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“I'd like to but I can't”: the implementation of the Italian Act on parental leave

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The male breadwinner family model has long been the hegemonic cultural model in Italy. This has defined family members' 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 53/2000, introduced in 2000. In this article, we 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 Italian Act 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 European Union countries.
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Keywords: EU; ITALY; PARENTAL LEAVE; PARENTING PRACTICES; SOCIAL POLICY

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Email: [email protected] 2: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: July, 2015

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