Living and working in Italy

19 Μάιος 2022

Data source: Eurostat

Eurofound provides research, data and analysis on a wide range of social and work-related topics. This information is largely comparative, but also offers country-specific information for each of the EU Member States, which included the UK prior to its withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020. Most information is available in English but some has been translated to facilitate access at national level.

Eurofound strives to strengthen the ongoing link between its own work and national policy debates and priorities related to quality of life and work. Increasingly important in this context are the EU’s policy priorities for a European Green Deal, a digital future, an economy that works for people, promoting and strengthening European democracy. To help repair the economic and social damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU leaders have also agreed on a recovery plan that will lead the way out of the crisis and lay the foundations for a modern and more sustainable Europe. The EU’s long-term budget, coupled with NextGenerationEU, the temporary instrument designed to boost the recovery, will be the largest stimulus package ever financed through the EU budget to help rebuild a post-COVID-19 Europe. 

The European Semester provides a framework for the coordination of economic policies across the EU. It allows Member States to discuss their economic and budget plans and monitor progress at specific times throughout the year. For 2022, the European Semester resumes it broad economic and employment policy coordination, while further adapting in line with the implementation requirements of  the Recovery and Resilience Facility. As part of this, Member States are encouraged to submit national reform programmes and stability/convergence programmes that will set out their economic and fiscal policy plans, as in previous Semester cycles. The main change in the 2022 cycle will be that the national reform programme will play a dual role. Besides its role for the European Semester, it will also fulfil one of the two bi-annual reporting requirements of Member States under the Recovery and Resilience Facility.


2015 Eurofound EWCS survey results in Italy: 87% of people think their safety is not at risk because of their work

Living and working in Italy and COVID-19

COVID-19 continues to have a profound impact on people’s lives across the globe, with major implications for quality of life and work. Eurofound has taken a multipronged response to the pandemic, adapting its research focus in a variety of ways. A new database of national-level policy responses, EU PolicyWatch, collates information on measures taken by government and social partners, as well as company practices, aiming to cushion the effects of the crisis. Eurofound's unique e-survey, Living, working and COVID-19, provides an insight into the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives across the EU, with the aim of helping policymakers to bring about an equal recovery from the crisis. Five rounds of the survey have been carried out to date: in April 2020 when most Member States were in lockdown, in July 2020 when society and economies were slowly reopening, in March 2021 as countries dealt again with various levels of lockdown and vaccine rollout, a panel survey in October/November 2021 to track developments since the start of the pandemic, and in March–May 2022, charting the latest developments and looking at how life has changed over the past two years. The survey investigates the impact on quality of life and society, democracy and trust, working and teleworking, the financial situation and security of people, the quality of public services, support measures and vaccinations during COVID-19. Findings for each country and a range of data pages are available.

Explore our data pages by country to find out more on the situation in Italy.


The country page gives access to Eurofound's most recent survey data and news, directly related to Italy:

Research carried out prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020, and published subsequently, may include data relating to the 28 EU Member States. Following this date, research only takes into account the 27 EU Member States (EU28 minus the UK), unless specified otherwise.

Survey results

Ability to choose or change
methods of work

Data source: 2015 EWCS survey

Possibility to accumulate overtime
for days off

Data source: 2013 ECS survey

Recent developments

Eurofound contacts in Italy

Correspondents in Italy

Correspondents report on topics related to developments in the country's working life and inform Eurofound’s pan-European comparative analysis. Read more

Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini S.R.L SB

Eurofound Management Board members from Italy

Eurofound's Management Board is made up of representatives of the social partners and national governments of all Member States, European Commission representatives and an independent expert appointed by the European Parliament. Read more

Romolo De Camillis Ministry of Labour and Social Policy

Stefania Rossi General Confederation of Italian Industry (Confindustria)

Andrea Mone Italian Workers' Trade Unions Confederation - CISL

Related content

Other country-specific information may be available in certain areas on demand. Please feel free to contact your country contact at Eurofound for this or any other information at

Living in Italy

Quality of life

Quality of life

According to the European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS), both life satisfaction and happiness have decreased in Italy. Life satisfaction decreased from 7.2 in 2003 to 6.6 in 2016, and happiness decreased from 7.5 in 2003 to 6.8 in 2016 (on a scale of 1–10). Similar negative patterns can also be seen in other indicators about the quality of life. For instance, the share of people reporting difficulties in making ends meet has increased constantly since the first EQLS in 2003. Survey respondents in Italy are also less optimistic than people on average in the EU28: 47% of respondents in Italy were optimistic about their own future in 2016, in comparison to an EU average of 64%. Additionally, 41% of respondents in Italy were optimistic about their children’s or grandchildren’s future, again lower than the EU average of 57% in 2016.

Life satisfactionMean (1-10)
Taking all things together on a scale of 1 to 10, how happy would you say you are?Mean (1-10)
Optimism about own futureAgree & strongly agree---47%
Optimism about children’s or grandchildren’s futureAgree & strongly agree---41%
Take part in sports or physical exerciseAt least once a week--31%32%
In general, how is your health?Very good-17%20%18%
WHO-5 mental wellbeing indexMean (1-100)-596459
Making ends meetWith some difficulty, difficulty, and great difficulty27%43%44%53%
I feel I am free to decide how to live my lifeStrongly agree--27%17%
I find it difficult to deal with important problems that come up in my lifeAgree & strongly agree---21%
When things go wrong in my life, it generally takes me a long time to get back to normalAgree & strongly agree---26%

Work-life balance

Work-life balance

Based on the three work–life balance indicators in the EQLS, work–life balance in Italy is around or slightly better than the EU average. For example, in 2016, 55% of respondents in Italy reported being too tired from work to do some of the household jobs which need to be done at least several times a month, which is slightly below the 59% average in the EU28. Furthermore, 36% of respondents in Italy reported having difficulties to fulfil family responsibilities because of work, close to the EU28 average of 38%. Regarding the third work–life balance indicator, 18% of respondents in Italy said they found it difficult to concentrate at work because of family responsibilities, which is very close to the EU28 average of 19%.

(At least several times a month)   
I have come home from work too tired to do some of the household jobs which need to be doneTotal50%37%37%55%
It has been difficult for me to fulfil my family responsibilities because of the amount of time I spend on the jobTotal27%24%21%36%
I have found it difficult to concentrate at work because of my family responsibilitiesTotal9%12%9%18%

Quality of society

Quality of society

Perceived tensions between poor and rich in Italy have decreased since the 2011 peak, from 32% of the respondents reporting a lot of tension in 2011 to 25% in 2016. This is also below the EU28 average of 29% in 2016. However, perceived tensions between different racial and ethnic groups have increased significantly, from 38% of respondents reporting a lot of this type of tension in 2011 to 55% in 2016, up by 17 percentage points. In 2016, Italy had the highest share of respondents among the EU28 reporting ‘a lot of tension’ between different racial and ethnic groups.

The Social Exclusion Index has somewhat deteriorated from 2.2 in 2011 to 2.4 in 2016. This is also higher than the EU28 average of 2.1 in 2016 (on a scale of 1–5 where a higher value implies higher social exclusion). However, trust in people among respondents in Italy has increased from 4.8 in 2011 to 5.2 in 2016 (on a scale of 1–10). Nevertheless, this is still lower than the mean trust in people in 2003, which stood at 5.6.

Social exclusion indexMean (1-5)-
Trust in peopleMean (1-10)
Involvement in unpaid voluntary work% "at least once a month"--9%7%
Tension between poor and rich people% reporting 'a lot of tension'21%28%32%25%
Tension between different racial and ethnic groups% reporting 'a lot of tension'40%54%38%55%
I feel safe when I walk alone after darkStrongly agree---20%

Quality of public services

Quality of public services

Quality ratings for seven public services

Note: scale of 1-10, Source: EQLS 2016.

The perceived qualities of the seven public services presented below are lower in Italy in comparison to their EU28 averages. When looking at the yearly changes, the quality ratings for many services decreased in Italy between 2003 and 2007. However, since 2007 a majority of the ratings have bounced back to the 2003 levels. For instance, the perceived quality of health services decreased from 5.8 in 2003 to 5.3 in 2007, started to improve in 2011 rising to 5.5 and bounced back to the 2003 level of 5.8 in 2016 (on a scale of 1–10). Only the perceived quality of the state pension system in Italy has continued to deteriorate, falling from 5.4 in 2003, to 4.4 in 2016.

