1 Legal framework

1.1 Are there statutory sources of labour and employment law?

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).

1.1 Are there statutory sources of labour and employment law?

The hierarchy of laws in Italy is as follows:

  • EU directives and regulations and international treaties;
  • the Italian Constitution and laws:
  • ordinary laws (ie, the Civil Code);
  • the provisions of collective and individual bargaining agreements; and
  • customs (ie, company practices).

The main Italian labour laws are:

  • Law 604/1966, which regulates individual dismissals;
  • the Workers' Statute (Law 300/1970), which sets out rules to protect the freedom and dignity of employees, trade union activity in the workplace and rules on employment;
  • Law 223/1991, which regulates collective redundancies;
  • Legislative Decree 66/2003 on working time;
  • Legislative Decree 81/2008 on health and safety in the workplace;
  • the Fornero Law (Law 92/2012), which regulates various issues relating to labour relations, including a special court procedure for disputes concerning dismissals subject to the provisions of Article 18 of the Workers' Statute;
  • Legislative Decree 23/2015, which introduced new protections against unlawful dismissals, applicable only to workers who are hired on an indefinite-term basis with effect from 7 March 2015; and
  • Legislative Decree 81/2015, providing comprehensive regulation of employment contracts, as well as a revision of the regulations on job duties.

1.2 Is there a contractual system that operates in parallel, or in addition to, the statutory sources?

In addition to the sources of law, individual and collective contracts play a vital role in the labour law context. National collective labour agreements (CCNLs) are particularly important; through these agreements, trade unions and employers' associations agree on both regulatory and economic aspects (eg, minimum wages) of employment relationships in certain industries. However, in light of the hierarchy of laws set out in question 1.1, the provisions of collective agreements may derogate from those with the force of law only if they are more favourable to the employee.

Unlike regulatory sources of law, CCNLs do not apply to all employment relationships; they have binding effect only if the employer:

  • is a member of a trade union association that is a signatory to the same CCNL; or
  • has voluntarily applied the CCNL, adhering to its provisions either:
    • explicitly (eg, by indicating the details of the CCNL in the letter of employment); or
    • implicitly (eg, by spontaneously and consistently applying the CCNL, or at least its most relevant clauses).

Employers, together with their trade associations, and workers' representatives, together with the relevant trade unions, can also sign collective agreements at the company or territorial level, in order to supplement the CCNL with more specific and business-friendly provisions.

1.2 Is there a contractual system that operates in parallel, or in addition to, the statutory sources?

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.

1.3 Are employment contracts commonly used at all levels? If so, what types of contracts are used and how are they created? Must they be in writing must they include specific information? Are implied clauses allowed?

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.

1.3 Are employment contracts commonly used at all levels? If so, what types of contracts are used and how are they created? Must they be in writing must they include specific information? Are implied clauses allowed?

Regardless of the category or classification assigned to the employee, an employment contract generally need not be executed in writing, except in certain cases, in accordance with the rules set out in the Civil Code on contracts, which are generally applicable thereto. An employment contract may thus be executed orally or through conclusive behaviour. In practice, however, employment relationships are usually concluded in writing, without prejudice to the possibility of referring to the provisions of law and of the applicable CCNL for the regulation of certain non-essential elements.

Certain types of contracts, such as labour supply contracts and fixed-term employment contracts, are required by law to be executed in writing, in any case as regards:

  • the term (where this exceeds 12 days); and
  • certain clauses (eg, those relating to probation periods and non-compete obligations).

By law, the employer must provide the following information in writing to the employee:

  • the parties' identification data;
  • the place of work;
  • the employment start date;
  • provisions relating to any probation period;
  • the duration of the employment relationship; and
  • the employee's classification, level, qualifications and job duties.

In addition, where there is no reference to the provisions of an applicable collective agreement, the employer must provide the employee with the following information in writing:

  • the duration of any probation period;
  • the remuneration for the role;
  • the number of holiday;
  • the employee's working hours; and
  • the notice period in the event of termination.

The employer must also provide the following information in writing to the competent employment centre:

  • the recruitment notice;
  • the content of the employment contract; and
  • other information concerning the employment relationship.

2 Employment rights and representations

2.1 What, if any, are the rights to parental leave, at either a national or local level?

The rules on parental leave are set out in Legislative Decree 151/2001.

A working mother is entitled to mandatory maternity leave under the law, which generally starts two months before the expected date of birth and lasts until the end of the third month after that date.

A working father is entitled first to a period of 10 days' leave, to be taken within the first five months of the child's life (mandatory paternity leave). A working father, in lieu of the working mother, is further entitled to paternity leave – that is, to abstain from work for the entire duration of the maternity leave or for the remaining part that would have been due to the mother – in case of:

  • the mother's death or serious infirmity;
  • abandonment of the child by the mother; or
  • the grant of sole custody of the child to the father.

In such cases, paternity leave starts from the date on which one of the above events occurs.

In recognition of the importance of the presence of both parents in the early years of a child's life, the legislature has allowed each parent to benefit from optional parental leave – that is, a period of 10 months (which may be extended up to three years in the case of a child with a serious disability) of abstention from work, to be divided between the parents and to be taken during the first 12 years of the child's life.

2.1 What, if any, are the rights to parental leave, at either a national or local level?

The current regime for the protection and support of parents is set out in Legislative Decree 151/2001.

A biological working mother is entitled to compulsory leave, which generally lasts from the beginning of the second month preceding the probable date of birth (so-called ‘antepartum maternity leave') to the end of the third month following the birth (so-called ‘postpartum maternity leave').

Allowing both parents to combine work with childcare, Legislative Decree 151/2001 provides for optional leave, which may be taken by either the mother or the father in the first 12 years of each child's life, extendable for up to three years if the child has a serious disability. Parental leave can be taken by the parents simultaneously or separately and for either a continuous or broken-up period.

Collective labour agreements can include provisions which allow optional leave to be taken on an hourly basis.

A father is entitled to ‘compulsory paternity leave' for five days in the first five months of his child's life, for either a continuous or broken-up period. He is also entitled to the period of postpartum leave which the mother would have taken (wholly or partially, depending on the period effectively benefited from by the latter) in case of:

  • the death or serious disability of the mother;
  • child abandonment by the mother; or
  • the grant of custody of the child to the father on an exclusive basis.

2.2 How long does it last and what benefits are given during this time?

Overall, mothers are entitled to at least five months' maternity leave, while fathers may be absent from work only during the first three months of the child's life.

Parental leave may not exceed a 10-month limit, but the right to parental leave can be exercised by each parent for a continuous or broken-up period not exceeding six months, unless there is only one parent (this limit is increased to 11 months if an employed father exercises his right to stay home from work for a period of no less than three months).

During maternity leave, female employees are entitled to 80% of their pay, which is covered by the Italian Social Security Authority (Istituto nazionale della previdenza sociale (INPS)); although the employer is usually requested to pay this sum upfront, it is subsequently reimbursed. Some collective agreements further provide for the payment of the residual 20% by the employer. Instead, working mothers and fathers are entitled to an allowance paid by the INPS equal to 30% of their regular pay until the child's sixth year of life for a total period of six months.

Economic protection has been partially extended to self-employed female workers, freelancers and agricultural entrepreneurs, para-subordinate and autonomous female workers registered in a special list maintained by the INPS.

National and often regional regulations also provide for maternity allowance and a family welfare cheque for mothers who do not work and whose family is in need.

2.2 How long does it last and what benefits are given during this time?

The right to parental leave (which lasts up to 10 months) may be exercised by each parent for a continuous or divided period of up to six months, unless there is only one parent. However, if a working father exercises his right to take more than three months off work on a continuous or divided basis, the total parental leave available to the parents is increased to 11 months.

