two years. Prizes will be awarded to those who encourage female employment in southern regions.
Contributions to children’s welfare
The Family Act has also provided for measures to support the psychological and physical well-being of children. This will be possible thanks to contributions towards the purchase of textbooks for pupils in lower and upper secondary schools, educational trips, the purchase of tickets for museums, exhibitions, natural parks and galleries, the purchase of computer goods and services, membership of sports associations, and the attendance of foreign language, art, or music courses.
In addition, financial contributions are provided to pay nursery school fees.
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