Health servicesMean (1-10)
Education systemMean (1-10)
Public transportMean (1-10)
Childcare servicesMean (1-10)-
Long-term care servicesMean (1-10)--5.25.5
Social housingMean (1-10)--5.04.9
State pension systemMean (1-10)

Working life in Italy


  • Συντάκτης: Roberto Pedersini
  • Institution: Università degli Studi di Milano
  • Published on: Δευτέρα, Αύγουστος 9, 2021

This profile describes the key characteristics of working life in Italy. It aims to complement other EurWORK research, by providing the relevant background information on structures, institutions and relevant regulations regarding working life. This includes indicators, data and regulatory systems on the following aspects: actors and institutions, collective and individual employment relations, health and well-being, pay, working time, skills and training, and equality and non-discrimination at work. The profiles are updated annually.


Highlights – Working life in 2021

Highlights – Working life in 2021

Author: Roberto Pedersini 
Institution: University of Milan (UNIMI)
Highlights updated on: 19 May 2022
Working paper: Italy: Working life in the COVID-19 pandemic 2021

Italy recorded strong economic growth in 2021 and a good labour market performance. Concerns emerged towards the end of the year because of growing bottlenecks in supply chains, with shortages of raw materials and intermediate inputs, as well as growing transport costs and difficulties in finding high-skilled workers. Rising inflation was seen as a potential threat for economic growth, including the impact on interest rates and therefore on the cost of the public debt service – 150.4% of GDP in 2021, down from 155.3% in 2020. The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation in late February 2022 generated new fears and uncertainty about the future.

Significant challenges lie ahead for the government and the social partners. It is likely that political instability and tensions between the grand coalition partners will increase, as the government’s enters its final year and parties begin to prepare for elections due to take place in early 2023. The possibility of early elections cannot be ruled out, as some of the coalition parties may try to gain consensus among those unsatisfied with the government’s policies. The fiscal reform proposed by the government may induce some parties to leave the coalition and trigger the process that could lead to new elections ahead of schedule.

Growing inflation will put wage bargaining under pressure: on the one hand, wage moderation would be a factor in avoiding spiralling price–wage increases, preserving economic growth, and maintaining competitiveness; on the other, trade unions are likely to consider it unacceptable, since it would lead to a substantial erosion of real wages. Such difficulties, combined with the efforts needed to implement the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the accompanying reforms, might lead to some new forms of social concertation, which trade unions, in particular, have been demanding for a long time.

As for work organisation, remote working will remain under the spotlight for some time, because the return to on-site work and the consolidation of remote working will require significant adaptations in workplace arrangements and practices. To some extent, the regulatory framework, legislation and collective bargaining will need to address this issue and rules should take into consideration the results of the experiments introduced during the pandemic. Moreover, if the narrative about the ‘big quit’ is to be believed, labour market shortages in high-skilled professions may increase the bargaining power of the segments of the workforce who often appear better equipped to work remotely and possibly also more interested in more autonomy to manage their own working time. Should companies have to accommodate such requests, there could be huge changes in work organisation.

Key figures

Key figures

Comparative figures on working life in Italy




% (point) change 2012 –2019

% (point) change 2019 –2020










GDP per capita









Unemployment rate – total









Unemployment rate – women









Unemployment rate – men









Unemployment rate – youth









Employment rate – total









Employment rate – women









Employment rate – men









Employment rate – youth









Source: Eurostat – Real GDP per capita (chain linked volumes [2010], in EUR) and percentage change 2012–2020 (both based on sdg_08_10). Unemployment rate by sex and age – annual average (15–74 years, % active population) and youth (15–24 years) % [une_rt_a]; Employment rate by sex and age – annual average (15–64 years, unit % total population, employment indicator active population) % [lfsi_emp_a].



Economic and labour market context

Economic growth slowed down in Italy in 2019, with an increase over the year of only 0.3. Employment results were relatively positive, with an increase in the number of employed and a reduction in unemployment. In 2019, the employment rate reached 65.7% and unemployment stood at 10%. Employment growth involved both men and women as well as the youth. The youth unemployment rate was 29.2% at the end of 2019. The overall increase in employment was the result of a reduction in open-ended contracts (down by 0.6 pp since December 2017) and an increase in temporary contracts (up by 8.9) and self-employed (0.6% more). In 2020, due to the pandemic, the GDP decreased by 8.4% and employment rate decreased by 1.6 pp.

More information on:

Legal context

Relationships between employers and employees are regulated in considerable detail by Italian law and – where applicable – by the relevant National Collective Bargaining Agreement (NCBA), which leaves only a few matters to be settled by individual negotiations and agreements. One of the most significant laws governing labour relationships is Act no. 300/1970 (hereinafter ‘Workers’ Statute’), whose purpose is to safeguard workers’ freedom and dignity. The Workers’ Statute seeks to achieve this aim through detailed regulations and the promotion of in-shop union activities, the prohibition of anti-union behaviour, and anti-discrimination clauses on hiring and dismissal practices, which protect trade union representatives with special provisions. To secure quick judicial enforcement of workers’ rights, simplified special procedures were introduced to the Italian Civil Procedure Code by Law no. 533/1973; nevertheless, the existing case backlog in courts is considerable.

The regulation of industrial relations is mostly left to the autonomy of social partners, which have in recent years addressed the issue of representation and representativeness as well as the coordination of collective bargaining in an organised decentralisation perspective. Legislative provisions often act in a promotional way by allowing collective bargaining to introduce flexibility in the regulation of the employment relationship, for instance, concerning the utilisation of non-standard employment contracts and in working time. Recent interventions have also tried to promote decentralised bargaining by granting fiscal and social contribution benefits. An exception in this non-interventionist stance is article 8 of decree law 138/2011, which introduced the possibility of local ‘proximity’ agreements to derogate from collective agreements and partly legislation. However, this provision has been used by social partners in the framework of the established coordinated collective bargaining system, without disruptive impacts, so far.

Industrial relations context

The Italian industrial relations framework has undergone numerous changes in recent years, trying to move towards an increasingly important role for decentralised bargaining and a closer link between wages and productivity. These developments, supported and incentivised by various governments, have often torn unions apart, with the Italian General Confederation of Work (CGIL) pointing to the risk of eroding the collectively agreed rules.

The whole industrial relations system appears to be in search of a new structure – more focused on strengthening decentralised-level agreements – that better suits company/territorial issues. At the moment, national-level agreements remain the main source of regulation. Recently, new union-employer joint bodies (enti bilaterali) have been created with the aim of better supporting both workers and employers when production levels decrease and working activity must be suspended or reduced (totally in some cases). Such joint bodies, too, try to support critical situations by enhancing workers’ skills and long-term training. In 2014, the General Confederation of Italian Industry (Confindustria) and the three most representative national union confederations signed a new cross-sectoral agreement (the 2014 Single Text on Representation – Testo Unico sulla Rappresentanza, PDF (TU 2014), which governs social partners’ representativeness, collective bargaining procedures, and the effectiveness of national/decentralised collective agreements. However, TU 2014 has been difficult to implement, for a number of administrative difficulties linked to the collection and certification of data on union membership. On 4 July 2017, the signatories to the agreement had signed a new procedural agreement to entrust to the National social security institute (Inps) the calculation of the representativeness indicators. They also defined a new procedure for the collection of data in 2018. Despite this developments, in mid-2021, there is no information about the progress of the procedure.

In 2018, the major employer confederation Confindustria and the confederal unions Cgil, Cisl and Uil reached a cross-industry agreement on the bargaining system (9 March 2019, The Factory pact – Patto della Fabbrica). The agreement is meant to accompany the transformation and digitalization of manufacturing and services, with an emphasis on effectiveness and participation. The agreement introduces a set of guidelines on the content and institutions of industrial relations and provides some indications on some issues of mutual interest on which future deals shall be negotiated. In particular, it covers the certification of representativeness and it underlines the necessity to extend it to employer associations; it confirms the two-tier structure of the bargaining system, with the sectoral as the main pillar, and the company or territorial as the second level, according to the industry practices, and it identifies a number of issues which shall be covered by future negotiations, such as contractual welfare, training and skill development, health and safety as a privileged area for the development of participatory industrial relations; active labour market policies to ensure a more inclusive and dynamic labour market; participatory practices, especially through innovative work organisational patterns which shall be promoted by second-level agreements. One implementing agreement was reached in December 2018 on health and safety issues.

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has made collective bargaining more difficult, especially because of its economic impact and the uncertainty it produced about recovery. However, negotiations for sectoral renewals continued and agreements were reached. In some cases, with a view to consider the impact of the pandemic, wage increases over the duration of the agreement were scheduled to take into consideration the expected time of recovery.