The Italian legal system guarantees the parents favourable economic treatment while they are on leave. In particular, for the entire duration of the mandatory leave, the working mother (or the working father in those cases provided for by law) is entitled to an allowance equal to 80% of the average daily salary, which is covered by the Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale (INPS); some collective agreements provide for the payment of the remaining 20% by the employer, so as to guarantee a sum equal to the entire salary received by the worker. As regards mandatory paternity leave, a daily allowance is paid by the INPS equal to 100% of the salary.

Finally, during periods of optional leave, both parents are entitled to receive an allowance, again paid by INPS, equal to 30% of the average daily wage, for a maximum total period of six months, if taken within the first six years of the child's life.

National legislation also provides for assistance to mothers who are not working and whose families are in need.

2.3 Are trade unions recognised and what rights do they have?

Article 39 of the Italian Constitution expressly recognises the freedom of trade union organisation. This principle has also been made effective in the workplace through a number of regulatory provisions introduced by the Workers' Statute, which:

  • guarantee all workers the right to form and join trade union associations, and to carry out trade union activities in the workplace; and
  • among other things, expressly prohibit discriminatory acts and the granting of more favourable economic treatment on the basis of a worker's membership of a trade union association or the carrying out of trade union activities.

In addition, trade unions are granted the following rights:

  • to be informed and consulted in advance on specific events and operations relating to the employer's employment planning;
  • to convene workers' meetings, including during working hours (albeit within the limit of 10 hours per year);
  • to hold referendums on matters relating to trade union activities; and
  • to post, in appropriate spaces that are accessible to workers, texts and communiqués on matters of trade union and labour interest.

Specific rights and protections are granted to trade union leaders; among other things, they are entitled to take paid leave to perform their duties, as well as unpaid leave to participate in trade union negotiations, conferences or congresses.

As a further guarantee of trade union freedom and activity, the legislature has introduced a specific form of judicial protection to prevent any anti-union conduct by the employer.

2.3 Are trade unions recognised and what rights do they have?

Article 39 of the Italian Constitution states that "trade unions are free". This freedom is bi-directional: that is, it applies both to public law, with regard to relations with the state and public authorities; and to private law, with regard to relations with employers.

To avoid legislative intervention limiting collective bargaining freedom, trade unions are assigned to the private law sphere through their classification as non-recognised associations.

The main rights attributed to trade unions are:

  • the right to associate and perform any activity on behalf of represented employees;
  • the right to strike and to execute collective bargaining agreements; and
  • the right to be informed and consulted when specific events – as provided either by the law or by the collective labour agreements – occur, affecting the business carried out by the employer.

Union representation can be established in each production unit by works councils, which have, among other things:

  • the right to call meetings (including during working time);
  • the right to hold referenda and to post texts and announcements related to union matters; and
  • information and consultation rights on the occurrence of specific events (eg, transfer of undertakings and redundancy procedures).

Trade union managers are guaranteed paid and unpaid leave for the completion of their term and to participate in negotiations and trade union congresses or conferences.

Legal action against anti-union behaviour may be commenced by local bodies of trade union organisations if the employer's conduct ends up preventing or limiting the freedom of the trade union or the right to strike.

2.4 How are data protection rules applied in the workforce and how does this affect employees' privacy rights?

Employee privacy is regulated under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679) and Legislative Decree 196/2003, as amended by Legislative Decree 101/2018, which provides that personal data should be processed lawfully and in a transparent manner, collected for specified and legitimate purposes.

In the employment context, the employer may process employees' personal information to the extent that this is necessary in order to appropriately fulfil employment obligations and in accordance with the following rules:

  • observing the principles of data minimisation and lawfulness;

providing advance adequate information to data subjects;

  • securing employees' prior consent where this is required by law;
  • fulfilling the obligations set established by the Data Protection Authority when processing special personal data or judicial data; and
  • taking suitable security measures to protect data from unauthorised accesses.

Employers' monitoring of remote working is governed by Article 4 of the Workers Statute, as significantly amended by Legislative Decree 151/2015, which still prohibits the use of instruments specifically aimed at controlling employees. Equipment which could monitor employees is allowed, but only in the case of organisational, production-related or security needs, and after either an agreement has been signed with the works council or the public authority has granted authorisation. However, such rules do not apply to instruments or equipment used to perform employees' duties (eg, technological devices assigned such as smartphones, personal computers and tablets), which can be used without specific authorisation from public authorities or work councils.

2.4 How are data protection rules applied in the workforce and how does this affect employees' privacy rights?

The main regulatory sources for the processing of personal data are:

  • the EU General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679) (GDPR); and
  • Legislative Decree 196/2003, as amended by Legislative Decree 101/2018.

Article 88 of the GDPR expressly refers to the processing of data in the context of employment relationships, leaving member states free to provide, by law or collective agreement, more specific rules to ensure the protection of employees' rights and freedoms.

In general, an employer is allowed to process the personal data and information of its employees, provided that it complies with the general principles of lawfulness, transparency, fairness and proportionality.

With regard to the remote monitoring of workers, under Article 4 of the Workers' Statute, as amended by Legislative Decree 151/2015, an employer can use audio-visual systems and instruments which allow the activities of employees to be monitored only if those systems and instruments – which in any case may be installed only with the prior agreement of the relevant trade unions or, failing that, authorisation from the relevant public administration – are used to meet requirements relating to organisation and production, work safety and the protection of company assets.

However, these guarantees do not apply to the tools used by employees to perform their work duties (eg, smartphones, tablets, personal computers), or to tools for recording access and attendance; the employer may thus utilise these without any prior trade union agreement or authorisation from the relevant public administration.

2.5 Are contingent worker arrangements specifically regulated?

Occasional work services are regulated by Decree-Law 50/2017, as amended by Decree-Law 87/2018.

Occasional work services are subject to strict monetary limits, with reference to the calendar year in which the service is rendered. In particular, in the period between 1 January and 31 December each year, occasional work may be performed provided that:

  • each worker, with reference to all principals, receives remuneration in a total amount not exceeding €5,000;
  • each principal, with reference to all workers, pays remuneration in a total amount not exceeding €5,000; and
  • for all services rendered to the same principal, the service provider receives remuneration not exceeding €2,500.

In any case, no principals – that is, companies which employ up to five permanent employees, agricultural companies, public administrations, hotel companies and tourism facilities – may receive occasional work services from current employees or continued collaboration providers, or from former employees or continued collaboration providers that were terminated less than six months previously.

The remuneration can be freely agreed between the parties, except for a minimum hourly remuneration of €9 and a daily remuneration of not less than €36, equal to the remuneration of four working hours.

In certain cases, breach of these regulations may lead to the mandatory conversion of the employment relationship into a full-time, permanent employment contract.

2.5 Are contingent worker arrangements specifically regulated?

The use of contingent workers – also called ‘casual workers' – who provide occasional services is governed by Law Decree 50/2017, recently reformed by Law Decree 87/2018 (the so-called ‘Dignity Decree'), which has made it easier to use this type of contract in the tourism sector, as well as in agriculture and by local authorities.

This is a kind of work whereby an individual engages in work activities (possibly for a number of different employers) resulting in total annual remuneration of up to €5,000, provided that the work performed for one particular employer does not result in remuneration of more than €2,500 per year.

In addition, the employer cannot enter into this type of agreement with a worker who has previously worked for it within the previous six months as either an employee or an independent contractor. Casual workers further cannot be used within the framework of a service agreement or by construction companies.

