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extent. It was also thought proper that the employer share with the employee the cost of this form of insurance.
The bill proposed to group the wages, contributions, and benefits into seven classes rather than to leave the determination of either to special computation in each case. This slight deviation from abstract justice was justified by consideration of administrative simplicity. Accordingly the following wage groups with the corresponding contributions and benefits were prepared:
The annual contributions represented two days' wages, or about twothirds of 1 per cent of the annual earnings, based on the maximum wage of each group, except in group 7, in which the contribution is limited to 8.4 lire ($1.62). The daily benefits represented three-fourths of the maximum daily wage of the group, except that in the first two groups a flat rate of 1 lira (19 cents) per day was established, being for some employees even higher than the daily wage, and in group 7 the daily benefit was limited to 3.15 lire (61 cents).
Other proposed sources of income for this institution were fines and penalties collected for noncompliance with the demands of the law, and private contributions and donations. But the membership dues have been adjusted to cover the cost of insurance. They were to be paid by the employer, who was to be permitted to deduct one-half of it from the wages of the insured. Every three years, or oftener, if found necessary, a technical revision was contemplated and the amount of contribution could then be changed if necessary.
The rates suggested in the bill of 1905, amounting approximately to two days' wages, or about 0.67 of 1 per cent of the annual wages, are somewhat higher than the rate obtained by the investigation of 1903 (0.45 of 1 per cent). The report justifies this increase first, because in the statistical investigation miscarriages were not taken into consideration, and because due weight was not given to women employed only a part of the time. The expenses of administration must also be taken into consideration, even though they would not be very great if this form of insurance is managed largely by the old-age and invalidity insurance institution. The elimination of the female employees 50 to 54 years old, which were included in the investigation of 1903, will naturally not decrease the number of births very materially and therefore will increase the birth rate.
BILL OF 1907.
Notwithstanding the active support given the bill of 1905 by many labor organizations, it did not command active attention in the Chamber of Deputies. It was referred, however, to a parliamentary commission, which did not bring in its report until more than two years later. The Ministry of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce having meanwhile been entrusted to another minister, the commission modified the bill of 1905 to conform to the ideas of the new incumbent.() The commission admitted all the contentions brought in support of the preceding bills. It stated that in the opinion of the majority of the members it was also desirable that the State share in the cost of this insurance equally with the employer and employee, but it did not succeed in bringing the Government over to this point of view, and therefore relinquished the demand rather than delay the adoption of this law.
In one very essential feature the original bill was modified. The complicated schedule dividing the female employees into 7 wage groups with corresponding rates of dues and benefits was abolished and a flat rate of 1.50 lire (29 cents) per employee was substituted, while the amount of benefits was placed at the lump sum of 30 lire ($5.79). In making this change, the commission argued that the absence of satisfactory statistical information concerning maternity insurance whether in Italy or abroad made any efforts at perfect justice in dues and benefits futile, that the scale suggested by the bill of 1905 failed to establish such justice, while it introduced a great many complications, and therefore for purposes of simplicity a uniform rate of both dues and benefits was preferable. The rate of dues suggested imposed a burden of only 75 centesimi (14} cents) per annum upon the women insured, and therefore was not burdensome to the poorest employees, while the benefit of 30 lire ($5.79) represented three-fourths of the average daily wages of the childbearing woman for thirty days, or the full wages for about twenty-two days.
BILL OF 1909.
The report of the parliamentary commission of December 20, 1907, was not acted upon by the Parliament because of the closing of the
a Bollettino dell' Ufficio del Lavoro, 1908, Vol. IX, p. 379. German text of the bill in Zacher's Arbeiterversicherung im Auslande, Heft VI, C., p. 47. French text in Henri Scodnik's L’Assurance Maternelle et les Caisses pour la Maternité (Congrès International des Assurances Sociales, 8e session, Rome), p. 63.
session, and a new bill was introduced on March 29, 1909. This new bill was practically identical with that reported by the commission on December 20, 1907.
The one important change concerned the rate of membership dues. Instead of a flat rate of 1.50 lire (29 cents) per annum for each employee from 15 to 50 years of age, the rate proposed in this bill was 1 lira (19 cents) for those from 15 to 20 years old and 2 lire (39 cents) for those over 20 and under. 50 years of age. This change was based mainly upon the great difference in the maternity rates for women of these two different age groups. (C) It has been computed that this annual rate for women 15 to 20 years of age is 0.3 of 1 per cent, while for women 20 to 31 years of age it is 8.4 per cent. The statistics of women at work in Italy() shows that women from 15 to 20 years old constitute 38.5 per cent of all female employees over 15 years of age and women from 20 to 55 years of age 58.7 per cent. A rate of 1 lira (19 cents) per annum for the former, and 2 lire (39 cents) per annum for the women from 20 to 50 years of age will evidently average only a little more than 1.50 lire (29 cents) per employee, and yet be more equitable, in view of the different maternity risk, than the flat per capita rate.
Another change of some importance was that of denying the right of benefit in the case of intentional abortion, while the cases of normal abortion or miscarriage were treated as ordinary cases of labor.
In none of the bills proposed and here discussed has any effort been made to furnish different rates for married and unmarried employees.
