In general, work done under an employment contract in the worker's home (or available accommodation), as opposed to the practice of doing work on the employer's premises. This is an important phenomenon but not easy to analyse, particularly in view of the difficulty in establishing a clear distinction between homeworkers who are self-employed (often in the form of an artisanal enterprise) and homeworkers who are employees.

The most recent legislation on the subject (Law No. 877 of December 18, 1973) attempted to discourage the replacement of work on the employer's premises by homeworking by guaranteeing homeworkers, as far as possible, parity of pay and terms and conditions of employment with "in"-workers. First of all, it adopted a precise definition of homeworking: workers must work in their domestic home (or in premises of their own); they must not make use of other workers, but may be helped only by members of their own family; and they must be subject to the technical instructions of an employer.

Contrary to what had been laid down previously, being listed on the register of artisans does not automatically rule out the possibility, where the above conditions are met, of workers being classed as homeworkers.

To control the application of the Law, its provisions set up special commissions on homeworking (at the various territorial levels) and a system of comprehensive and detailed documentation intended to regularize both the phenomenon as a whole and individual employment relationships. This system of regulation, which is less advantageous for the workers themselves (mainly for tax reasons) as compared with the status of artisan, has met with very little success: it has been calculated that in Italy homeworkers classified as such within the meaning of Law No. 877/73 number about 100,000 at present.

Technological innovations will continue to transform homeworking radically, making the legislative and contractual regulations even more inadequate (since they were designed for traditional manufacturing work); one case in point is telework , i.e. the form of remote working made possible by the use of electronic equipment.

Please note: the European industrial relations glossaries were compiled between 1991 and 2003 and are not updated. For current material see the European industrial relations dictionary.