Casual workers have special status because they are different from other employees: their salary can be freely set by the parties, subject to a minimum wage of €9 per hour of work, and they have no right to compare their treatment with other employees. However, if the contingent work is carried out in breach of the law, the casual worker might claim that he or she has the status of an employee and may therefore claim the same rights granted to employees in case of dismissal.

3 Employment benefits

3.1 Is there a national minimum wage that must be adhered to?

Italian law does not provide for a mandatory minimum wage.

This is generally set forth on a sector-by-sector basis by national collective bargaining agreements, which specify different minimum wages depending on the qualifications and level (eg, executive, middle manager, white collar or blue collar) of the employee.

If no national collective bargaining agreement applies (under Italian law, except in certain limited cases, there is no obligation that employment relationships be governed by a national collective bargaining agreement), reference must be made to Section 36 of the Italian Constitution, which sets forth the principles of proportionality and sufficiency, to which workers' remuneration must adhere.

‘Proportionality' means that the amount of remuneration must be quantified taking into account, in addition to the work performed, the quality of performance in terms of difficulty, importance and complexity, as well as the responsibilities associated therewith.

‘Sufficiency' means that the worker must be granted a wage which is sufficient to meet his or her needs and those of his or her family.

If no national collective bargaining agreement applies, the assessment as to the proportionality and sufficiency of the salary granted to an employee according to Section 36 of the Italian Constitution is carried out by the labour court, taking into account the minimum wages established under any national collective bargaining agreement applicable in the sector in which the employer operates.

3.1 Is there a national minimum wage that must be adhered to?

Remuneration is the main economic right of an employee. Italian law does not expressly provide for a minimum wage.

Article 36 of the Constitution regulates fair pay. Articles 2099–2102 of the Civil Code indicate how pay is to be determined. Collective bargaining agreements identify items of pay and the amount to be paid to the employee according to their classification.

The reference standard is set out in Article 36 of the Constitution, which provides that a worker is entitled to "remuneration commensurate with the quantity and quality of their work and in any case sufficient to ensure a free and dignified existence for them and their families".

Remuneration is ‘sufficient' if it is adequate to ensure a minimum level of subsistence and affords the worker and his or her family a standard of living that is adequate to the historical and environmental context.

The principle of proportionality expresses the correlation between pay and the tasks performed by the worker (quality) and the time worked (quantity).

A judge can determine the quantum of basic pay by reference to the minimum rates laid down in the collective agreements applicable to the relevant category or industry. In these terms, sufficiency and proportionality are not absolute for all workers, but vary according to the sector and the qualifications of the individual worker.

National collective bargaining agreements are negotiated between the trade unions that represent the workers in a particular industry/sector and the relevant employers' associations.

3.2 Is there an entitlement to payment for overtime?

Employees are entitled to increased remuneration for overtime work.

According to Legislative Decree 66/2003, ‘overtime' is work performed beyond the normal working hours fixed by law.

An employer is entitled to request work in excess of the ordinary limits, provided that this complies with quantitative and procedural limits.

Under current legislation, overtime work, in addition to normal work, must fall within the ‘weekly maximum' limit set by collective agreements, not exceeding 48 hours per week on average. In the absence of a provision in the collective agreement, recourse to overtime is conditional on the worker's consent and on an annual limit of 250 hours.

Outside this scenario, overtime can be requested only for typical and imperative needs, such as:

  • exceptional technical-productive needs that cannot be met by hiring new workers;
  • cases of force majeure or where failure to carry out work immediately could result in a risk of harm to the person or the worker; or
  • special events, such as exhibitions or fairs.

Overtime is compensated separately and by supplementary pay, whose determination is left to collective agreements; these may grant the employee the right to compensatory rest in addition or as an alternative to supplementary pay.

3.2 Is there an entitlement to payment for overtime?

According to Section 2108, paragraph 1 of the Italian Civil Code, in case of performance in excess of ordinary working time, employees must be compensated for overtime in the form of remuneration at a rate that is higher than that payable for ordinary work.

For a long time, the rules on working time were set forth by Royal Law Decree 692/1923. Section 1 of this law decree fixed the maximum duration of regular working time at eight hours per day and 48 hours per week. Section 5 further set the maximum limits for overtime at two hours per day and 12 hours per week.

Legislative Decree 66/2003 has since replaced the regulations on regular working hours and overtime, implementing EU Directives 93/104/EC and 2000/34/EC, respectively. According to Legislative Decree 66/2003, collective bargaining agreements should regulate the main aspects of this matter. However, it further provides that:

  • recourse to overtime must be limited;
  • if no provisions on overtime are set out in the applicable national collective bargaining agreement, overtime is allowed, conditional on agreement between the employer and the employee, up to a maximum cap of 250 hours per year; and
  • in the absence of a national collective bargaining agreement, overtime is permitted in case of exceptional technical or production-related needs, force majeure or special events such as fairs (in this event, information obligations apply).

Generally speaking, national collective bargaining agreements provide a maximum yearly threshold for overtime and establish pay increases to which employees performing overtime are entitled.

3.3 Is there an entitlement to annual leave? If so, what is the minimum that employees are entitled to receive?

Section 36 of the Italian Constitution provides that "employees are entitled to… annual paid leave and cannot waive such right".

According to Section 2109 of the Italian Civil Code, employees are entitled to annual paid leave for a term set forth by law, by practice or by the application of a fairness criterion.

Legislative Decree 66/2003 specifies that, save for that set forth by Section 2109 of the Italian Civil Code, employees are entitled to at least four weeks' annual paid leave. Unless the applicable national collective bargaining agreement provides otherwise, two of those four weeks must be taken in the year in which they accrue; the remaining two weeks may be taken in the following 18 months. Annual leave must be taken by employees; payment in lieu is not possible, unless the employment relationship is terminated.

Generally speaking, applicable national collective bargaining agreements (if any – under Italian law, except in certain limited cases, there is no obligation that employment relationships be governed by a collective agreement) provide for annual leave for a term which is longer than the minimum four weeks specified under Italian law.

Employees are further entitled to the following bank holidays.

Bank holiday Date
New Year's Eve 1 January
Epiphany 6 January
Easter Sunday -
Easter Monday -
Liberation Day 25 April
Workers' Day 1 May
National Day 2 June
Feast of the Assumption 15 August
All Saints Day 1 November
Feast of the Immaculate Conception 8 December
Christmas Day 25 December
St Stephen's Day 26 December

3.3 Is there an entitlement to annual leave? If so, what is the minimum that employees are entitled to receive?

Article 36(3) of the Constitution recognises a worker's right to a period of paid annual leave. Article 10 of Legislative Decree 66/2003 states that the minimum length of leave is four weeks. This will apply unless otherwise provided for by collective agreements: the first two weeks must be taken in the year in which they accrue (the ‘year timeframe' principle); while the third and fourth weeks must be taken no later than 18 months after the end of the year in which they accrue.

Article 2109 of the Civil Code provides that the period of leave is fixed by the employer, "taking into account the needs of the business and the interests of the employee".

An employer has the right to alter the holiday period in light of business needs, but the employee must be given adequate notice of such changes. This presupposes that the employee is informed before he or she leaves on holiday, as – unless otherwise agreed – the employee is not required to be on call during the holiday period.

The holiday period must be paid (according to the collective bargaining criteria) and cannot be replaced by an allowance for holidays not taken, except in case of termination of the relationship.

