Hiring employees in Italy | Interviewer and candidate discussing


Hiring employees in Italy: tips and suggestion for companies

​When you are looking to hire employees for your company there are different regulations regarding the decision to hire a citizen of the European Union or one outside of the EU. Likewise, each kind of employee may be subject to different rules. Employment laws and legal provisions within both Italy and the EU are highly developed and strictly governed, especially regarding foreign workers.

Trade Unions and Employment Laws

Role of Trade Unions

Trade unions in Italy have a significant influence on the employment landscape. They play a vital role in protecting workers’ rights, negotiating collective bargaining agreements, and ensuring fair working conditions. There are several major trade unions in Italy, such as CGIL, CISL, and UIL, each representing different sectors and types of workers. Employers must be aware of the presence and power of these unions within their industry and company.

Trade unions often negotiate collective agreements (contratti collettivi nazionali di lavoro, or CCNL) which set out the terms and conditions of employment for specific sectors. These agreements cover aspects such as wages, working hours, holidays, and other benefits. Compliance with these agreements is mandatory, and employers must ensure that their practices align with the stipulated terms.

Basic rules regarding rights and obligations of employment in Italy can be found in the Constitution, the Civil Code , which includes a special section on employment matters, and the Workers’ Statute (Law no. 300/1970).

For more informations, be sure to check also our article about contract work in Italy.

Employment Laws

Italian employment laws are extensive and provide strong protections for employees. The cornerstone of these laws is the Workers’ Statute (Statuto dei Lavoratori), which guarantees various rights and freedoms to workers. Key areas covered by Italian employment laws include:

  • Employment Contracts

All employment relationships must be governed by a written contract. Contracts can be permanent, fixed-term, or part-time, each with specific regulations. The contract must outline the job role, salary, working hours, and other essential terms. Probation periods are permitted but must comply with legal limits.

  • Working Hours and Overtime

The standard working week in Italy is 40 hours, with a maximum of 48 hours including overtime. Overtime work is subject to additional compensation and should not exceed 250 hours per year unless otherwise specified by collective agreements. Employers must ensure that work schedules comply with these regulations to avoid legal issues.

  • Wages and Salaries

Italy does not have a statutory national minimum wage. Instead, minimum wage levels are determined by collective agreements specific to each sector. Employers must adhere to these wage standards to ensure fair compensation for their employees.

Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions of employment are fixed by National Collective Agreements (NCA, sometimes also referred to as Collective Bargaining Agreements or CBAs). They are periodically signed between the trade unions and the employers’ associations of those same industries. 

Drafting an employment contract is a legal requirement whenever you hire employees in Italy and contracts must be drafted in Italian. These employment agreements should spell out everything from compensation and working hours to benefits to termination terms. If you mention (and you should if there is one) an NCA in the employment contract, you are bound by all of its rules. Salary or bonus amounts in euros should also be stated clearly.

Hiring employees in Italy | Interviewer and candidate discussing

Hiring EU vs. Non-EU Citizens: differences according to law

There are no specific rules related to the employment of European Union citizens because they can move and work in every EU Country, free of restrictions (aside from declaring their residence). On the other hand, limitations are set down by Italian law with respect to non-EU citizens. Visas and different work permits are a necessity. For some categories, such as seasonal workers, there will also need to be a provision for housing.

Hiring EU Citizens

Freedom of Movement

One of the primary benefits of hiring EU citizens is the freedom of movement within the European Union. EU citizens have the right to live and work in any EU member state, including Italy, without needing a work permit. This significantly simplifies the hiring process as there are fewer bureaucratic hurdles to overcome.

Employment Contracts

When hiring EU citizens, the employment contract requirements are the same as for Italian nationals. Employers must provide a written contract outlining the terms and conditions of employment, such as job role, salary, working hours, and other essential details. EU citizens are entitled to the same rights and protections under Italian labor laws as Italian workers.

Social Security and Taxation

EU citizens working in Italy are subject to the same social security and tax obligations as Italian nationals. They must register with the Italian social security system (INPS) and obtain a tax code (codice fiscale). Employers must ensure proper registration and contributions to social security on behalf of their EU employees.

Residence Registration

EU citizens planning to stay in Italy for more than three months must register with the local registry office (anagrafe) to obtain a certificate of residence (certificato di residenza). This registration is straightforward and usually requires proof of employment, health insurance, and sufficient financial resources.

Hiring Non-EU Citizens

Work Permits and Visas

Hiring non-EU citizens involves a more complex process, as they must obtain a work permit and visa to legally work in Italy. The employer must apply for a work permit (nulla osta) from the immigration office. Once approved, the employee can apply for a work visa at the Italian consulate in their home country. The type of visa required depends on the nature and duration of the employment.

