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Minerva Medicolegale 1999 June;119(2): 97-128

language: Italian

Maternity leave and women's rights in Europe

Malfatto C., Iorio M., Pastena M., Mascaro V.


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The aim of this study was to present and discuss the current statutory measures for the protection of maternity in European countries. The point of presenting and comparing these systems was not only to analyse legislative measures affecting maternity in all countries close to Italy, but also to offer interesting guidelines which could be used to resolve and analyse a number of problems now facing Italy. A breakdown of the legislation in 18 European countries emphasises that although starting from similar and common grounds, major differences arise in the national legislations in terms both of content and form. It is interesting to note that, in terms of maternity leave, Eastern European countries and Italy offer the most favourable conditions, whereas in other countries, like France, maternity leave is strictly dependent of the number of children. The position of the Scandinavian countries is even further removed since maternity leave does not exist and the term parental leave is used instead. Moreover, in Spain and Portugal there are no restrictions to prevent pregnant women being fired, contrary to France where an employer cannot ask a woman whether or not she is pregnant when she is first hired.

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