The social partners signed a key protocol on health and safety at the workplace to ensure the resumption of production in March 2020, which was later amended in April 2020. The protocol established the reference framework for workplace agreements and monitoring. The policy responses were designed by the government, which held constant consultations with the social partners. The points raised by the social partners were taken into consideration, especially when revising and amending policies. However, there was no social concertation of policy initiatives.

Actors and institutions

Actors and institutions

Trade unions, employers’ organisations and public institutions play a key role in the governance of the employment relationship, working conditions and industrial relations structures. They are interlocking parts in a multilevel system of governance that includes the European, national, sectoral, regional (provincial or local) and company levels. This section looks into the main actors and institutions and their role in Italy.

Public authorities involved in regulating working life

Public authorities are not so much involved in social dialogue at national level, but the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the Ministry of Economic development and local authorities are often required to facilitate social dialogue at company level in case of company crisis (that is, collective agreements signed in the case of collective dismissals or related to workers’ income support measures). In some rare and particular cases (that is, leading businesses or partly state-owned companies), the government itself tries to foster, mediate, and support social dialogue.

Another important actor is the National Agency for Active Labour Market Policies (ANPAL). ANPAL is supposed to perform a range of tasks: coordination of the network of services for labour policies; monitoring and evaluation; definition of service standards for employment services; definition of profiling methodologies; and management of the network of vocational education and training (VET) providers and of the organisations that will be involved in implementing ALMPs. Moreover, ANPAL coordinates programmes, also funded through EU resources, aimed at promoting employability.


Criteria to define social partners’ representativeness have been modified several times over the years. The first and only provision, until 1970, was contained in Article 39 of the Italian Constitution, which sets forth a single criterion based on the number of associates. Pursuant to the 1970 Workers’ Statute, trade unions which participate in the negotiations of the collective agreements applied in the workplace can set up Trade union workplace representation structures ( Rappresentanze sindacali aziendali, RSA), which consist of union delegates in companies with more than 15 employees, in the industry or service sectors.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed on 3 July 1993 ( Protocollo d’Intesa, PI 1993, in Italian, 95 KB DOC), which was entered into by social partners and the government, set out that RSU can be set up by workers by means of elections and in lieu of RSA.

On 14 January 2014, Confindustria, CGIL, CISL, and UIL signed a new cross-sectoral agreement (TU 2014) whereby new rules on representativeness were established. In particular, according to TU 2014, in order to participate in national collective bargaining, trade unions must reach a representativeness threshold of 5% measured as the average of the percentage of union members and of the votes obtained by the same unions in RSU elections. NCBAs are binding if signed by trade unions reaching a representativeness level of 50% +1 and if approved by the majority of workers through a referendum.

Moreover, TU 2014 states that firm-level agreements are binding if signed by the majority of RSU members or by the RSA receiving the majority of proxies from employees.

More information on representativeness of the main social partner organisations can be found in Eurofound’s representativeness study of the cross-industry social partners or in Eurofound’s sectoral representativeness studies.

Trade unions

About trade union representation

Employees enjoy the constitutionally enshrined right to organise unions and to strike. Labour unions are usually set up on an industry or trade-wide basis, with the various local unions forming a national body. NCBAs are implemented by employers’ associations and unions and are legally binding only upon employers and employees either belonging to the organisations that have signed them, or that have chosen to adopt them. As far as minimum wage rates are concerned, jurisprudence over fair wages (art. 36 of the Constitution) promotes the application of collectively agreed pay rates, since they are considered the yardstick to assess the appropriateness of actual wages in individual disputes. However, this is limited to wage levels – and does not include the whole collective agreement – and the effectiveness of such indirect ‘extension mechanism’ is somehow challenged by the plurality of collective agreements covering the same economic activities. Including for this reason, the debate on introducing representativeness criteria has become important in recent years (see above).

If the company is staffed with more than 15 employees, they have the right to organise RSA or RSU. Either type of council can exercise the right to be informed and consulted mainly in the following cases: collective dismissal, business transfer, in case the company intends to install work or personal control devices directly involving employees, or in any other case provided for by the relevant NCBA. Article 39 of the Italian Constitution states that ‘trade unions may be freely established’ without restrictions or limitations. This, jointly with Article 18 of the Italian Constitution (‘Citizens have the right to form associations freely […] for those ends that are not forbidden by criminal law’) confers upon workers wide freedom of union association.

Trade union membership and trade union density








Trade union density in terms of active employees






OECD/AIAS ICTWSS Database 2021

Trade union membership in 1000s






OECD/AIAS ICTWSS Database 2021

Main trade union confederations and federations*

Long name



Involved in collective bargaining

Italian General Confederation of Work (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro)


(active workers)

(retired workers)


Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions (Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori)


(active workers)

(retired workers)


Union of Italian Workers (Unione Italiana del Lavoro)


(active workers)

(retired workers)


Italian Pensioners’ Union (Sindacato Pensionati Italiani)




Italian Federation of Workers in the Trade, Tourism, and Service Sectors (Federazione Italiana Lavoratori Commercio, Turismo e Servizi)




CGIL Public Employment Union (CGIL Funzione Pubblica)




National Pensioners’ Federation (Federazione Nazionale Pensionati)




CISL Italian federation of Services’ Unions (FIST-CISL)




Italian Federation of Trade Unions of Workers in the Tourism, Trade Service, and Related Sectors (Federazione Italiana Sindacati Addetti Servizi Commerciali, Affini e del Turismo)




Italian Union of Retired Workers (Unione Italiana Lavoratori Pensionati)




Italian Union of Agrifood Occupations (Unione Italiana dei Lavori Agroalimentari)




UIL Federation of Local Authorities and Health (UIL Federazione Poteri Locali)




* Please note that data on trade union membership are not official or formally certified, as they are not validated by independent authorities. Data are released directly by trade unions or by their research centres.

** Pensioners’ trade unions often engage in negotiation over local public policies with municipalities.

The major trade union confederations, in terms of members and, therefore, functions and activities, are CGIL, CISL, and UIL.

Employers’ organisations

About employers’ representation

No obligations are incurred when joining an employers’ association except for the obligation to apply the NCBA signed by the employer association. These organisations will sit with other social partners to negotiate or renew the relevant NCBA. In recent years, employers’ associations have complemented their traditional ‘interest representation’ role in the relationship with trade unions with two other functions:

  • the provision of services in support of their members’ business activities and development;
  • in the framework of political economy governance, the promotion of forms of dialogue with political institutions on tax issues, strategic investments, European reforms, etc.

A further factor is the thriving of interorganisational innovations, particularly in the field of SME associations (joint bodies providing their members with welfare and services).

Employers’ organisations – membership and density








Employers’ organisation density in terms of active employees






OECD/AIAS ICTWSS Database 2021

Employers’ organisation density in private sector establishments*






European Company Survey (ECS) 2019

* Percentage of employees working in an establishment which is a member of any employer organisation that is involved in collective bargaining.

Main employers’ organisations

The main employers’ associations are:

  • Confindustria;
  • Italian Banking Association (ABI) – banking sector;
  • National Confederation of Craftsmanship and SMEs (CNA);
  • Confartigianato Imprese;
  • Italian Confederation of Businesses in the Trade, Tourism, and Service Sectors (Confesercenti);
  • Italian General Confederation of Companies, Professional Activities, and Self-employment (Confcommercio);
  • Italian Confederation of SMEs (Confapi);
  • Legacoop, Confcooperative, and AGCI (cooperative sector).

Main employers’ organisations and confederations*

Long name




Involved in collective bargaining

Confartigianato Imprese




Italian General Confederation of Companies, Professional Activities, and Self-employment (Confederazione Generale Italiana delle Imprese, delle Attività Professionali e del Lavoro Autonomo)





National Confederation of Craftsmanship and SMEs (Confederazione Nazionale dell’Artigianato e della Piccola e Media Impresa)





Italian Confederation of Businesses in the Trade, Tourism, and Service Sectors (Confederazione Italiana Esercenti Attività Commerciali, Turistiche e dei Servizi)





Autonomous Confederation of Craft Unions (Confederazione Italiana Esercenti Attività Commerciali, Turistiche e dei Servizi)





General Confederation of Italian Industry (Confederazione Generale dell’Industria Italiana)





Italian Banking Association (Associazione Bancaria Italiana)





Italian Confederation of SMEs (Confederazione Italiana della Piccola e Media Industria Privata)





Confederation of Italian Cooperatives (Confederazione Cooperative Italiane)





National Association of Cooperatives and Benefit Societies (Lega Nazionale delle Cooperative e Mutue)





General Associations of Italian Cooperatives (Associazione Generale Cooperative Italiane)





* Please note that data on employers’ organisation membership are not official or formally certified, as they are not validated by independent authorities. Data are released directly by employers’ organisations or by their research centres.