Workers are also entitled to the following public holidays:

Bank holiday Dates
New Year's Eve 1 January
Epiphany 6 January
Easter Sunday -
Easter Monday -
Liberation Day 25 April
Workers' Day 1 May
National Day 2 June
Feast of the Assumption 15 August
All Saints Day 1 November
Feast of the Immaculate Conception 8 December
Christmas Day 25 December
St Stephen's Day 26 December

3.4 Is there a requirement to provide sick leave? If so, what is the minimum that employees are entitled to receive?

In the event of an accident or illness, a worker has the right to keep his or her job until recovery as certified by the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work, in addition to receiving a payment that is generally equal to his or her full salary.

Pursuant to Article 2110 of the Civil Code, the retention period is limited to that established by special laws, custom or equity.

Collective agreements determine to varying degrees the length of the period during which a worker on sick leave cannot be dismissed, which will sometimes depend on the worker's classification or length of service.

The time allowed for the suspension of an employment relationship due to sick leave is called ‘comporto'. A distinction is made between periods of continuous illness and those in which worker returns to work between several successive illnesses.

Once the whole period of comporto has been used for sick leave, the employer may terminate the employment contract within a reasonable period of time.

Article 2110 of the Civil Code grants a worker on sick leave the right to remuneration or an indemnity to the extent and for the time determined by special laws, custom or equity.

In practice, collective agreements determine the economic rights of sick workers by establishing an indemnity commensurate with the percentage of pay normally received. In the case of an employee, the compensation is paid by the employer, in full for a certain period and in part for a later period; in the case of a worker, the compensation is paid by the Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale (INPS).

3.4 Is there a requirement to provide sick leave? If so, what is the minimum that employees are entitled to receive?

According to Section 2110, paragraph 1 of the Italian Civil Code, in case of accident, illness, pregnancy or puerperium, if there are no legal provisions setting forth equivalent forms of social security, employees are entitled to the payment of remuneration or of an indemnity whose amount and term for payment are specified by law, by practice or by applying a fairness criterion.

Except for certain cases (eg, executive status employees), this indemnity is paid by the Italian Social Security Authority (Istituto nazionale della previdenza sociale (INPS)) or by the Italian Mandatory Insurance against Accidents at Work, depending on why the employee is absent from work.

Section 2110, paragraph 2 entitles the employer to terminate the employment contract if an employee's absence from work for any of the reasons outlined above exceeds the maximum term set forth by law, by practice or by applying a fairness criterion.

Generally speaking, this maximum term is set forth by the applicable national collective bargaining agreement (if any – under Italian law, except in limited cases, there is no obligation that employment relationships be governed by a national collective bargaining agreement), and varies according to the employee's seniority.

Section 2110, paragraph 3 clarifies that the term for which employees are absent from work for any of the reasons outlined above must be taken into account when quantifying seniority.

3.5 Is there a statutory retirement age? If so, what is it?

Pursuant to amendments introduced to the Italian pension system by Legislative Decree 201/2011 (converted into law by Law 214/2011), employees (either male or female) aged 67 (increased from 66 years and seven months as of 1 January 2019) who have made social security payments for at least 20 years qualify for a pension paid by the INPS.

Alternatively, the following employees may take early retirement at a reduced pension rate:

  • male employees who have made social security payments for 43 years and three months (increased from 42 years and 10 months as of 1 January 2019), regardless of their age; and
  • female employees who have made social security payments for 42 years and 3 months (increased from 41 years and 10 months as of 1 January 2019), regardless of their age.

Two other ways to retire are through:

  • the voluntary pension advance (anticipo pensionistico volontario – APE volontario);
  • the early temporary supplementary income (rendita integrativa temporanea anticipata – RITA); and
  • the so-called ‘100 quote' formula.

The APE volontario is a bank loan paid by the INPS to an employee who satisfies the following criteria at the time of making the request:

  • is at least 63 years of age;
  • will qualify for the standard pension within three years and six months;
  • has made at least 20 years of social seniority payments; and
  • does not have a disability pension.

The bank loan must be repaid by the employee with a 20-year levy on his or her future pension rate.

Employees who satisfy the following criteria can retire under RITA:

  • is no longer in employment;
  • will qualify for the standard pension within five years;
  • has made at least 20 years of social security payments at the time of the application; and
  • at the time of application, has been enrolled in and contributed to a provident pension fund for at least five years.

Or alternatively:

  • is no longer in employment;
  • has been unemployed after leaving work for more than 24 months;
  • will qualify for the standard pension within 10 years; and
  • at the time of application, has been enrolled in and contributed to a provident pension fund for at least five years.

The APE volontario and RITA constitute supplemental income pending retirement and recipients must be enrolled in a provident pension fund.

Pursuant to amendments recently introduced to the Italian pension system, employees are moreover entitled to take retirement under the so-called ‘100 quote' formula, which gives a special opportunity to retire to employees who are at least 62 years old and have made at least 38 years of social seniority payments.

3.5 Is there a statutory retirement age? If so, what is it?

Law 201/2011 distinguishes between old-age pensions and early retirement pensions.

The right to an old-age pension accrues (for both men and women in the public and private sectors) at the age of 67 (Ministerial Decree of 5 November 2019), provided that contributions have been paid for at least 20 years.

In order to meet this 20-year requirement, the following contributions are valid:

  • in lieu of college years, credits for military service;
  • contributions for unemployment benefits;
  • maternity contributions; and
  • contributions paid to all INPS management schemes or to professional funds, provided that they relate to periods that do not coincide.

An early retirement pension is not age dependent, but rather depends on the achievement of a certain contribution requirement as follows:

  • 41 years and 10 months for women; and
  • 42 years and 10 months for men.

It is also possible to retire by availing of the so-called ‘quota 100' on reaching 62 years of age and 38 years of contributions.

Furthermore, a voluntary anticipo finanziario a garanzia pensionistica (APE) can be requested. whereby a bank or an insurance company pays a monthly allowance – either alternative or complementary to salary – before retirement. The conditions to avail of an APE are as follows:

  • 63 years of age;
  • 20 years of contributions; and
  • no disability pension.

The loan is repaid in 240 monthly instalments; the INPS deducts the sum from part of the monthly pension paid thereafter.

A ‘temporary supplementary income in advance' (RITA) may also be availed of, where very strict requirements are met, which allows for anticipated retirement between five and 10 years before the standard age.

4 Discrimination and harassment

4.1 What actions are classified as unlawfully discriminatory?

Article 2 of the Constitution guarantees citizens' inviolable rights; and Article 3 of the Constitution requires equal treatment regardless of sex, race, language, political opinion or personal or social conditions.

Article 37 of the Constitution enshrines an important principle: female workers should receive the same rights and the same pay as male workers for equal work (or duties, but not performance).

The Code of Equal Opportunities between Men and Women was issued through Legislative Decree 198/2006.

Equality between workers must be ensured with regard to:

  • access to employment (in whatever form), including selection, recruitment, promotion and training criteria;
  • remuneration – any form of direct or indirect discrimination concerning any aspect or condition of remuneration is prohibited with regard to the same job or work to which equal value is attributed;
  • career advancement;
  • social security benefits; and
  • dismissal.

Discrimination can be:

  • direct, where a provision, criterion, practice, act or behaviour has a discriminatory effect (eg, giving preference to a man over a woman in equivalent circumstances); or
  • indirect, where a seemingly neutral practice, act, pact or behaviour puts one worker at a disadvantage compared to another (in a company with pay differences between part-time workers and full-time workers, the former are mainly women).

4.1 What actions are classified as unlawfully discriminatory?

The Italian legal system contains a general constitutional principle of equality, based on citizens' equal dignity before the law, which prohibits all forms of discrimination and requires public institutions to remove all economic and social obstacles that de facto limit the equality of citizens and workers. The Constitution also expressly provides that working women have the same rights as men and are therefore entitled to equal pay for equal work.

