Social welfare legislation in Italy, begun in 1898, was redesigned by law in 1952 and has subsequently been expanded. All workers and their families are covered and receive old-age, disability, and survivor pensions, unemployment and injury benefits, health and maternity coverage. The system is primarily funded by employer contributions, along with employee payments and some government subsidies. Family allowances are paid for primarily by employer contributions, and are determined by the size and income of the family.
Despite full legal rights under law, women face considerable social discrimination in Italy. On average, women earn 23% less than men and are underrepresented in management, the professions, and other areas. The unemployment rate for women is nearly double that for men. Sexual harassment is addressed through provisions in labor contracts. There are several governmental bodies charged with ensuring women's rights, including the Ministry for Equal Opportunity. Sexual abuse and violence remain a problem, although when reported the authorities prosecute perpetrators, and assist victims. The government is committed to protecting and promoting children's rights.
Human rights are generally respected in Italy. Lengthy pretrial detentions still occur due to the slow pace of the judicial system, and occasional cases of the mistreatment of prisoners were reported. Discrimination based on race, sex, religion, ethnicity, disability, and language is prohibited by law.