Quota System

Italy operates a quota system (decreto flussi) that limits the number of non-EU workers allowed into the country each year for certain types of employment. Employers must check the annual quotas and ensure that they apply for work permits within the allocated limits. Some categories of workers, such as highly skilled professionals, researchers, and intra-company transferees, may be exempt from these quotas.

Employment Contracts and Rights

Non-EU citizens are entitled to the same employment rights and protections as Italian nationals and EU citizens once they are legally employed in Italy. This includes adherence to collective agreements, fair wages, working hours, and other employment standards. The employment contract must comply with Italian labor laws and outline the terms of employment clearly.

Social Security and Taxation

Non-EU employees must be registered with the Italian social security system and obtain a tax code. Employers are responsible for making social security contributions on behalf of their non-EU employees. The taxation rules for non-EU workers are the same as for EU citizens and Italian nationals.

Residence Permit

After arriving in Italy, non-EU citizens must apply for a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) within eight days. This permit is essential for legally residing and working in Italy and must be renewed periodically. The application process requires providing proof of employment, accommodation, and sufficient financial means.

Compliance and Documentation

A non-EU citizen can only start after a specific immigration procedure is completed, which includes complying with the limitation of the annual quotas. These quotas are determined yearly by the government. After they are established, a non-EU citizen must request a work visa, assuming that they have been offered employment in Italy.

Non-EU citizens must first obtain the necessary documents from their new Italian employer that indicate the employee is entering the country for work reasons. Generally, the foreign worker will have to process their application at the Italian Consulate in their home country, that is, before coming to Italy. After reviewing those documents, the Italian Police Headquarters (Questura) may issue a work visa to non-EU employees. The employer must send all the administrative paperwork to the Immigration office before the employee enters the country to work. Entering before the process is completed can result in it being nullified.

Contracts: tips for signing & negotations

​Employment contracts are governed by the general rules set out in the Civil Code and the relevant NCA. The employment relationship is defined in the employment contract. The two main types of contract are fixed-term and part-time, but there are also contracts for apprenticeships, on-call jobs, those acquired through an agency, and seasonal jobs (usually for agricultural workers).

Part Time Employment Contract

Part-time employment contracts must be written and specify the working hours (e.g., by day, week, month, and year). Pay and other entitlements of part-time employees are normally pro-rated to those applicable to full-timers in the same job i.e., part-time workers get all of the same benefits as full-time workers. Ancillary clauses can be added to part-time contracts, allowing employers greater flexibility:

  • Elastic clauses (clausole elastiche) permit an employer to increase working time as needed;
    ●  Flexible clauses (clausole flessibili) permit an employer to vary working hours during the day.

Fixed Time Employment Contract

Under legislative decree No. 368/2001, a company can hire employees with a fixed-term contract for arrangements limited by time. Fixed-term contracts can last up to 36 months, including any extension. There are quantitative limits, usually set by the labour authorities (in the NCA), however the law states that the overall number of fixed-term contracts may not exceed 20% of the permanent workforce. Fixed-term contracts also cannot be used to replace workers on strike or to replace employees temporarily laid-off or involved in collective dismissals in the past few months.

Given the very large number of NCAs and their extensive use by the employers, employment agreements in Italy normally consist of simple hiring letters that refer to the items required by the law: identity of the parties, place of work, employment start date, trial period (if any), duration of the employment (in case of a fixed-term contract), employees’ duties, and the provisions contained in the applicable NCAs.

Individual employment contracts 

Individual employment contracts also specify the employee’s category as established by the Civil Code under article 2095. There are four categories of employees: executives (dirigenti), middle managers (quadri), white collar employees (impiegati), blue collar employees (operai).

Jobs are subject to a trial period or probationary period in which the contract can be terminated by either party without notice or obligation. Alternatively, an employee may be compensated in the event of a termination if not notice is given. The probation period and notice period are generally set in the relevant NCA for that employee’s category, as listed above.

Regarding health and safety, an employer’s main obligations are to:

  1. Evaluate health and safety risks in the workplace.
  2. Identify the steps that must be taken to comply with safety requirements.
  3. Eliminate or reduce the risks to a minimum.

Once all of these things are carefully included in the contract you can safely hire employees from both within and outside of the EU.


  1. Hi, a company based in germany want to make me an offer of employment even if they do not have alegal entity in italy. Is it risky? should they respect the local provisions in terms of wages, lay off, time off, etc?

  2. Thank you for your sharing. I am worried that I lack creative ideas. It is your article that makes me full of hope. Thank you. But, I have a question, can you help me?

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