Tripartite and bipartite bodies and concertation

At institutional level, the National Council for Economics and Labour (Consiglio Nazionale dell’Economia e del Lavoro, CNEL) is a consultative body set up in the Italian Constitution (Art. No. 99), which includes representatives of social partners and civil society.

CNEL is managed by 64 board members, nominated every five years. Specifically, 10 members are appointed directly by the President of the Republic: two being proposed by the President of the Council of Ministries, while the others are nominated by the President of the Republic following a consultation procedure where social partners and non-governmental organisations propose board members within the respective quotas.

CNEL has the right to initiate legislation and it carries out many important functions such as drafting reports, opinions and surveys upon request of Parliament, Government or Regions on draft acts or on relevant issues concerning economic and social policies. Furthermore, CNEL manages, implements, and updates the National Archives of bargaining agreements.

Joint union-employer bodies (enti bilaterali) are set up jointly by employers and trade unions with the aim of providing their members with welfare and services. These institutions have become increasingly important in recent years. There are several types of joint bodies, and they can be established by employers’ associations and trade unions at cross-sectoral or sectoral level. They are managed jointly by social partners, and have an internal organisational structure consisting of an assembly, an executive board, a president, an executive director, and a monitoring committee. These administrative bodies are usually appointed by social partners every three or four years. Joint bodies deal with several issues, such as wages, skills, training, working time, and unemployment scheme benefits. They can be classified into institutional funds and non-institutional funds.

They can be considered as institutional funds inasmuch as the law sets out specific goals for collective bargaining to be pursued through funds, or alternatively specific schemes to be implemented through them; this category includes pension funds, private healthcare funds, unemployment funds, and vocational training funds. Non-institutional funds are those that pursue goals or implement schemes that are self-regulated by collective bargaining.

Main tripartite and bipartite bodies




Issues covered

National Council for Economic Affairs and Labour (CNEL)



Consulting activities to parliament, government and regional administrations, periodic reports, studies and surveys on labour market, collective bargaining, and socio-economic issues; monitoring of NCBAs.


Bipartite (vocational training fund)

National (private companies)


National Cross-industry Paritarian Fund for Continuous Training within Cooperatives (Fon.Coop)

Bipartite (vocational training fund)

National (cooperatives)


National Bilateral Institution for the Craft Sector (EBNA)

Bipartite (non-institutional fund)

Sectoral (craft sector)

Research, coordination, and monitoring of local bilateral bodies in the craft sector that are active in the fields of training, income support, welfare provision, and safety at work.

National Bilateral Institution for the Agricultural Sector (EBAN)

Bipartite (non-institutional fund)

Sectoral (agriculture)

Training, research, welfare provision, and safety at work

National Paritarian Commission for Social Security Funds in the Construction Sector (CNCE)

Bipartite (non-institutional fund)

Sectoral (construction sector)

Administrative support to companies, and coordination and monitoring of activities of local bilateral bodies in the construction sector that are active in the fields of income support and welfare provision.

National Institution for Vocational Education and Training in the Construction Sector (Formedil)

Bipartite (non-institutional fund)

Sectoral (construction sector)


National Bilateral Institution for the Tertiary Sector (EBN.TER)

Bipartite (non-institutional fund)

Sectoral (service sector)

Training, research, welfare provision, and labour market intermediation

Bilateral Institution for the Development of Training Targeted at Managers in the Tertiary, Distribution, and Service Sectors (Quadrifor)

Bipartite (non-institutional fund)

Sectoral (service sector)

Training and research

National Bilateral Institution of the Tourism Sector (EBN)

Bipartite (non-institutional fund)

Sectoral (tourism sector)

Training, research, welfare provision, labour market intermediation, and coordination and monitoring of local bilateral bodies active in the same fields

Bilateral Institution for Temporary Work (Ebitemp)

Bipartite (non-institutional fund)

Sectoral (temporary agency work sector)

Training, research, welfare provision, and safety at work

Solidarity Fund to Support Employability, Employment, and Income of Staff of Credit Unions

Bipartite (solidarity fund)

Sectoral (banking and insurance sector)

Income support and training


Bipartite (vocational training fund)

Occupational (managers)


Training Fund for the Craft Sector (Fondartigianato)

Bipartite (vocational training fund)

Sectoral (craft sector)


National Cross-industry Paritarian Fund for Continuous Training in the Tertiary Sector (FonTer)

Bipartite (vocational training fund)

Sectoral (service sector)


Fund of the Banking and Insurance Sectors (FBA)

Bipartite (vocational training fund)

Sectoral (banking and insurance sector)


National Cross-industry Paritarian Fund for Continuous Training in the Tertiary Sector (For.Te.)

Bipartite (vocational training fund)

Sectoral (service sector)


National Supplementary Pension Fund for Workers in the Metalworking Industry, Machinery Installation Services, and Related Sectors ( COMETA)

Bipartite (pension fund)

Sectoral (metalworking and manufacturing sectors)

Pension benefits

Supplementary Capitalisation-based Pension Fund for Workers in the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industry and Related Sectors (Fonchim)

Bipartite (pension fund)

Sectoral (chemical, pharmaceutical, and other related sectors)

Pension benefits

Supplementary Healthcare Fund for Workers in the Craft Sector ( San.Arti.)

Bipartite (health fund)

Sectoral (craft sector)

Complementary health provisions

Supplementary Healthcare Institution for Employees in the Trade, Tourism, and Service Sectors ( ASTER)

Bipartite (healthcare fund)

Sectoral (trade, tourism, and service sectors)

Supplementary healthcare benefits

Supplementary Healthcare Institution in the Trade, Tourism, Service, and Related Sectors (Fondo Est)

Bipartite (healthcare fund)

Sectoral (trade, tourism, and service sectors)

Supplementary healthcare benefits

Workplace-level employee representation

Two different types of workplace-level representation co-exist in Italy: RSA and RSU. RSA are established at company level at the workers’ initiative within those trade unions that signed the NCBA applied in the company concerned, as provided for by the Workers’ Statute. According to TU 2014, RSU are established by the trade unions that signed the cross-sectoral agreements dated 28 June 2011 (in Italian, 1002 KB PDF) and 31 May 2013 (in Italian, 266 KB PDF), as well as by the trade unions that signed the NCBA applied to the company concerned. RSU members are chosen by workers through an election process. RSA and RSU do not feature any significant differences in terms of activities or powers. Their role is the same: negotiating company-level collective agreements with the employer, as well as participating in information and consultation practices.

Regulation, composition, and competences of the bodies




Competences of the body

Involved in company level collective bargaining?

Thresholds/rules when they need to/can be set up


Article 19 of the Workers’ Statute

Union representatives


Set up at the workers’ initiative


Single text on representation of 10 January 2014 (TU 2014)

Workers’ representatives


Set up at the workers’ initiative

Collective bargaining

Collective bargaining

Bargaining system

In Italy, NCBAs are legally binding only upon employers and employees belonging to the organisations that have signed them, or that choose to adopt them. Italian collective bargaining is basically structured on two different levels; sectoral NCBAs are concluded for the whole Italian territory and applied to all employees of the same sector. At this level, the main items of the employment contract are established, such as minimum wage, working time, job classification, and working conditions. Certain specific aspects of work, such as incentive remuneration schemes, performance bonuses, productivity standards, and special types of indemnities, are regulated at decentralised level (territorial – regional or provincial level – or company level). Legislation introduced incentives to encourage the diffusion of both workplace performance related schemes and company welfare schemes to increase the number of beneficiaries among workers, as well as to extend productivity bonuses.

Wage bargaining coverage

The coverage of NCBAs can be cross-sectoral, sectoral, or related to specific occupations within one or more sectors, depending on the level of negotiations adopted by social partners.

Decentralised second-level bargaining takes mostly place at company/workplace level, in the private manufacturing and service sectors as well as in the public administration. However, in some sectors decentralised agreements are concluded at territorial level. In the construction sector, second-level bargaining takes place at provincial level and the same applies to agriculture and tourism; in the artisanal sector, decentralised agreements are negotiated at regional level.