In addition, Italian law more specifically prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the following grounds: sex, political opinion, union-related activity, religion, race – including nationality, ethnic or national origin and colour – language, disability, age, sexual orientation and personal beliefs.

Any action by the employer aimed at creating differential treatment on any of the abovementioned grounds is considered unlawful and discriminatory.

Discrimination may occur:

  • during the recruitment process (eg, selection, interview);
  • during employment (eg, remuneration, access to benefits, promotions, disciplinary procedures); and
  • in case of termination.

Discriminatory actions may be:

  • direct – that is, any action, agreement or behaviour that has discriminatory effect (ie, that accords less or more favourable treatment) against workers based on any of the abovementioned categories; or
  • indirect – that is, any action, criterion, agreement or behaviour which, although apparently neutral, creates a particularly disadvantageous situation for workers in any of the abovementioned categories.

4.2 Are there specified groups or classifications entitled to protection?

Specific protection is accorded to particular categories of workers who are considered more vulnerable and thus in need of strong regulation:

  • Age discrimination: In general, this is prohibited. Different treatment due to age may be acceptable for young or old workers or workers with dependants, if this is aimed at protecting them.
  • Sex discrimination: Women and men have equal rights to access the job market, professional training and working conditions. Only if gender is a necessary characteristic of a position is it lawful to ‘discriminate' between genders.
  • Disability discrimination: In general, this is prohibited. This protection further extends to employees with disabled relatives who need caring for. The prohibition does not apply if a disabled worker's recognised physical, mental or sensory disabilities might place him or her, colleagues or third parties in danger.
  • Religious discrimination: Any discrimination connected with personal beliefs (or lack of beliefs) or religion is forbidden. Only in case of occupational activities within public or private organisations based on religion or belief may a genuine difference in treatment not be discriminatory.
  • Race and ethnic discrimination: This is prohibited, unless specific legislative dispositions require a certain citizenship or nationality as a necessary condition for a particular type of job (eg, public service, army).
  • Union-based discrimination: Every worker within the working premises has the right to found or join a union, carry out union activity and participate (or not) in a strike (unless public essential services are concerned).

4.2 Are there specified groups or classifications entitled to protection?

Equality between men and women must be guaranteed in all areas of working life, including:

  • access to employment, training, professional promotions, careers and social security;
  • pay; and
  • termination of employment.

Other forms of discrimination are also prohibited, as follows:

  • race and ethnic origin – that is, less favourable and differential treatment suffered by one person compared to another due to his or her race or ethnic origin;
  • religion and belief – that is, less favourable and differential treatment suffered by one person due to his or her personal beliefs (or lack thereof) or religion, except in the case of public or private organisations that are based on a specific religion or belief;
  • disability – except where the physical, mental or sensory disabilities of a disabled worker may endanger him or her, colleagues or third parties;
  • age – unless a distinction is necessary to protect the worker;
  • sexual orientation;
  • language and nationality – except where nationality or citizenship is required as a condition for a particular type of work (eg, public service, army);
  • personal opinions – the employer may not investigate an employee's opinions or any facts that are irrelevant to the assessment of professionalism; and
  • trade union activity – every worker has the right:
    • to form or join a trade union;
    • to engage in trade union activity; and
    • to participate (or not) in a strike (except for essential public services).

Generally, all discriminatory conduct is prohibited unless differences are an essential and determining requirement for employment.

4.3 What protections are employed against discrimination in the workforce?

There are specific forms of protection, as follows:

  • Gender: Positive action being taken to address discrimination between male and female workers includes measures such as:
    • incentives for female entrepreneurship;
    • promotion of flexible working hours:
    • reversible part-time, flexible hours;
    • training courses for women to encourage their participation in traditionally male sectors; and
    • crèches for female workers.
  • The implementation of such positive action is entrusted to the National Committee for Equality at the Ministry of Labour (in addition to local councils), with the aim of preventing discriminatory behaviour on the grounds of sex and removing other obstacles that limit equality between men and women in the workplace. These bodies promote equal opportunities and are involved in various procedures to identify potential discrimination against women workers. Women-only quotas are compulsory in public administrations and control bodies of listed companies.
  • Disability: An employer must take effective measures and organise the workplace according to a person's disability – including rearranging the work premises and adapting equipment, work rhythms and/or the division of tasks – unless these measures would create disproportionate financial burdens. Public institutions may subsidise workplace adaptation. Employers are obliged to employ a certain percentage of disabled workers in relation to the total number of employees in the company.
  • Religion: Employees can ask companies to allow them to fulfil their religious mandates, such as observing a day of rest other than Sunday or a particular diet in the canteen.

4.3 What protections are employed against discrimination in the workforce?

In addition to the general prohibition on discrimination in the workplace, Italian law provides special protection for some of the abovementioned vulnerable categories:

  • Sexual discrimination: In order to promote the representation of women in the workplace, the law provides for positive actions such as incentives for women, flexible work, promotion of vocational training and nurseries inside the workplace. The implementation of positive actions is governed by the National Committee for Equal Opportunities and the equal opportunity advisers appointed at national and local level. These bodies aim to promote equal opportunities between men and women and are involved in several procedures aimed at verifying potential discrimination against female employees. In addition, within public administrations and supervisory bodies of Italian listed companies, reserved quotas for women have mandatory application.
  • Disability discrimination: Workplaces and duties must be suitable for disabled employees. Employers must ensure that disabled employees can access facilities and are properly equipped to meet their needs. Public institutions may subsidise the adaptation of the workplace. Employers are also obliged to hire a certain percentage of disabled workers, in relation to the total number of company employees.
  • Religious discrimination: Workers cannot, under any circumstance, be obliged to reveal information about their religious beliefs. Furthermore, employees may ask companies to allow them to fulfil their religious mandates (eg, observing a different day of rest instead of Sunday or observing a particular diet in the canteen).

4.4 How is a discrimination claim processed?

Any discriminatory action taken by an employer against an employee is null and void. The claim against discriminatory action is processed by the labour court. With regard to the burden of proof, the employee is required to demonstrate only facts on which a presumption of discrimination can be based; it is then up to the employer to prove that there was no discrimination.

If the employment relationship is still ongoing:

  • ordinary claims for a declaration of invalidity of the discriminatory act may be brought;
  • an urgent proceeding may be commenced by the employee to obtain an immediate executive decision for cessation of the unlawful conduct, remediation of its effects and compensation for damages;
  • a special proceeding can be commenced independently by an equal opportunity adviser if a discriminatory action based on gender has collective relevance; and
  • an urgent proceeding may be commenced if the discrimination was caused by anti-trade unionist conduct, to obtain an immediate executive decision for cessation of the unlawful conduct and remediation of its effects. This must be commenced by the trade union, rather than the individual.

If the discriminatory act resulted in dismissal, claims can be commenced to obtain a declaration of invalidity of the discriminatory act, removal of its effects, compensation for damages and reinstatement of the employee.

4.4 How is a discrimination claim processed?

Article 15 of the Workers' Statute declares null and void any act or pact that is prejudicial to the worker on the grounds of gender. This prohibition was extended by Legislative Decrees 215/2003 and 216/2003 to include political, religious, racial and linguistic grounds.

Employees can appeal against discriminatory conduct to an employment tribunal, either individually or collectively.

An employee can apply individually to the employment tribunal. The action may be ordinary or urgent. A request can be made for a declaration of nullity and cessation of the discriminatory act, as the case may be. Protection is provided to the employee, granting compensation and restoration, such as the adoption of a plan to remedy the discriminatory effects.

