Answer ... The sources of Italian employment law include:
- international treaties and European sources;
- the Constitution, domestic laws and the Italian Civil Code; and
- customs and practices.
Case law is not considered a source of law, since the courts are only supposed to apply existing legislation. However, in practice, case law plays an important role in shaping Italian employment law.
The most important labour laws are:
- Law 300/1970 (the so-called ‘Workers’ Statute’), which sets forth rules protecting the freedom and dignity of employees, and the freedom and dignity of trade unions and their activity within the workplace;
- Law 604/1966 governing individual dismissals;
- Law 223/1991 governing collective dismissals;
- Legislative Decree 66/2003 on working time;
- Legislative Decree 81/2008 governing health and safety in the workplace;
- Law 2/2012 governing several employment-related matters, including dismissals and the mandatory procedure for notification of dismissals, as well as several other provisions concerning employment relationships;
- Legislative Decree 23/2015 which introduced new protections against unlawful dismissals and which applies to all categories of employees – except for ‘dirigenti’ (the highest category of employee – generally top managers or executives, who qualify as such according to the relevant definitions under national collective bargaining agreements) – who have been hired on a permanent basis as from 7 March 2015; and
- Legislative Decree 81/2015 governing several contractual models (eg, fixed-term, staff leasing and apprenticeship contracts).
Answer ... In addition to statutory sources, individual and collective agreements play a key role in the regulation of employment relationships.
Several (significant) employment-related matters are governed by national collective bargaining agreements and by collective agreements which are executed with works councils at company level.
National collective bargaining agreements are negotiated by employers’ association on the one hand and trade unions on the other, in connection with different business sectors (eg, metal-mechanical, trade and tertiary, chemical and pharmaceutical, food). Among other things, such agreements establish the minimum economic and legal standards which are to apply to employees working in the relevant business sector.
There is no obligation that employment relationships be governed by a national collective bargaining agreement, unless:
- both the employer and the employee join, respectively, an employers’ association and a trade union that have executed a specific national collective bargaining agreement; or
- both the employer and the employee have agreed that a specific national collective bargaining agreement will apply, either expressly (eg, through a clause in the employment agreement) or implicitly (ie, by applying the main and most significant clauses under a specific national collective bargaining agreement).
Bargaining agreements may also be executed at company level by the employer on the one hand and works councils established within its premises on the other. These agreements normally govern various aspects of the employment relationship, providing for conditions more favourable to employees than those under the applicable national collective bargaining agreement.
Answer ... Employment contracts (which are used whenever an employment relationship is executed, regardless of the category in which the relevant employee is classified) are subject to the contractual rules of the Italian Civil Code, which provide that a contract is valid if certain essential requirements are met.
Generally speaking, no mandatory formal requirements apply when executing employment contracts. However, although employment contracts may be executed either orally or in writing, the written form is highly advisable in order to serve as evidence of the existence and terms of the employment contract. If an employment contract has been orally executed, the employer bears the burden of proof regarding its terms and conditions. By contrast, if the contract has been executed in writing, the employee must demonstrate that its actual modalities of performance have deviated from those specified in the written employment contract.
That said, the written form is expressly required by law for the validity of certain contractual patterns or covenants (eg, fixed-term employment contracts with a term exceeding 12 days, non-compete covenants, probationary period clauses, agreements with temporary workers). Other employment agreements (eg, on-call contracts) must be executed in writing by law.
Even if the employment contract has been executed orally, the employer must nonetheless provide the employee with:
- an undersigned communication in which the employer states that the hire has been registered in its mandatory books; and
within 30 days of commencement of employment, a document stating the main terms and conditions of the employment relationship, including:
- the names and addresses of the parties;
- the place of work;
- the start date;
- the duration of the contract (ie, whether fixed-term or indefinite);
- the trial period, if any;
- the employee’s job title (including his or her level and job position) or a brief description of his or her duties; and
- the applicable national collective bargaining agreement, if any.
If no national collective bargaining agreement applies or if the parties agree to deviate from its provisions, this document must also include the employee’s wage, annual holiday entitlement and working hours, as well as the notice of termination due by each party.