The parliamentary commission brought in a very favorable report upon this bill in June, 1910(9). The commission again put forward the principle of state subsidy and found greater encouragement in the new cabinet, which followed the ministerial crisis of December, 1909. Instead of the earlier demand for equal contributions from all the three parties concerned, a compromise was reached in the proposal that to each maternity benefit of 30 lire ($5.79) the State contribute a subsidy of 10 lire ($1.93). This represents the only important amendment proposed by the parliamentary commission.
A month later the entire text of the bill as presented by the commission was adopted by the Parliament without any changes, and on July 17, 1910, the act became a law, thus establishing the first national institution for maternity insurance in the world.
a Bollettino dell'Ufficio del Lavoro, Vol. XI, aprile, 1909.
6 La Donna nell' Industria Italiana (Pubblicazione dell'Ufficio del Lavoro, Serie B, No. 5, Ann. 1905).
c Bollettino dell'Ufficio del Lavoro, Vol. XIII, June, 1910.
PROVISIONS OF THE LAW OF JULY 17, 1910. The purpose of the law is to establish a national maternity fund for granting benefits to working women in case of childbirth.
The extent of the application of the law is made harmonious with that of the act of November 10, 1907, regulating the work of women and children. Only such women as are protected by this earlier act are covered by the new maternity fund, with a further exception of female employees of the State for whom special provision at least equally favorable exists.
The benefits granted amount to 40 lire ($7.72), of which the maternity fund contributes three-fourths and the State grants a subsidy of one-fourth. This amount must be considered in connection with the requirement of the law that in case of childbirth the mother shall discontinue work for at least seven weeks, and it must also be remembered that i lira (19.3 cents) per day is the usual minimum for sick benefits in Italian mutual benefit societies.
An important requirement of the law is that this benefit must be paid promptly. At least one-half must be paid during the first week after parturition. Authority is given by the law for the regulations to require that the employer make advance payments to the working woman, to be reimbursed subsequently by the fund.
This benefit can not be assigned, and is not subject to seizure. Any agreement to waive the right to this benefit is declared null and void. Moreover, the right to the benefit is made independent of the fact, whether the required contributions to the fund have been made or not. A year's time, counting from day of childbirth or abortion, is given to begin action for claiming the benefit.
The employer, the employee, and the State contribute to the fund. A compulsory annual contribution to the fund is required from all employees to which the act applies, namely, to working women between the ages of 15 and 50. For women 15 to 20 years old the contribution is one lira (19.3 cents) per annum, and for women 20 to 50 years old, two lire (38.6 cents). Of this contribution, equal shares are to be paid by the employer and the employee.
The contribution is to be paid by the employer, who may deduct one-half of it from the wages of the employee. Any effort to raise the share of the employees in these deductions is punishable by a fine.
In case of failure of the employer to pay all or part of the required contributions, no rights are forfeited by his employees. The usual benefits must be paid to them, and the fund is authorized to collect the amount due, together with a fine, from the employer.
The contribution from the State amounts to 10 lire ($1.93) per case, or one-fourth of the entire benefit, and does not constitute a revenue of the fund properly speaking.
a Bollettino di Notizie sul Credito e Sulla Previdenza, Anno XXVIII, August, 1910.
Other revenues of the fund, foreseen in the law, are fines collected from employers for noncompliance with the requirements of the law, and gifts or legacies or other miscellaneous contributions to the fund.
An indirect contribution from the State is represented by the assumption of the cost of administration and the granting of other privileges, such as freedom from taxes and registry fees for all documents in connection with its administration.
The maternity fund is intrusted for administrative purposes to the National Old-Age and Invalidity Insurance Institution, though the finances of the two institutions must be kept entirely separate. The seat of the new institution is therefore in Rome. The maternity fund is to be administered directly by a special committee, appointed by the administrative council of the old-age insurance institution. Provision is made for representation of both employers and employees on that committee; one-third of the committee to consist of the former and one-third of the latter. These representatives of both the employers and employees are to be nominated, however, by the minister of agriculture, industry, and commerce from the colleges of prud'hommes (collegi di probi-viri) of the industries in which women are employed.
The financial organization is also intrusted to the National Old-Age and Invalidity Insurance Institution, though the accounts must be kept separately. During the first year of the application of the law this institution is to advance the necessary amounts to the maternity fund, to be repaid in five annual installments with a 4 per cent rate of interest.
Annual reports to the Parliament concerning the activity of the fund are required of the minister of agriculture, industry, and commerce, these reports to contain all necessary suggestions concerning the revision of the actuarial basis of the fund.
All the details of the application of the law are left to the regulations, which by the act were required to receive formal approval by royal decree within six months of the approval of the original act. The act is to go into effect three months after the publication of the regulations.
OLD-AGE AND INVALIDITY INSURANCE. NATIONAL OLD-AGE AND INVALIDITY INSURANCE INSTITUTION. In its system of compulsory insurance against industrial accidents Italy followed to a great extent the example of Germany, but it looked to France and Belgium for models of a system of old-age insurance, and the National Institution for Insurance of Workmen against Invalidity and Old Age (Cassa Nazionale di Previdenza per la Invalidità e per la Vecchiaia degli Operai), established by the law of July 17, 1898, is an institution for voluntary but subsidized insurance, and