The basic rights of employees are laid out in the Italian Constitution and the Civil Code. There is no central employment law, but there are a variety of laws addressing various aspects of the employment relationship. As a member of the European Union, Italy has agreed to comply with various labor standards shared by all EU countries. For example, the EU 1993 working time directive requires member countries to guarantee paid annual leave of at least four weeks to every worker. A 2003 legislative decree that includes provisions on work hours and leaves brought Italian law into compliance with the directive. Most Italian employees are covered by collective labor agreements.
Hours & Pay Regulations
There are typically 40 hours of work per week, not to exceed 48 hours, including overtime, in any seven-day period within an averaging period of several months (as many as 12 months in some cases). Legislative Decree of April 8, 2003, No. 66, Work Time, arts. 3-5.
Work done in excess of 40 hours in a week is considered overtime and is generally paid at a rate of 20 – 25 percent above the regular pay rate. Collective labor agreements can provide for higher overtime rates. If not specified otherwise, overtime cannot exceed eight hours weekly or 250 hours per year. Violations can result in the levy of administrative fines. Legislative Decree of April 8, 2003, No. 66, Work Time, art. 5.
Night Period: the period of at least 7 consecutive hours including the interval between midnight and five in the morning
Night Worker: who performs during the night period at least:
- 3 hours of his daily working time used in the normal way.
- 80 working days per year of night work, re-proportioned for part-time work.
Night work is provided only by suitable personnel; collective labor agreements will establish the requirements of night workers and cases of exclusion.
Employees are entitled to rest periods of at least 10 minutes after working six consecutive hours, of at least 11 consecutive hours in every 24 and 24 consecutive hours every seven days, typically Sunday.
Minors are guaranteed at least two days of rest per week, preferably consecutive and including Sunday. Legislative Decree of April 8, 2003, No. 66, Work Time, arts. 3-5.
Workers receive an additional day’s pay if a public holiday falls on a Sunday or another day that is not usually a workday. Workers who must work on a holiday are paid overtime. Italy observes the following public holidays, which for employees are generally treated as paid leave:
- Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
- Jan. 6: Epiphany
- Easter Monday
- April 25: Liberation Day
- May 1: Labor Day
- June 2: Date of the Founding of the Republic
- Aug. 15: Assumption Day
- Nov. 1: All Saints’ Day
- Dec. 8: Feast of the Immaculate Conception
- Dec. 25: Christmas Day
- Dec. 26: St. Stephen’s Day
Each locality also observes an additional holiday to honor its patron saint. Provision on Festive Occasions, No. 260, May 27, 1949.
Employees are entitled to 4 weeks’ paid annual leave, 2 of those weeks consecutive at the employee’s request. An employer may require an employee to take vacation leave at a specific time in consideration of the needs of the business. Employees cannot take pay instead of annual leave except when the employment relationship is terminated. Two of the four weeks must be taken during the year in which they are earned, although the other two may be carried over for an additional 18 months. Legislative Decree of April 8, 2003, No. 66, Work Time, art. 10 (Italian); Civil Code, 1942 (as amended), art. 2109.
Italian law does not specify a minimum wage. Wages are usually set by collective labor agreements.
Pregnant workers are required to take five months’ maternity leave, which can be taken from two months before delivery and for three months after. As per the amendment effective January 2019, a pregnant employee may choose to start the 5 months of maternity after the childbirth.
During the compulsory rest period, the mother is entitled to 80 percent of her regular pay from the social security system. During the entire pregnancy, the employee must not be allocated tasks that may endanger her health. Following maternity leave, employees are entitled to return to the same job in which they were employed before taking leave.
During the first year following childbirth, working mothers can take two one-hour daily breaks during the workday, one if working time is less than six hours daily. These breaks may be taken off-premises if the employee wishes. During pregnancy and up to seven months after the child’s birth, female workers have the right to be transferred to a different job with no reduction in pay if necessary to protect the mother’s or the child’s health. Employers may not dismiss female employees during pregnancy and until the child is 1 year old except in certain circumstances. Legislative Decree of March 26, 2001, Consolidated Laws on the Protection and Support of Motherhood and Fatherhood, arts. 22, 32, 34, 54; Legislative Decree of June 15, 2015, No. 80, art. 7. Budget Law for 2019 (Law No. 145/2018).
Pregnant employees are allowed to stay at work until the ninth month of pregnancy with the prior authorization of their gynecologist and the competent doctor. This means they can take all of their mandatory maternity leave of five months in full after the birth. Before this legislative change, pregnant employees had to refrain from working two months before the birth (or at least one month before the birth, if authorized). Budget Law for 2019 (Law No. 145/2018).
Mandatory Paid Paternity leave is extended from the previous four days to five days. It can be taken during the first five months following the child’s birth. Working father could benefit of 1 extra day, in substitution of the mother and previous agreement with her. Should the mother die or become seriously ill, the father may take paternity leave equal to what the mother would have received in maternity leave, the cost borne by the social security system. The father is also entitled to what would have been the mother’s daily break entitlement if the child is raised by the father only, the mother is not employed or the mother dies or becomes gravely ill. Legislative Decree of March 26, 2001, Consolidated Laws on the Protection and Support of Motherhood and Fatherhood, arts. 28, 34 (Italian); Law No. 92 of 2012, art. 24. The bonus provided to employees for enrolling children in the nursery has been increased to EUR 1500 for 2019. Budget Law for 2019 (Law No. 145/2018).
Entitlement to sick leave is usually specified by a collective labor agreement. A worker typically gets full pay during sick leave, partly from the employer and partly from the National Social Security Institute.
Either parent may take parental leave for up to six months each (with an overall limit of 10 months together) during the first 12 years of each child’s life at 30 percent pay.
Requests for smart working should have priority for:
- Mothers, during the 3 years after the end of the mandatory maternity leave;
- Both parents, in case of a child affected by disability.
Budget Law for 2019 (Law No. 145/2018).
Employees are entitled to 15 days’ paid personal leave at the time of their marriage and occasional days off for family responsibilities, including the death of a relative or the sickness of a child.
Workers with at least five years’ seniority at a company are entitled to 11 months of unpaid education leave, either continuous or intermittent, to attend college or other schools. Collective labor agreements generally specify additional education benefits, such as a number of hours of paid education leave.
An employer must preserve the employee’s position during a period of military service plus 30 days after discharge. The employer is not required to pay the employee during this time but must include the period in calculations of seniority.
Last updated on: October 15th, 2019