A worker who has suffered discrimination can also start a procedure under Article 38 of the Equal Opportunities Code. In the event of discriminatory behaviour, the worker (or the trade union on his or her behalf) or an equal opportunities adviser can file an urgent complaint with a judge to obtain an order for cessation of the behaviour and remediation of its effects, in addition to compensation for any prejudice suffered.

The action may be brought independently by the competent equality adviser if the discriminatory conduct was collective. In this case, once again, the action may be ordinary or urgent. In the case of collective action, the results of the action will not be limited to the individual sphere, but will allow for a collective plan to remedy the discriminatory effects.

In these proceedings, whether ordinary or urgent, the employee must prove to the judge facts (eg, relating to pay or duties) that suggest the existence of discriminatory acts or agreements. Conversely, the employer must prove that no discrimination took place.

4.5 What remedies are available?

Upon finding that a certain behaviour was discriminatory, the judge may adopt measures to prevent such behaviour in the future or to remedy behaviour that has already taken place.

In the former case, an action for injunctive relief is exercised by means of either an urgent appeal or an ordinary court action. Subsequently, compliance with the judicial order will be ensured through the application of coercive measures regulated by law.

In the latter case, restorative, restitutive or compensatory measures are taken. More specifically, the judge may adopt any appropriate measures to remedy the effects of the discrimination. In this case, the judge may order the offender to pay damages and may order the defendant to adopt a plan to remedy the discrimination.

The Equal Opportunities Code provides that in case of violation, a fine or a penalty must be paid for each day of delay in the adoption of the measures ordered by the judge.

Any discriminatory behaviour in the Italian legal system is considered a null and void legal act under Article 15 of the Workers' Statute and Article 4 of Law 108/1990 as regards dismissal. Thus, a discriminatory dismissal is sanctioned by nullity and the employee is entitled to compensation equal to the salary accrued from the date of dismissal until the date of actual reinstatement in his or her job, and in any case not less than five months' salary.

4.5 What remedies are available?

In light of the above, employees (and other institutions so entitled in this respect) can bring claims for discrimination before the Labour Court.

The court may order the employer to stop the discriminatory conduct and remedy its effects, and determine a plan in order to prevent future discrimination. The court might also award damages. In general, there is no minimum or maximum amount of damages established by legislation, as this is usually determined at the discretion of the judge. In some cases, the amount of damages is specified by law; for example, employers that do not comply with the legal requirement to hire a certain percentage of disabled employees are subject to a penalty of €153.20 per day for each disabled worker not employed.

In case of unlawful dismissal based on discriminatory grounds, the court will consider the termination as null and void. All employees, including executives, who are dismissed for discriminatory reasons have the right to reinstatement with payment of lost remuneration from the date of dismissal until the effective reinstatement date, with a minimum of five months' salary.

4.6 What protections and remedies are available against harassment, bullying and retaliation/victimisation?

Harassment, bulling and retaliation/victimisation aimed at violating human dignity, resulting in intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive behaviour, including illegitimate reactions by employers to legitimate conduct of employees, or based on discriminatory grounds, are considered forms of discrimination.

Both while the employment relationship is effective and in case of termination of employment, the same forms of protection and remedies as apply in case of discrimination are also applicable in this regard.

In terms of claims for unlawful dismissal, although the sanctions are the same (dismissal is declared null and void and the employee has the right to reinstatement and compensation for damages), there is a difference between retaliation/victimisation that does not result in discriminatory action and actual discrimination. With regard to the burden of proof, in discrimination claims, if the employee establishes facts on which a presumption of discrimination can be based, it is up to the employer to prove that there has been no discrimination. By contrast, in case of retaliation/victimisation, the employee must also prove that dismissal was based on an intent to retaliate or victimise.

Harassment, bullying and retaliation/victimisation, when not based on discriminatory grounds, may still be considered a form of mobbing. Nevertheless, since Italian law does not include specific provisions on mobbing, in such cases a claim can be brought to court only where such behaviour also constitutes a criminal offence or other unlawful conduct relevant on a civil basis (eg, downgrading or professional deskilling).

4.6 What protections and remedies are available against harassment, bullying and retaliation/victimisation?

The same protections as for discrimination apply against any conduct that is detrimental to human dignity, both during and on termination of the relationship.

Legislative Decree 5/2010 extended judicial protection for discrimination to bullying – that is, retaliatory behaviour by the employer against action taken to enforce equal treatment.

Law 4/2021 ratified and implemented in Italy International Labour Organization Convention 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the Workplace (Geneva, 21 June 2019).

The convention focuses on threats, bullying and stalking.

The convention protects workers and all those in any work environment, regardless of the type of contract, including trainees, apprentices, laid-off workers and volunteers.

Article 1 defines ‘violence' and ‘threats' as threated or actual practices and behaviour, whether individual or repeated, that are aimed at, cause or result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm, including gender-based violence and harassment.

Under the convention, Italy is obliged to adopt specific rules regarding:

  • consultation with workers and their representatives on a company policy on violence and harassment at work;
  • the inclusion of violence and harassment, as well as related psychosocial risks, in occupational health and safety management;
  • the identification of hazards and risk assessments relating to violence and harassment; and
  • the provision of information and training to workers and other stakeholders on the dangers and risks of violence and harassment and relevant prevention and protection measures.

5 Dismissals and terminations

5.1 Must a valid reason be given to lawfully terminate an employment contract?

There are two types of termination:

  • ad nutum, where the employment relationship can be terminated without a specific reason (eg, probationary workers, domestic workers); and
  • justified – that is, necessarily supported by a reason (just cause, objective or subjective justification).

With regard to resignation (withdrawal by the employee) from open-ended contracts, the general rule is that the party is free to withdraw, subject to the obligation to give notice, unless there is a breach by the employer that constitutes just cause for withdrawal. In fixed-term contracts, termination before the end of the term is allowed only for just cause.

Dismissal (employer-side termination) must necessarily be grounded on:

  • just cause – that is, a fact that does not allow the employment relationship to continue, even temporarily, in which case no notice period applies (eg, a criminal offence);
  • subjective justified reason – that is, a significant failure, but of lesser gravity than the preceding one, to fulfil contractual obligations attributable to the employee's fault, in which case notice must be given (eg, negligent failure to guard property); or
  • objective justification – that is, reasons relating to the employer's production activities, the organisation of work or its proper functioning (eg, loss of job).

Collective dismissal occurs where an employer – whether an entrepreneur or not (employing more than 15 employees) – intends to dismiss, within a period of 120 days, a certain number of workers (at least five in the same production unit or in several units operating in the same province) due to the reduction, transformation or cessation of activities.

5.1 Must a valid reason be given to lawfully terminate an employment contract?

During the probationary period, an employment contract may be terminated without giving a valid reason.

Once the probationary period has ended, an employment contract may be lawfully terminated by the employer only:

  • for just cause – that is, a breach by the employee whose seriousness prevents continuation of the employment relationship, even on a temporary basis (eg, theft of the employer's goods);
  • on subjective justified grounds – that is, a less serious breach by the employee (eg, unjustified absence from work); or
  • on objective justified grounds which relate to the production, the work organisation or its regular operations (ie, individual redundancies).

Moreover, employers with more than 15 employees are entitled to dismiss employees through a collective dismissal procedure. This applies whenever the employer – due to the reduction, transformation or shutdown of activities – intends to dismiss, within a 120-day term, at least five employees employed at the same production unit or at different production units within the same municipality (ie, collective redundancies).

Employment contracts with executive employees are governed by specific rules set forth by national collective bargaining agreements applicable to this category of employee, which generally provide that their dismissal must be ‘justified'.

