Contract work in Italy: essential tips and
Moving to Italy, learning a new language, finding an apartment and looking for a job can take a
toll when starting a new life abroad. Even after finally landing a job in Italy, you might feel tempted to just sign
the employment contract and get it over with. However, a good foundation in the basics of Italian work contracts
will go a long way to making that new life a bit easier.
Requirements and Eligibility for Working in Italy
As always, the first thing you should know is whether or not you are eligible to work in Italy
and what the requirements are. Non-European job seekers will first need to find a job—in most cases even before
arriving in Italy—so they can apply for a work permit.
Employment Contract Basics
In Italy, every staff member needs to have an employment contract (contratto di lavoro). The employment
contract describes in detail the specifics of the working relationship between both parties, the employer
and employee. It has to include: job title, salary, responsibilities, duties, sick pay, holidays and
notice periods. Most employment contracts can be made in any language. What’s important is that both parties
understand the content of the contract’s terms and conditions.
There are two main kinds of contracts. The first is a permanent employment contract (contratto a
tempo indeterminato) and the second is a fixed-term employment contract
(contratto a termine or contratto a tempo determinato). Both types are bound by the general rules
established by the Italian Civil Code. New legislation has been recently passed with the intent to
encourage companies to offer permanent employment contracts and discourage the use of fixed-term employment
contracts, imposing several constraints to the latter. This is clearly a new course for Italian law, considering
that regulations from 2015 were, instead, aimed at easing the use of fixed-term employment agreements, in a call for
higher flexibility in the job market.
National Collective Agreements
Each industry in Italy has a National Collective Agreement (NCA) that regulates
the employment relationship. Because of this, Italian employment
agreements normally take the form of a simple hiring letter. This letter refers to the items required
by the law such as the identity of the parties, place of work, start date, trial period, duration of employment (if
the contract is fixed-term), employee’s duties and the provisions specified in the relevant NCA.
Permanent Employment Contracts
The permanent employment contract governs the more traditional employment
relationship in Italy. This type of contract has an indefinite time period and guarantees the employee
more protection than any other form of Italian employment contract because there
is no end date and the conditions necessary to be fired are strict. As such, it is more coveted than the others.
Companies can also hire employees with a fixed-term contract for an established, but limited period
of time. A fixed-term contract can last up to 12 months and can be extended up to 24 months in specific cases. The
limits are typically set by national collective
agreements (NCA). Italian law states that the general number of
fixed-term contracts may not exceed the 20% threshold of the workforce who are hired on a permanent basis. Since
this contract lasts for a specified period and terminates automatically neither party needs to give notice.
A fixed-term contract can be renewed, but before renewal the employment relationship must be interrupted for a
period of 10 days (for contracts up to 6 months) or 20 days (for contracts over 6 months). If the parties fail to do
so or if the employment relationship endures beyond the end date (and beyond a “grace period” of 30 or 50 days
depending on the duration of the contract), the contract automatically becomes permanent. The previously mentioned
“grace period” entitles the employee to a salary increase of 20% and extends up to 40%.
Fixed-term contracts cannot be used to replace workers on strike or to replace
employees temporarily laid off or involved in recent collective
Part-time contracts must be drawn up in writing and specify the employee’s working
hours. Any pay and other entitlements are pro-rated according to full-time employees carrying out the
same job. An employer can add specific ancillary clauses, either elastic clauses (clausole elastiche) or
flexible clauses (clausole flessibili) to increase working time or vary working
hours during the day.
With On-call contracts an employee declares their availability to work over a
certain period of time. During these times the employee can be called in on short notice. This
contract must be drafted in writing. In some cases, the contract may state that the employee is bound to work if
called in by the employer. If this happens, the employee is eligible for an additional percentage of the wage set by
the corresponding National Collective Agreement.
An apprenticeship is an open-ended contract focused on vocational or occupational training. An
employer can hire apprentices within certain quantitative thresholds which usually depend on the number of employees
hired. The employer is responsible for ensuring that the apprentice acquires the relevant professional skills and
qualifications over the course of employment.
Check this salary calculator to find out your net income
When Everything Looks Good
If you agree with all the terms and conditions as well as the type of contract the employer offers
you for that new job in Italy, you can sign off with peace of mind and begin your new life in Italy.