Last updated on: May 4th, 2023
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
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.
The aforementioned minimum period of four weeks cannot be replaced by relative indemnity for holidays not taken, except in the case of termination of the employment relationship.
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).
Employed fathers are entitled to 10 days of compulsory Paternity leave, which is an individual right and independent of the mother’s right to Maternity leave. Working father could benefit from 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).
The law 104/92 provides that cohabiting spouse, a person with a serious disability has the right to benefit from paid leave within 60 days of the request. The leave cannot exceed a total duration of 2 years for each person with a disability during the working life of the person who assists them. The leave is granted on the condition that the person to be assisted is not hospitalized full-time.
The cohabiting children of the disabled person are also entitled to take advantage of the leave, in the event of the death, absence, or pathology of the cohabiting spouse, and – in the second instance – one of the brothers or sisters living together with the disabled person, in the event of absence or pathology of the children cohabitants. Article 3 of Law 104/92.
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.
Employees are entitled to a paid leave of three working days a year in the event of death or documented serious illness of their spouse or a relative within the second degree or of the cohabitant, provided that the stable cohabitation with the worker or the worker results from registry certification. Alternatively, in cases of documented serious illness, the male and female worker can agree with the employer on different ways of carrying out the work activity. Article. 4 paragraph 1 of Law 8 March 2000, n. 53.
Employees of public or private employers can request, for serious and documented family reasons, including pathologies identified pursuant to Ministerial Decree of 21 July 2000, n. 278, a period of leave, continuous or split, not exceeding two years. During this period, the employee keeps his job, has no right to remuneration, and cannot carry out any type of work activity. The leave is not calculated in the length of service or for social security purposes; the worker can proceed with the redemption, or with the payment of the related contributions, calculated according to the criteria of voluntary continuation. Article. 4 paragraph 2 of Law 8 March 2000, n. 53.
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.