Collective wage bargaining coverage of employees at different levels


% (year)


All levels

100 (2019)

2021 – OECD/AIAS ICTWSS Database 2021

All levels

97 (2013)

2013 – ECS

All levels

97 (2019)

2019 – ECS

All levels

100 (2010)

2010 – SES

All levels

100 (2014)

2014 – SES

All levels

100 (2018)

2018 – SES

Sources: Eurofound, European Company Survey 2013/2019 (ECS), private sector companies with establishments >10 employees (NACE B–S) – multiple answers possible; Eurostat, Structure of Earnings Survey (SES), companies >10 employees (NACE B-SxO), single answer for each local unit: more than 50% of employees covered by such an agreement – online dataset codes: [EARN_SES10_01], [EARN_SES14_01], [EARN_SES18_01] (Percentage of employees working in local units where more than 50% of the employees are covered under a collective pay agreement against the total number of employees in the scope of the survey); OECD/AIAS ICTWSS Database 2021.

Bargaining levels

In terms of setting pay, the most important level is, without any doubt, the sectoral one. As already stated, NCBAs set the minimum hourly wage and the maximum length of the working day, depending on the sector and the type of activity carried out. Some aspects of the remuneration structure and working time management, such as incentive plans, fringe benefits, and overtime remuneration, are delegated to decentralised-level agreements. To sum up, basic rights and pay levels are established at national level, while decentralised collective agreements aim to adapt the general conditions to a specific context, in accordance with the mandatory provisions established at national level.

Decentralised collective bargaining agreements set the framework for contractual welfare, which consist of:

  • welfare schemes set directly at corporate level;
  • welfare schemes managed through bilateral funds.

Levels of collective bargaining 2019


National level (intersectoral)

Sectoral level

Company level



Working time


Working time


Working time

Principal or dominant level





Important but not dominant level




Existing level


Note: the Italian interconfederal level (livello interconfederale) does not address individual employment relationship but defines the rules governing collective bargaining and some general issues, such as apprentices. It provides the rules on the coordination between the sectoral and the decentralised bargaining levels and it establishes the general reference criteria for wage bargaining, including for the protection of the purchasing power of wages.


According to TU 2014, decentralised collective agreements should concern only the issues delegated by NCBAs. Basic rights and pay levels are established at sectoral level, while decentralised collective agreements aim to adapt the general conditions to a specific context, in accordance with the mandatory provisions set out at sectoral level.

Timing of the bargaining rounds

NCBAs are generally renewed every three years. Decentralised (firm-level/regional) collective agreements have variable durations, but renewals tend to follow the timing of sectoral deals, while avoiding the overlap of negotiations. Agreements concerning productivity standards and productivity bonuses tend to be renewed every year, at least to revise the variable objectives.

On the basis of what is laid down by TU 2014 to avoid situations of excessive prolongation of bargaining rounds, social partners agreed that the proposals for renewal must be submitted six months before the expiry of the NCBA.


A horizontal and vertical coordination mechanism is in place in the Italian bargaining system: national sectoral collective agreements regulate wages in line with the provisions the Inter-confederal Agreement of January 2009. The agreement provides a reference framework for sectoral renewals to consider inflation projections, with the aim to ensure the preservation of the purchasing power (horizontal coordination). Moreover, the agreement envisages the possibility to introduce opening clauses in sectoral agreements, which shall be managed by the national bargaining parties (vertical coordination).

Extension mechanisms

Collective agreements cannot be extended by legislation. Employers can apply a collective agreement, even though they are not a member of the employers’ association that signed it. Employers’ associations and trade unions can join a collective agreement even though they have not negotiated it.

Furthermore, Italy never had legislation setting up a national minimum wage. The only law which regulates the remuneration of employees is included in the in Italian Civil Code, Art. No. 2099 and in the Italian Constitution (Art.36).

NCBAs provide for a minimum wage for employees in the sector they refer to. However, these agreements apply only to enterprises and workers who are members of bargaining social partners. Article 36 of the Italian Constitution states that workers are entitled to remuneration commensurate with their work and in any case such as to ensure them and their families a decent living. The Italian Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione) stated that only wages established in NCBAs signed by the most representative social partners met the requirements outlined in the Constitution. Wage provisions contained in NCBAs, therefore, represent the criterion to assess wages set in individual contracts. Workers can sue their employers in Labour Courts in order to gain the wages established by NCBAs.

Derogation mechanisms

Collective agreements can provide for opening clauses. Opening clauses mean a deviation from NCBA and/or law (TU 2014). Art. 8 of decree law 138/2011 introduced the possibility that local agreements (proximity agreements) introduce derogations to industry-wide bargaining and, in certain cases, even legislation. This opened the possibility of “dis-organised” decentralisation. However, the social partners applied this provision with great caution and within the framework of organised decentralisation, as established by the existing cross-industry agreements.

Employers who do not want to apply collective agreements signed by their employers’ association should step out of the relevant employers’ association. This opting out is exemplified by the Fiat Group, which left the Italian major employers’ organisation Confindustria in 2012 and decided to establish a separate and independent industrial relation system, with a group first-level collective agreement.

Expiry of collective agreements

The Framework Agreement signed on 22 January 2009 – AQ 2009 (PDF) – has adopted general rules with regard to the timing of contractual renewals. The NCBAs will be in effect for three years regarding legal aspects as well as pay. If a collective agreement is not renewed on time, a specific economic bonus is awarded to workers. Sectoral collective agreements can also establish the involvement of cross-sectoral social partners when sectoral social partners do not manage to agree upon the contractual renewal. Collective agreements stop to be effective on the date of termination. The parties can continue to apply them, but they are not obliged to do so, unless the ultra-activity of specific provisions is expressly stated in the deal. In case of clauses of indefinite duration, each of the party to the agreement can recede from the agreement, provided it gives due notice to the other party. The collective agreement will then stop to be effective after the declared termination date. However, the individual employment contracts to which the terminated agreement applied remain unaffected. The newly stipulated employment contracts will not be covered by the terminated agreement.

Peace clauses

Although it is formally possible to call a strike during negotiations, social partners have autonomously regulated this issue, by establishing peace obligation periods and procedures in interconfederal and sectoral agreements, which cover the negotiation phase. Peace obligation clauses have only an obligatory effect, i.e. they cover just the parties of the contract (and not the single workers). Some sectoral agreements also include mechanisms of dispute resolution related to industrial action and disputes.

Industrial action and disputes

Industrial action and disputes

Legal aspects

The right to strike is enshrined in Article 40 of the Italian Constitution.

The law regulates the right to strike only in relation to essential public services, irrespective if they are provided by the public administration or private enterprises. In practice, essential public services are those which ensure constitutionally protected rights (such as education, health, public safety, mobility) or public order and public interests. They include, for instance, local transport, emergency services, hospitals, firefighters, infrastructure workers, final school examinations, and so forth. The general criteria are that a notice period must be respected when a strike is called and that minimum services must be ensured in the event of a strike in these services, in order to balance the exercise of the right to strike and the other protected rights or interests. The minimum services can be established by collective agreements or law. There is a special guarantee commission for the application of the law on the right to strike in public essential services (Commissione di garanzia dell´attuazione della legge sullo sciopero nei servizi pubblici essenziali).

In all other cases, two requirements shall be met for a strike to be considered lawful:

  1. the interruption of the working activity is organised on a collective basis, and is promoted by a trade union; and
  2. the industrial action takes place on a voluntary basis.

No further limitations exist in relation to the right to strike.

It is possible to distinguish between two different types of strike:

  1. a strike for contractual purposes, obviously aimed at obtaining better contractual working conditions;
  2. a strike for political purposes, aimed at persuading public authorities to adopt some specific actions.

Lockout (i.e. the decision made by the employer to prevent workers’ access to the workplace and thus their working activity) is allowed in Italy, but it is considered a breach of the contractual obligations.

Industrial action developments

The publication of general and official data on strikes has been discontinued since 2010.

Dispute resolution mechanisms

Collective dispute resolution mechanisms

Some collective agreements provide for dispute resolution committees, bilaterally managed by social partners. Collective agreements do not set out specific procedures to be followed in order to settle a dispute in front of these committees, which are in charge of ensuring the application of collectively agreed provisions.

Generally, the majority of labour disputes end up in labour courts.

Individual employment relations

Individual employment relations

Individual employment relations are the relationship between the individual worker and their employer. This relationship is shaped by legal regulation and by the outcomes of social partner negotiations over the terms and conditions governing the employment relationship. This section looks into the start and termination of the employment relationship and entitlements and obligations in Italy.

Start and termination of the employment relationship

Requirements regarding an employment contract

According to applicable legislation, the minimum working age is fixed at 16 years, except for apprenticeships for which it is fixed at 15 years. The written form is generally not required with regard to employment contracts (except in some cases, such as apprenticeships), but the employer is obliged to inform the worker in writing of applied working conditions. To be valid, the employment contract has to be agreed upon by both parties. As a consequence, where there is a relevant mistake about personal qualities and skills, the agreement cannot be considered valid.

