Working in Italy – types, contracts, rights, annual/sick leave, hours

In Italy, there are 3 types of employment relationship:

  • Permanent, fixed-term or seasonal employment;
  • Para-subordinate work (e.g. project contract);
  • Self-employment.

As a worker, you have the following rights:

  • Right to remuneration, that is the right to receive money in proportion to the quantity and quality of your work, and in any case sufficient to assure a free and dignified existence to you and your family;
  • Personal rights, including the right to physical integrity and health, freedom of opinion and protection of privacy and dignity, and the right to education for student workers;
  • Trade union rights, including the right to strike, freedom of organisation and trade union activities.

Normally, working hours are in the range of 40 hours per week. You are entitled to 11 consecutive hours of rest every 24 hours and a resting period of at least 24 consecutive hours, usually on Sundays, every 7 days. You are also entitled to paid annual leave, which should last at least 4 weeks and which you cannot give up with. In case of illness, you have the right not to go to work while maintaining your job and the right to a salary, to the extent and for the time determined by law or collective bargaining. In case of pregnancy, you are entitled to 5 months of “maternity leave”, from the second month before the birth until the third month afterwards.

Right to work 

The right to work is one of the fundamental rights the Italian Constitution grants to you once resettled on the Italian territory. You have the same rights Italian citizens have when it comes to matters related to employment, self-employment, registration to professional bodies and professional training. You can start working legally in Italy when your application for international protection is accepted and your residence permit issued. The right to work also allows you to access the so-called “Servizi per l’impiego” and other economic and educational services. 

Employment Services

The Employment Services are public facilities that replace the old “employment offices” and are supposed to put you in contact with a potential employer and help you find a job.

To access Employment Services, you need to subscribe to the so-called “registry list”, producing two documents:

  • the ‘personal data sheet’ with your complete personal data and those of your family, your educational qualification, and your employment status; and
  • the ‘professional card’ (the old “work booklet”), with information on your training and professional experience, your availability and the certification of your professional skills

Earnings and Tax

In Italy, all citizens must pay taxes based on their economic capacity. Once you find a job, each year you will have to submit a document (called “Dichiarazione dei redditi”) to the Agenzia delle Entrate stating how much money you earned in the past year. Based on this declaration, the taxes you have to pay will be calculated. This is a proportional fiscal system in the sense that the more money you earn, the more taxes you have to pay. The submission must be done following an online procedure.

Working for Yourself

In Italy, you have the opportunity to work on your own and not to be subordinate to any employer. This means that you do not receive a monthly salary, but how much you earn depends on the amount of work you do for a client. In this case you are called “self-employed” and you have the right to manage your business as you prefer in relation to the time, location and organization of your work. You should know that you have obligations to comply with in order to work for yourself, such as registering to INPS and INAIL, opening a VAT number, choosing the tax regime and completing the Declaration of commencement of business (for more information you can consult the website of the Genzia delle Entrate).

Further Information and Links

Pay attention to the so-called “Lavoro nero”!! Sometimes it is also known as undeclared or informal work, and it is an employment relationship that does not provide any kind of social security or insurance guarantee. Due to its illegal nature, it often involves exploitation and violation of rights, or worse. If you believe you have been placed in an illegal employment circuit and you want to get out of it, or you know someone who wants to do so, talk to a trusted person and consult with the associations that deal with the protection of the workers.