Otherwise, employees are entitled to resign from the employment relationship at will, conditional upon compliance with the notice period set forth by the applicable national collective bargaining agreement.

5.2 Is a minimum notice period required?

Employees are entitled to the notice period specified in the applicable national collective bargaining agreement in case of the following:

  • dismissal notified through a collective dismissal procedure;
  • dismissal on justified grounds, either subjective or objective;
  • dismissal notified based on absence from work due to illness or injury which exceeds the relevant maximum term set forth by the applicable national collective bargaining agreement;
  • dismissal notified based on the employee's supervening professional unsuitability;
  • termination of the employment relationship due to the employee's death;
  • resignation for cause;
  • resignation served in certain protected periods (eg, during or after pregnancy, parental leave or adoption); or
  • resignation due to a change in working conditions after a transfer of business.

In these scenarios, the employer is entitled to exempt the employee from working during the notice period and pay him or her (or his or her heirs, in case of death) in lieu instead. This payment must be calculated taking into account the employee's base annual gross salary, together with any additional monthly salaries provided for by the applicable national collective bargaining agreement, variable compensation paid over the last three years and the value of fringe benefits granted to the employee.

Employees who resign voluntarily must give advance notice whose term is set forth in the applicable national collective bargaining agreement.

5.2 Is a minimum notice period required?

Generally, the terminating party must observe a notice period – that is, a period which elapses between notice of termination and the time of actual termination. The aim is to prevent the immediate termination of the contract from being detrimental to the other party. The duration of the notice period is normally specified in the applicable collective agreement and varies according to the category of worker, the level of classification and the length of service.

An individual contract may provide only for longer notice periods than those specified in the collective agreement.

During the notice period, the parties retain all rights and obligations under the employment contract.

The obligation to give notice does not apply in case of termination:

  • for just cause;
  • during the probationary period;
  • at the end of a fixed-term contract;
  • that is consensual between employer and employee;
  • during periods of suspension of employment due to redundancy payments; or
  • for failure to resume work following reinstatement.

In all other cases of termination, however, the notice period must be observed. If not, the party that fails to observe the notice period must pay the other party an indemnity in lieu, calculated on the basis of the employee's normal remuneration, including bonuses, commissions and any continued remuneration.

5.3 What rights do employees have when arguing unfair dismissal?

If the dismissal is null and void (eg, discriminatory, in breach of the law or served orally), the employer must reinstate the employee and pay damages of at least five months' salary.

Protection in the event of unlawful dismissal differs not only according to the size of the company (employing up to 15 employees or more), but also according to whether the employee was hired before or after 7 March 2015.

If the employee was hired before 7 March 2015, the remedies are as follows:

  • reinstatement and payment of an indemnity equal to the last full salary, up to a maximum of 12 months' salary, on the grounds that the alleged fact which gave reason for dismissal either did not exist or could not be punished by dismissal;
  • compensation of between 12 and 24 months' salary, if the alleged fact existed but was not punishable by dismissal; or
  • compensation of between six and 12 months' salary if the dismissal is declared ineffective for lack of justification and formal requirements provided by the law.

If any employee other than a "Dirigente" was hired before 7 March 2015, the remedies are as listed below.

  • reinstatement and payment of an indemnity equal to the last full salary, up to a maximum of 12 months' salary, in case of non-existence of the contested fact;
  • damages of between six and 36 months' salary if the dismissal is deemed unlawful on other grounds; or
  • payment of compensation between two and 12 months' salary in the event of formal or procedural defects.

These remedies do not apply to "Dirigenti", i.e., executives, top managers, or expert qualified at high-level employed by a Company under the applicable NCLA, which is other than the employee NCLA in the relevant sector. Their union representation, like their collective bargaining, is separate from that of employees ranked at a lower level.

5.3 What rights do employees have when arguing unfair dismissal?

If the dismissal is deemed null and void (eg, if it relies on discriminatory reasons), the employee is entitled to reinstatement and payment of damages equal to at least five months' salary.

The remedies which apply where a dismissal is found unlawful vary depending on the employee's qualifications and seniority, as well as on the breach by the employer and its gravity.

For middle managers, white-collar workers and blue-collar workers hired before 7 March 2015, they are as follows:

  • reinstatement and payment of damages of up to 12 months' salary in case of no misconduct or misconduct which should have been sanctioned other than by dismissal as per the applicable national collective bargaining agreement, or where an individual redundancy has clearly not occurred;
  • payment of damages of between 12 and 24 months' salary in case of dismissal deemed unlawful for other reasons;
  • payment of damages of between six and 12 months' salary in case of breach by the employer of rules governing the notification procedure for individual dismissals; and
  • payment of damages of between 2.5 and six months' salary (to be increased up to 14 months for employees of a certain seniority) if the employer has up to 60 employees overall and up to 15 employees employed in the same production unit or municipality.

For middle managers, white collar workers and blue collar workers hired after 7 March 2015, they are as follows:

  • reinstatement and payment of damages of up to 12 months' salary if it is directly demonstrated that the misconduct on which the disciplinary dismissal is grounded did not occur;
  • payment of damages of between six and 36 months' salary if the dismissal is deemed unlawful for other reasons;
  • payment of damages equal to one month's salary per year of service, within a minimum and maximum threshold of two and 12 months respectively, in case of breach by the employer of rules governing the notification procedure for individual dismissals; and
  • payment of damages of between one and six months' salary, depending on the seriousness of the breach by the employer, if the employer does not meet the size requirements outlined above.

Executive employees are entitled to payment of a so-called ‘additional indemnity' established by the applicable national collective bargaining agreement (the greater the executive's seniority, the higher the amount of the indemnity).

5.4 What rights, if any, are there to statutory severance pay?

Upon termination of the employment relationship, regardless of the reasons for termination, employees are entitled to the following severance payments:

  • end-of-service allowance, which represents a deferred form of remuneration calculated by adding up, for each year of service, the total inclusive annual remuneration paid to the employee, divided by 13.5. The employee can choose for the end-of-service allowance to be paid:
    • into a specific fund managed by the Italian Social Security Authority (where the employer has 50 employees or fewer, the end-of-service allowance must be set aside in its financial statement and re-evaluated yearly); or
    • into an additional pension fund, either chosen by the employee or, in the absence of such choice, established by the applicable national collective bargaining agreement;
  • indemnity in lieu of accrued and unused holiday and leave, whose duration is set forth by the applicable national collective bargaining agreement; and
  • pro rata additional monthly salaries set forth by the applicable national collective bargaining agreement.

5.4 What rights, if any, are there to statutory severance pay?

Upon termination of employment, regardless of the reasons, an employee is entitled to the following:

  • Trattamento di Fine Rapporto (TFR) severance pay – that is, an element of remuneration whose payment is normally deferred to a later date than the date of employment and which comprises the sum of annual provisions of a portion of remuneration. This is due to all employees, both fixed term and permanent. In the event of the employee's death, it can be paid to his or her partner, children, relatives up to the third degree or relatives in law up to the second degree. It is calculated by adding, for each year of service, a portion equal to and in any case not exceeding the amount of salary due for that year divided by 13.5. It includes all non-occasional payments made in connection with employment, including the equivalent of benefits in kind.
  • TFR severance pay can be managed in different ways:
    • In companies with fewer than 50 employees, management is the responsibility of the employer; and
    • In companies with more than 50 employees, the employer must pay the severance pay to the Treasury Fund set up at the Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale;
  • supplementary pension schemes – the employer pays the amounts set aside as TFR severance pay to the pension fund and the employee, following termination of employment, will receive a supplementary pension where specific pension requirements are met;
  • additional monthly payments provided for by collective agreements; and
  • allowances in lieu of accrued and unused holidays and leave, the duration of which is determined by the applicable collective agreement.