Dismissal and termination procedures

The provisions of the Italian Civil Code on individual dismissals were substantially modified by special laws (Act no. 604/1966, the Workers’ Statute, Act no. 108/1990, Act No. 92/2012 and by the latest labour market reform – the so-called ‘Jobs Act’).

With Jobs Act, a binary system has been created: on the one hand, the new regulation applies to new hires starting from March 2015. On the other hand, previous regulations continue to be in force for workers already employed on indefinite contracts (employees still covered by law no. 92/2012).

  • Individual dismissal for just cause (giusta causa): under this scenario, the employee is dismissed because of his/her own misconduct, which ‘makes the continuation of the employment relationship impossible’ (Article 2119 of the Italian Civil Code).
  • Individual dismissal for justified reason (giustificato motivo): pursuant to Law No. 604/1966, giustificato motivo is either a serious breach of the contract by the employee or ‘any reason concerning productivity, work organisation, or the operation of the company’ – that is, lack of productivity, continuous uncooperative attitude, or the cancellation of the position. In such cases, the employee is given notice of dismissal or receives the indemnity in lieu of notice.

For employees hired before March 2015, for dismissal without either giusta causa or giustificato motivo found by the Court, two scenarios lie ahead: (i) employers having more than 15 employees within the same Municipality or more than 60 employees on the Italian territory shall reinstate the employee in his/her job; they shall moreover pay back all monthly salaries related to the period from the date of dismissal to the date of reinstatement, in addition to any damages that the employee may actually prove s/he has suffered as a consequence of the unlawful dismissal (that is, as of 2012, ‘unlawful dismissal’ means that such dismissal was based on discrimination and/or unreasonable disciplinary facts; burden of proof and litigation are required in order to activate this regime). The employee is entitled to the payment of an indemnity equal to a maximum of 24 monthly salary payments in the event of dismissal deemed to be wrongful; in other words, if it is not ‘grounded’ on objective or subjective reasons: these occur when the dismissal is based on a failure to satisfactorily perform job duties, disruption of the employer’s company premises, or other legitimate business reasons; (ii) employers staffed with 15 or fewer employees can choose to rehire the employee or pay him/her an indemnity ranging from 2.5 to six months of his/her last salary. The amount of the indemnity depends on the number of employees, the size of the company, the length of the employment period, and the parties’ behaviour.

For employees hired starting March 2015, law 23/2015 reformed this set of rules. In greater detail, it introduced a new protection regime against individual and collective unlawful dismissals (so-called ‘seniority-based protection regime’, contratto a tutele crescenti): starting on 7 March 2015, the new employment relationships were affected by forms of protection increasing with seniority in the case of unlawful dismissals. The new system will concern not only workers (excluding managers) employed under indefinite contracts, but also:

  • employees belonging to companies whose workforce – as a consequence of new hires – exceeds 15 people within the same business unit or municipality (or exceeds 60 people in total);
  • employees on fixed-term contracts converted into indefinite contracts after the entry into force of the new regulations;
  • employees on apprenticeship contracts converted into indefinite contracts after the entry into force of the new regulations.

Different remedies are introduced depending on the reasons for dismissal:

  • seniority-based indemnities for economic dismissals: the employer shall no longer be sanctioned with the reinstatement of the employee in case of groundless dismissals for economic reasons. The sanction consists only of compensation for damages (i.e. two months’ salary per year of service, with a minimum of six and a maximum of 36 months – both limits have been increased by the 2018 ‘dignity decree’);
  • seniority-based indemnities will also apply to unlawful dismissals based on justified subjective reasons and just cause. Reinstatement is to be implemented, together with an indemnity equal to the salary due from the date of dismissal until the reinstatement (up to 12 months), plus social security charges only if the facts causing the dismissal are proven non-existent;
  • the right to reinstatement for discriminatory dismissals and other null and void dismissals: reinstatement – together with an indemnity equal to the salary due from the date of dismissal until the reinstatement (with a minimum of five months) – is to be implemented only in serious cases of unlawful dismissals, including dismissals that are solely verbal, dismissals based on discrimination or retaliation, and dismissals during maternity leave. Employees could alternatively choose an indemnity equal to 15 months’ salary in lieu of reinstatement;
  • dismissals affected by formal irregularities: a seniority-based indemnity is due, consisting of one month’s salary per year of service, with a minimum of two and a maximum of 12 months.

At the end of September 2018, the Italian Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional the automatic determination of severance pay introduced by law 23/2015. According to the Consitutional Court, this automatic mechanism is unconstitutional because it links severance pay exclusively to seniority and thereby violates the principles of reasonability and equality and impedes the rights and protection of workers, as established by Articles 4 and 35 of the Italian Constitution.

The provisions contained in those laws concern in most aspects only workers (operai) and employees (impiegati), and do not affect executives (dirigenti). These provisions substantially limit certain rights of the employer.

The dismissal of executives is governed by Articles 2118 and 2119 of the Italian Civil Code, and by the relevant NCBA, if applicable. The dismissal of executives must be communicated in writing. Such dismissal is lawful if it based on a just cause (see above) or if the dismissal is not wrongful, and thus it is fair and reasonable (that is, it is ‘grounded’ on objective or subjective reasons). In general, the dismissal of an executive is considered lawful if the reason for employment termination relates to the executive’s conduct damaging the trust and confidence relationship with the employer, or if it is attributable to the fact that the executive’s activity is no longer required by the employer as a result of the reorganisation of the workforce or owing to company crisis. If the dismissal is based on a just cause, no notice period applies. In any other case of dismissal, the notice period provided for by the applicable NCBA, or the indemnity in lieu of notice applies. If the dismissal of the executive is not based on a just cause or is not grounded on objective or subjective reasons (as mentioned above) and the employment relationship is regulated by an NCBA, the executive is entitled to receive a special indemnity (so-called ‘supplementary indemnity’, indennità supplementare) set forth in the applicable NCBA (such an indemnity varies based on the executive’s length of service and age). On 30 December 2014, the NCBA applicable to executives in the industry sector was renewed, resulting in a reduction of the notice periods (from six to 12 months depending on the length of service) and of the minimum supplementary indemnity (two monthly salary payments), as well as in an increase in the minimum length of service needed to be entitled to the maximum level of supplementary indemnity (at least 15 years, to be entitled to a 18–24 monthly wage range).

Dismissal of employees/executives is prohibited in the following cases:

  • wedding of a female employee – from the date of publication of the wedding until one year after the ceremony (Article 1 of Act no. 7/1963) except for the cases specified by law;
  • pregnancy of the employee – during the period of pregnancy and for the first year after delivery (Article 2 of Act no. 1204/1971);
  • accidents at work or illness of the employee – for the term (so-called ‘protected period’) as specified by law or in the applicable NCBA (Article 2110 of the Italian Civil Code), unless a just cause for termination occurs;
  • works council executives – for the period of assignment and until one year from the end thereof (Articles 18 and 22 of the Workers’ Statute);
  • dismissal for discriminatory reasons – such as political opinions, religion, race, language, sex, and trade union membership.

See also further information on:

Entitlements and obligations

Parental, maternity, and paternity leave

Pursuant to Act no. 151/2001, and subsequent amendments, an employee must be exempted from service during the last two months of pregnancy and the first three months after childbirth or, at the choice of the employee, during the last month of pregnancy and the first four months after childbirth. During such a compulsory absence, 80% of her salary is paid by INPS and 20% by the employer. The employee may choose to stay at home for an additional six months; however, during this period, she is considered as an employee only for seniority purposes and is entitled to maintain her employment position; however, she receives only part of her salary (30%) from INPS.

From the beginning of the pregnancy until the child is one year old, the employee cannot be dismissed unless: a just cause for dismissal occurs; the company’s activity is terminated; or the employment relationship comes to an end owing to the expiry of the agreed term.

The abovementioned provisions can be extended to the father of the child if: the mother is dead or is affected by severe disabilities; the mother has abandoned the child; or the child has been entrusted exclusively to the father’s care.

Law No. 92/2012 established a mandatory paternity leave of one working day to take care of the child and/or assist the mother. In addition, the decree on work–life balance (Legislative Decree 15 June 2015, No. 80) reforms the existing work–life reconciliation measures. The law provides for a time extension of parental leave, which could be used until the child’s twelfth year (instead of his/her eighth year, as set out in the previous legislation). The partially paid (30%) parental leave is extended from the child’s third year of age to his/her sixth year, while the unpaid one from the sixth to the twelfth year. Furthermore, this provision applies to parents with an individual income lower than 2.5 times the monthly minimum pension scheme.

