Italy, with a population of over 60 million, is one of the top
ten largest economies in the world. There are many benefits to
doing business in Italy, including its favorable geographic
location and flexible and diverse economy. However, any
employer currently doing business in Italy or who is considering
doing so must be aware of the array of laws governing the
employer-employee relationship including, but not limited to, the
Constitution, the Civil Code, statutory law and contractual rules
provided by national labor collective bargaining agreements.
This article will be the first in a series which will provide a
brief overview of the some of the key elements of employment law in
I. Employment Contracts
There are several types of employment contracts in Italy
including: (1) fixed-term agreements ("contratto a
termine"); and (2) agreements for an indefinite term of
employment ("contratto a tempo indeterminate").
Most employment agreements are entered into for an indefinite
period of time. However, pursuant to Legislative Decree n.368
of 2001, fixed-term contracts are permitted for certain types of
employment, including for organizational, production, and technical
positions. Employment contracts should be in writing and a
statement of key terms governing the employment relationship must
be provided to the employee at the time of hire, including the
following key information:
Date of commencement of employment;
Place of work;
Holiday dates and sick pay entitlements;
Probationary period, if applicable;
Amount of annual fixed salary;
Whether the position is part-time or full-time;
Reference to any collective bargaining agreement
applicable to the relationship;
Non-competition restrictions, if any; and
Notice periods applicable to terminations.
II. Wage and Hour Law
There is no national set minimum wage for employees in
Italy. Each employee's hourly wage or annual salary is
set forth in the employee's employment contract or collective
bargaining agreement. However, pursuant to Legislative Decree
n.66 of 2003, the standard number of working hours per week is 40
and an employee who works in excess of 40 hours per week is
eligible for overtime at a rate which is specified in the
applicable collective bargaining agreement or employment
contract. Additionally, pursuant to collective bargaining
agreements, an employee may work less than 40 hours or more than 40
hours per week as long as the average number of hours worked over a
period of time not exceeding one year, equals 40 hours per
week. Some employees are exempt from statutory hour
restrictions, including high level white-collar employees and
executives. All employees are entitled to a minimum of one
paid day off per week and a minimum of four weeks paid vacation per
III. Maternity and Paternity Leave
The laws in Italy applicable to maternity leave are set forth in
Legislative Decree n.151 of 2001. Female employees are
entitled to mandatory paid leave for a period of two months prior
to the expected date of delivery and three months following the
expected date of childbirth. In addition, female employees
may also take an optional additional six months following the
expiration of the mandatory leave. Female employees are
afforded extensive protection from discrimination following their
return to work and are entitled to return to the same position or
similar position at the same level within the company. The
employee is also entitled to receive any benefit or raise issued by
the company while the employee was on leave and, upon return from
leave, the employee may not be dismissed absent exceptional
circumstances such as gross misconduct, the expiration of a
fixed-term contract, or closure of the business.
Both male and female employees are entitled to paternity leave
governed by Legislative Decree n.151 of 2001. The
parent-employee may take parental leave in the amount of 10 months
for each child, during the first 8 years of the child's
life. Throughout mandatory leave, the employee is entitled to
receive a daily allowance of 80% of the employee's last salary
amount. During optional leave, the employee is entitled to
receive 30% of his or her normal salary amount.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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