6 Employment tribunals

6.1 How are employment-related complaints dealt with?

The court of first instance, acting as labour judge, is competent to deal with labour disputes. In particular, it deals with disputes involving:

  • private employment agreements;
  • agency agreements;
  • other collaboration agreements resulting in the provision of continuous and coordinated work, mainly of a personal nature, even if not of a subordinate nature; and
  • the labour relations of employees of public bodies (not referred to another court).

Labour proceedings have special characteristics and are inspired by the following principles:

  • orality;
  • immediacy;
  • concentration; and
  • strong investigative powers.

The proceedings begin with the filing of a complaint. The defendant then files a defensive brief in response. At the first hearing, the judge interrogates the parties, attempts to reach a settlement and assesses the admission of evidence. Usually, another hearing is scheduled for this. Once the preliminary investigation phase (if any), has ended, the judge will summon the parties for discussion and will then decide on the case.

One of the main features of labour proceedings is the wide-ranging powers of investigation vested in the judge, who may:

  • admit any means of proof;
  • request written and oral information;
  • arrange access to the workplace; and
  • make even those who are incapable testify.

At the end of the hearing, the judge will pronounce judgment by reading out the order at the hearing, as well as the reasons in fact and in law for the decision. The first-instance judgment can be appealed before the competent court of appeal within six months of publication (or within 30 days of notification); while the second-instance judgment can be appealed before the Court of Cassation within six months of publication (or within 60 days of notification).

6.1 How are employment-related complaints dealt with?

Employment-related claims (including those brought by both permanent and fixed-term employees and agents and self-employed workers/independent contractors) must be filed with the labour courts.

Labour court proceedings differ from regular civil court proceedings in the following ways, among others:

  • A ‘fast track' is established for employment-related claims;
  • The duration of such proceedings is significantly shorter than that of regular civil proceedings;
  • The formal requirements are remarkably less strict than those for regular civil proceedings:
  • At the first hearing, the labour court is required to try to settle the case, providing the terms and conditions of the envisaged settlement agreement; and
  • The powers of the labour courts are significantly broader than those of the regular civil courts. The labour courts are ex officio entitled to:
    • order the taking of any evidence, even in breach of regulations set forth under the law;
    • require the provision of written or oral information to trade unions;
    • order access to the workplace; and
    • examine witnesses who are prevented from examination according to the law.

6.2 What are the procedures and timeframes for employment-related tribunals actions?

Once the claimant has lodged its claim, the labour court will schedule the first hearing date, to take place within the next 60 days. The defendant may file a defensive brief no later than 10 days before such date.

The parties must personally attend the first hearing, at which the labour court may examine them and will try to settle the case.

The labour court will orally issue judgment at the first hearing, unless it intends to appoint an expert or examine witnesses (who will be examined at the first hearing or in an additional hearing to be scheduled in the next 10 days).

In breach of the general rules on the burden of proof in regular civil proceedings, the labour court is ex officio entitled to:

  • order the taking of any evidence, even in breach of regulations set forth under the law;
  • require the provision of written or oral information to trade unions;
  • order access to the workplace; and
  • examine witnesses who are prevented from examination according to the law.

First-instance judgments may be challenged before the Labour Court of Appeal, whose judgments in turn may be challenged before the Supreme Court.

An accelerated procedure applies with respect to employment-related litigation in which the employee claims that his or her dismissal is null and void, and/or – where the employee was hired before 7 March 2015 – the unlawfulness of the termination by the employer.

6.2 What are the procedures and timeframes for employment-related tribunals actions?

Cases that are subject to labour proceedings must be brought by complaint. In this case the complainant must specifically indicate the means of proof and produce documents, on pain of preclusion of the complaint.

Once the appeal has been filed, the judge will, within five days, set a date for the discussion hearing, which must be held within the following 60 days. The defendant must enter an appearance 10 days before the hearing by filing a defence brief.

At the end of the discussion hearing, and having heard the conclusions of the parties, the judge will issue a judgment, reading out the relevant order.

A special procedure applies to appeals against dismissal for employees hired before 7 March 2015, consisting of an initial summary stage and a subsequent – possibly full-cognisance – opposition stage. In this case the action is started by filing a complaint with the competent court in the role of labour judge. The judge – having set the date for a hearing, heard the parties and omitted all formalities that are not essential to the cross-examination – will accept or reject the complaint by means of an order that is immediately enforceable.

The order may be appealed before the same court within 30 days. The appeal ends with a provisionally enforceable judgment, which can be appealed within 30 days before the court of appeal.

The complaint procedure, in which no new evidence or documents are admitted, ends with a judgment that can be appealed to the Supreme Court.

7 Trends and predictions

7.1 How would you describe the current employment landscape and prevailing trends in your jurisdiction? Are any new developments anticipated in the next 12 months, including any proposed legislative reforms?

The gig economy has presented new questions relating to labour law, which have only recently been answered.

The origins of ‘classic' Italian labour law date back to the 1960s and 1970s. It is naturally and historically founded on the definitions of autonomy and subordination: the scheme was the factory; the market was Fordist. Today, things have changed and the boundary between the two categories has become increasingly blurred (and in some cases has disappeared altogether). ‘Hetero-direction', which is the main focus of Italian labour law, is no longer to be found on the assembly line, but now takes the form of increasingly weak powers of control in the face of increasingly ‘agile' jobs. The rules must thus be adapted to reflect these new socio-economic phenomena.

In fact, "Hetero-direction" implies supervision, directives, and control by the top management, as established by the Court of Cassation in its Judgment no. 3640 of 13th February 2020. With reference to a professional who would be entrusted with managerial tasks, it stated that anyone subject to "even a mild or lesser form of supervision and control by the employer, as well as to coordination of the work, according to the company's organizational structure" was to be deemed employed under subordinate work agreement, since "hetero-direction, even if interpreted reasonably with regard to intellectual work, is a decisive criterion for distinguishing the subordinate nature of the employment from a service provided by the professional as free-lance " with reference to Article 2094 of the Italian Civil Code.

Understandably, the COVID-19 pandemic has also had a major impact on labour principles, and on the delicate balance between employers' requirements and workers' rights. In this regard, technological innovations in the workplace have evolved from opportunity to necessity.

This is the direction that the latest legislative actions seem to have taken. No structural reforms are currently underway (except perhaps in the field of social security); but it is both probable and desirable that action will soon be taken to regulate today's digitised, agile and essentially more modern working practices.

8 Tips and traps

8.1 What are your top tips for navigating the employment regime and what potential sticking points would you highlight?

Italian labour law is particularly complex, because it is based on different regulatory levels (laws, collective agreements, individual agreements) whose relationships are complicated and often unclear.

The primary tip is therefore to pay attention to the source of the rights under discussion and never limit oneself to what has been laid down by the national legislature alone, because this may not – or not entirely – apply to the case under analysis.

It is also necessary to take care when entering into contracts other than open-ended, full-time contracts: each ‘non-ordinary' contract has its own peculiarities and, above all, its own system of sanctions in case of violation of the requirements set out by law.

When it comes to open-ended contracts, their termination is burdensome on the employer, who should consider the risks related to this possibility. In fact, the termination may unexpectedly be found unlawful, and the heavy penalties ordered by the Court may still include the employee's reinstatement and the payment to him or her of all wages accruing in the meantime.

Co-Authored by: Cesare Mussi, Tommaso Maisano and Roberta Villani

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.