A similar extension is introduced for cases of adoption or foster care, for which the possibility of taking parental leave shall start from the child’s entrance into the family. It will also be possible to opt for a part-time working arrangement instead of parental leave in case the staff structure provides for part-time positions. Moreover, paternity leave is extended to all categories of workers – not only to employees as it is now. In general terms, several changes have been made to parental and maternity leave. In conclusion, the 2017 Budget Law sets out additional provisions. The most relevant are:

  • Support Fund for Higher Birth-Rates ( Fondo di sostegno alla natalità): this fund is aimed at promoting access to credit for families with one or more children born or adopted on or after 1 January 2017;
  • childbirth bonus (bonus bebè): this €800 lump sum is granted upon the birth or adoption of a child, and is paid by INPS in a single instalment following the ad hoc application to be filed by the future mother;
  • Support Fund for Family Allowances ( Fondo per l’incremento degli assegni al nucleo familiare): this fund is targeted at Italian citizens working in another EU Member State who have four or more children;
  • crèche and baby-sitting vouchers: the crèche voucher is aimed at supporting the enrolment in public or private crèches, or alternatively at bolstering the introduction of support tools at home in the case of children below three years of age, affected by severe chronic diseases. The new provisions furthermore enable both employed and self-employed mothers to apply for a crèche or baby-sitting voucher in lieu of parental leave (wholly or partially).

Statutory leave arrangements

Maternity leave

Maximum duration

Two months before and three months after delivery (or one month before and four months after delivery). In some specific cases, additional months are envisaged.


100% of basic remuneration (80% to be paid by INPS, and 20% by the employer)

Who pays?

INPS (80% of basic remuneration) and employers (20%)

Legal basis

Act. no. 151/2001

Parental leave

Maximum duration

11 months (to be shared between the mother and the father)


30% of basic remuneration

Who pays?


Legal basis

Act no. 151/2001

Paternity leave

Maximum duration

Two days in 2017, and up to four days in 2018 (it can be raised up to five days if the father replaces the mother in relation to the mandatory leave period).


100% anticipated by the employer and subsequently reimbursed by INPS, as provided for by law in relation to maternity leave in general

Who pays?


Legal basis

Act no. 92/2012, Act no. 80/2015 (Jobs Act – work–life balance, ‘JABalance’), and 2017 Budget Law

Sick leave

In case of illness, the employee has the right to maintain his/her job during the sick leave (so-called ‘protected period’) as set out in the relevant NCBA. During this period, the employer cannot dismiss the worker.

If sick, the employee must inform the employer as soon as possible, before the beginning of his/her working day. Consequently, a doctor must certify the state of illness, submitting the certificate to INPS through an online procedure. INPS makes the certificate available for the employer.

The employee receives a special indemnity, calculated as 50% of basic remuneration from the fourth day to the 20thday of illness. From the 21st day on, the indemnity amounts to 66.66% of basic remuneration. Collective agreements usually establish the integration of the mandatory sick indemnity by employers and ensure the full coverage of pay during sick periods, with some thresholds in terms of annual days of sick leave.

Retirement age

Act no. 201/2011 radically reformed the Italian social security system, allowing for a yearly increase in the retirement age in order to adapt it to the population’s increasing life expectancy.

In the framework of measures addressing retirement rules and pension benefits, and following a long phase of consultations with trade unions, the 2017 Budget Law introduced three early retirement schemes targeting people aged at least 63 who are no more than three years and seven months away from statutory retirement age: the social advance pension payment ( anticipo pensionistico sociale, special APe), the advance pension payment (anticipo pensionistico, general APe), and the temporary supplementary advance annuity ( rendita integrativa temporanea anticipata, RITA). In greater detail, specific categories of disadvantaged people will have the possibility to access the special APE, which is funded by the State. The general APe can be accessed by other workers upon taking out a 20-year loan intended to pay back the anticipated sum, as well as a life insurance policy subsidised by the State. Finally, workers enrolled in supplementary private pension schemes will have the opportunity to apply for RITA, an advance pension payment subject to a 15% maximum taxation rate.

The act also eliminated caps on the value of supplementary pension contributions that can be exempted from income taxation, a measure that is likely to promote the establishment of contractual pension funds in the framework of collective bargaining agreements.

The new coalition government between the 5 Star Movement and the League which took office in mid-2018 introduced in early 2019 an anticipated retirement scheme, which will last for three years, for people whose age and years of contribution add to 100 (the so called ‘quota 100’).

In 2021, consultations over the revision of the ‘quota 100’ rules have been started by the government.



Pay: For workers, the reward for work and main source of income; for employers, a cost of production and focus of bargaining and legislation. This section looks into minimum wage setting in Italy and guides the reader to further material on collective wage bargaining.

Average gross earnings indicators for Full-Time Equivalent employees report a slight growth since 2015, of an overall 3.3% with a positive peak in the extractive industry (B) and in arts and entertainment and a very low increases reported in real estate activities (L), the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply (D), water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities (E), and information and communication (J). Available data are not adjusted for inflation.

The pay indexes are based on survey data and on INPS administrative declarations released by enterprises and exclude workers under short-time working schemes and managers.

Average quarterly pay indexes per FTE employee – quarterly average (First quarter), 2015=100)












Mining and quarrying










Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply





Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities










Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles





Transportation and storage





Accommodation and food service activities





Information and communication





Financial and insurance activities





Real estate activities





Professional, scientific and technical activities





Administrative and support service activities










Human health and social work activities





Arts, entertainment and recreation





Other service activities




* A, O, T and U are not covered by the Statistics. Data covers only employees of enterprises in the Industry and Services sectors. ** Indexes use 2015 pay as a basis. Data are seasonally adjusted and refers to the first quarter of the year.

Source: Istat, Rilevazione OROS (see Eurostat RAMON for description and classification)

Minimum wages

The Italian legislation does not provide for a minimum wage. In 2018-2019, a debate on the possible introduction of a legal minimum and its relationship with collectively-agreed minimum wage rates started, following a wage bill proposal at the Senate. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic slowed the discussion, which remains in the political agenda. The social partners have traditionally been opposed to state intervention in matters concerning directly representation and collective bargaining. However, the fragmentation of representation on both sides of industry and the increasing number of collective agreements signed by parties of uncertain representativeness are influencing the current debate. In this perspective, the introduction of legal rules to increase the effectiveness of representation and collective bargaining is considered a potential solution, including by social partners, who are nevertheless eager to confirm the key role of collective bargaining.

The minimum wage is set by each NCBA, which lays down minimum standards for the whole category it applies to throughout the country. In the absence of an agreement or mutual consent between the employer and the employee, wages and salaries may be determined by courts according to precedents and practices found in similar sectors or NCBAs. Local company-level agreements may step up these standards through provisions on issues such as rates, performance bonuses, and bonuses on productivity. Wages and salaries of all workers are usually paid on a monthly basis. Employees may receive various additional wage elements – for instance, additional monthly salaries (13th and 14th monthly payments).

For more information regarding the level and development of minimum wages, please see:

Collectively agreed pay outcomes

For more detailed information on the most recent outcomes in terms of collectively agreed pay, please see:

Working time

Working time

Working time: ‘Any period during which the worker is working, at the employer’s disposal and carrying out his activities or duties, in accordance with national laws and/or practice’ (Directive 2003/88/EC). This section briefly summarises regulation and issues regarding working time, overtime, part-time work as well as working time flexibility in Italy.

Working time regulation

The provisions on working hours and overtime are included in Act no. 66/2003, as amended by Act no. 213/2004. In principle, employees are supposed to work 40 hours per week, unless more favourable provisions contained in NCBAs reduce said duration; nevertheless, the ordinary weekly working time shall be referred to the average duration of the working activity within a period no longer than one year. In any case, the duration of the weekly working time cannot exceed 48 hours per week, including any overtime hours. Such maximum duration must be calculated within a reference period not exceeding four months, unless more favourable provisions contained in NCBAs reduce said duration or increase the reference period up to six months. The above-mentioned provisions do not apply to executives. Pursuant to some NCBAs, the provisions on overtime do not apply to managers .

For more detailed information on working time (including annual leave, statutory and collectively agreed working time), please consult:

Overtime regulation

Unless differently provided for by NCBAs, overtime work should be used sparingly and when exceptional technical or production-related circumstances occur. In any case, overtime shall be agreed between the employer and the employee and cannot exceed 250 hours a year. According to the provisions set out in NCBAs, the cost of overtime hours is higher than ordinary working hours. Decentralised-level agreements can set out different provisions to regulate overtime in order to better manage working time within the firm.

