Same retirement age set for male and female civil servants

The Italian government has complied with a request by the European Commission to set the same retirement age for male and female civil servants. From 2012, female civil servants will retire at the age of 65 years instead of at 61. According to the government, about 25,000 women working in the public administration sector will be affected by the measure. The trade unions have contested the decision but the employers’ federation Confindustria has approved the measure.

The Italian civil service currently employs over 3.5 million workers, of whom more than 54% are women – see report on women’s employment (in Italian, 773Kb PDF) by the Institute of Statistics (ISTAT). This female presence within the sector is particularly evident in schools and the National Health Service, where 69% of the workers are women.

It has been estimated that the government measure to raise the retirement age for women working in public administration to 65 years will affect 25,000 employees between 2012 and 2019. The rules governing the contribution-years based pension (a combination of age and number of years of social security contributions – IT0712029I) will remain as before.

Events leading to decision

In February 2007, the European Commission warned Italy that it would have to set the same retirement age for men and women working in the public administration. On 13 November 2008, the Court of Justice of the European Commission supported the Commission’s standpoint (Case C-46/07 (103Kb PDF)). It ruled that the old pension regime managed by the Social Security Institute for Public Employees (INPDAP) – 65 years for men and 60 years for women – represented a form of discrimination and went against Article 141 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (Art. 141 EC) regarding the principle of equal pay for male and female workers.

In order to apply the ruling of the court, the government, in cooperation with the social partners, established a mechanism to bring about a gradual increase in the retirement age for female public administration employees, reaching the age of 65 years in 2018 (Law No. 102/2009 art.22-ter (in Italian)). The Commission, however, regarded this mechanism and later proposals (all public administration workers retiring at age 65 years by 2016) as inadequate. Consequently, in June 2010, it requested that the Italian government should fall into line with the court ruling by 2012.

Implementation and impact of new retirement age

The introduction of the same retirement age of 65 years for men and women in the civil service will take place on 1 January 2012 with no intermediate steps, as stated in an amendment included in legislative Decree No. 78/2010 (in Italian) of 31 May, which must be transposed into law within the following 60 days to have legal effect (IT1008019I).

In order to avoid a wave of early retirements by state employees before the new limit comes into force, the decree allows women who become eligible to retire at 61 by 2011, and who do not want to do so immediately, to take up the option at any time during the rest of their career.

Formerly, there were four possible dates in the year when eligible workers could take retirement. The new decree stipulates that from 2011 workers must retire 12 months after reaching the conditions for retirement.

According to the government, the rise in the retirement age of public sector employees will reduce costs by about €1.45 billion by 2019. This saving will be used on projects providing social support to women and families.

Social partner reactions

According to the General Confederation of Italian Workers (CGIL), this is a very harsh measure which compounds the negative effects of other financial measures on civil servants. In protest against these measures, CGIL promoted a general strike on 25 June.

Maurizio Petriccioli, Confederal Secretary of the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions (CISL), says that the government has placed a heavy burden on female civil servants. CISL is also critical of the fact that there was no form of consultation with the trade unions. Domenico Proietti, Confederal Secretary of the Union of Italian Workers (UIL) agrees, and says the government could have avoided taking such drastic action if it had continued negotiations with the trade unions and the European Commission. Emma Marcegaglia, President of the General Confederation of Italian Industry (Confindustria) has, however, endorsed the government measures.

Sofia Sanz, Cesos

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