Forty years after the publication of the Italian Law of 18 April 1962, no. 230 and after many decisions by the Italian Court of Cassation about it, the long way towards the deregulation of the fixed term contract in Italy seems to reach a destination.

In fact, since the law of 18 April 1962, no. 230, there has been a prohibition in Italy on the inclusion of final dates within an employment contract, with the exception of the cases absolutely listed in this legislative provision. However, after this initial prohibition, many legislative interventions introduced increasingly wide-ranging exceptions to the general rule consisting in the open ended employment contract.

In 1999, the European Union Council adopted the Directive no. 70, which implemented the agreement on the fixed term contracts of 18 March 1999 between the trade unions CES, CEEP and UNICE. This agreement and the European Directive 1999/70/CE provide general principles and minimum requirements regarding the fixed term contracts, with observance to the equality of the treatment of the workers. European Directive binds the Member States to its implementation by 10 July 2001.

As the foreseen term for implementation of the European Directive drew near, the Italian government adopted a scheme of Legislative Decree, according to the agreement signed by the trade unions, at the date of 4 May 2001, after long negotiations begun more than an year ago. The goal that the government want to reach, through this Legislative Decree, is to guarantee the equality of the treatment of the fixed term workers, defining a specific system to prevent the abuses consisting in the utilization of several fixed term contracts with the same worker.

The most important new details of this Legislative Decree are the following:

  • Art. 1 allows that a fixed term contract could be always stipulated in written form, for the reasons having a technical, productive, organizational or substitutive nature.
  • Art. 3 allows for cases in which it is forbidden to have recourse to a fixed term contract, for example for the substitution of the employees in strike or for the employment at productive units where there was a collective dismissal or a suspension of work for an intervention of the Wages Guarantee Fund.
  • Art. 4 allows that the initial fixed term can be extended only on one occasion and only if the initial term is no longer than 3 years. In all, the fixed term contract can not be longer than 3 years.
  • Art. 5 allows that if the fixed term contract goes on beyond the initial agreed term, the employment contract is considered as an open ended employment contract from the 20th day in case of a contract with a duration not longer than 6 months, or from the 30th day in the other cases.
  • Art. 8 allows that the workers with a fixed term contract not longer than 9 months are not calculated for the calculation of the employees in order to the application of the art. 35 of the Italian Workers’ Statute.

Please note that this Legislative Decree is not yet in force. In fact, it will be in force only 15 days from its publication on the Italian Official Gazette, which has not happened yet.

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.