Part-time work

‘Part-time work’ indicates an employment contract in which working hours are fewer than the standard 40 hours per week.

The reduction in working hours can be implemented in three different ways:

  1. horizontal part-time: the employee works every day for a shorter number of hours;
  2. vertical part-time: the employee works full day, but only on specific days;
  3. mixed part-time (part-time misto): a combination of the two types described above.

Part-time work is generally governed by NCBAs, with some specific aspects regulated at firm level.

Another change introduced by the Jobs Act is the possibility to make the part-time contract more flexible, by simplifying the regulation on additional working hours. In greater detail, employers would be entitled to ask employees working under a horizontal part-time arrangement (a contract reducing daily working hours) to perform, within the limits established by NCBAs, the working hours exceeding the weekly hours settled by the individual contract, upon payment of additional remuneration. In the absence of an NCBA, overtime work cannot overcome 15% of the weekly working hours agreed upon in the individual contract. Unless differently established by NCBAs, the increase cannot be greater than 25% of the yearly working hours agreed in the individual contract.

As shown in the table below, the shares of part-time workers are aligned with the EU average, with a slightly greater difference between women and men.

Persons employed part-time in Italy and EU27 (% of total employment)








Total (EU27)







Total (Italy)







Women (EU27)







Women (Italy)







Men (EU27)







Men (Italy)







Source: Eurostat Labour Force Survey [lfsi_pt_a] – Persons employed part-time (20 to 64 years of age) – total and by sex.

Involuntary part-time

Involuntary part-time workers can be defined as those working part time because they could not find a full-time job.

Persons employed in involuntary part-time in Italy and EU27 (% of total part-time employment)








Total (EU27)







Total (Italy)







Women (EU27)







Women (Italy)







Men (EU27)







Men (Italy)







Source: Eurostat Labour Force Survey [lfsa_eppgai]- involuntary part-time employment as a percentage of the total part-time employment, by sex and age (20 to 64 years of age)

Night work

Pursuant to Article 1 of Act no. 66/2003, as subsequently amended, a night worker is one who, in the normal course, works at least three hours of his/her daily working time during night time (who is likely, during night time, to work at least such a proportion of his/her annual working time as may be specified in a collective agreement or a workforce agreement. Act no. 66/2003 (Art. 1, paragraph 2) defines night time as any period of not less than seven consecutive hours including the time span between midnight and 05:00.

Shift work

Article 1 of Act no. 66/2003, as subsequently amended, defines shift work as any method of work organisation, including in shifts, according to which workers are subsequently assigned to the same working stations according to a certain pattern, including on a rotational basis, which may be continuous or discontinuous, and which entails the need for workers to perform a job at different times over a given period of days or weeks.

Weekend work

There is no legal regulation on weekend work.

Rest and breaks

In general, rest periods and breaks shall be enjoyed consecutively. The parties may agree upon longer rest periods than those established by law (11 hours).

Working time flexibility

Working time flexibility is not regulated by law. The law only sets out the maximum amount of working hours, leaving all other aspects to social dialogue and contractual freedom within specific limits for certain categories or circumstances (such as night work). Some types of time flexibility strategies are beginning to be provided for or introduced in collective agreements, but the general trend is to fix working hours within a specific time span, generally from 09.00 to 18.00.

Health and well-being

Health and well-being

Maintaining health and well-being should be high priority for workers and employers alike. Health is an asset closely associated with a person’s quality of life and longevity, as well as their ability to work. A healthy economy depends on a healthy workforce; organisations lose productivity through ill-health of their workers. This section looks into psychosocial risks and health and safety in Italy.

Health and safety at work

The overall number of accidents at work has been decreasing in recent years, both in absolute terms and compared to employment rates. Yet, the number of fatal accidents was on the rise again in 2015, reversing the previous decreasing trend.

Accidents at work and on the way to work, selected sectors







Manufacturing and services












Public administration












Source: National Institute for the Insurance against Accidents at Work (Istituto nazionale per l’assicurazione contro gli infortuni sul lavoro, INAIL), IL_DN_TT_AG_GES_TEM.

Accidents at work, with four days’ absence or more – working days lost







All accidents






Percent change on previous year






Per 1,000 employees






Source: Eurostat, [hsw_mi01] and [lfsa_eegaed]

Fatal accidents at work and on the way to work







Manufacturing and services












Public administration












Source: Inail. Authors’ calculation based on [IL_DN_TT_AG_GES_TEM]

Psychosocial risks

Article 2087 of the Italian Civil Code sets forth, as a rule, that the employer shall implement all necessary measures to guarantee each employee’s health and safety while s/he is in the workplace, taking into account peculiarities, experience, and skills involved.

Act no. 81/2008 sets forth most of the specific provisions on health and safety at work. The main obligations upon the employer are as follows:

  • to prepare a document containing an assessment of health and safety risks related to the activity of the company, a list of prevention and protection measures as well as of the special individual protection devices, and the measures aimed at improving health and safety at work;
  • to arrange the Prevention and Protection Service ( Servizio di Prevenzione e Protezione) and to appoint the Head of the Prevention and Protection Service ( Responsabile del Servizio di Prevenzione e Protezione). The Prevention and Protection Service can be handled either internally or by an external contractor. If the Prevention and Protection Service is arranged within the company, the employer may either take on its functions, or appoint a person with suitable skills and expertise. If the company carries out an industrial activity with more than 30 employees or other activities with more than 200 employees, the employer is obliged to appoint a person and cannot perform the functions of the Prevention and Protection Service directly. The arrangement of the service within the company is compulsory when its activity is deemed to be particularly ‘dangerous’ (companies exposed to the risk of serious accidents, companies with more than 200 employees, thermoelectric power stations, hospitals, etc.);
  • to notify the National Labour Inspection Office ( Ispettorato nazionale del lavoro) and the Local Health Authority (Azienda Sanitaria Locale, ASL) of the name of the person appointed as Head of the Prevention and Protection Service;
  • to appoint a physician (medico competente), who – among other things – shall cooperate with the employer and the Head of the Prevention and Protection Service to arrange and implement occupational health and safety measures, carry out the clinical and medical tests for employees, and provide his/her own opinion on employees’ suitability for their specific duties;
  • to take the necessary measures for employees’ health and safety;
  • to inform and train employees on occupational health and safety risks;
  • to adapt workplaces in compliance with applicable legislation;
  • to adapt workplaces and working time if employees use visual display units.

For more detailed information on health and well-being at work, please consult:

Skills, learning and employability

Skills, learning and employability

Skills are the passport to employment; the better skilled an individual, the more employable they are. Good skills also tend to secure better-quality jobs and better earnings. This section briefly summarises the Italian system for ensuring skills and employability and looks into the extent of training.

National system for ensuring skills and employability

A specific type of employment contract has been created to serve as a ‘bridge between education and the world of work’. This is the apprenticeship, in which the employer is obliged not only to pay remuneration to employees, but also to train them. In return, the employer can benefit from some tax relief and reductions in social security contributions. The apprenticeship is deemed to be an indefinite contract, but there is a specific day (when the training can be considered concluded) when the employer can dismiss the employee. If dismissal does not occur, the apprenticeship automatically turns into a proper indefinite contract.

Currently, there are three kinds of apprenticeship:

  1. apprenticeship aimed at helping students obtain a vocational qualification, targeting people between 15 and 25 years old;
  2. profession-oriented apprenticeship for people between 18 and 29 years old;
  3. apprenticeship enabling students to conduct research or obtain a higher educational qualification; this type of apprenticeship is targeted at people between 18 and 29 years old who hold a second-level diploma.

Furthermore, in March 2015 the government presented a new reform aimed at introducing amendments to the educational and vocational system in order to achieve better integration between education and training, on the one hand, and the labour market, on the other.

However, it also confers increased powers on school principals over hiring and promotions, and envisages tax breaks for private schools, and the hiring of 100,000 permanent teachers.


The main public institutions that have to be taken into consideration when talking about training are the Regions. They enter into play in relation to both apprenticeship and internship regulations. As to apprenticeships, the Regions have to define and structure an important part of the apprentice’s training (basic and cross-cutting training), whose cost is shouldered by them. As to internships, the Regions must provide for some of the regulating principles, such as the minimum amount of the indemnity to be provided to the intern.

Vocational training joint institutions (fondi interprofessionali), too, must be taken into consideration. These are special quasi-public bodies promoted by social partners through confederation agreements signed by employers’ and employees’ most representative unions. Pursuant to Act no. 388/2000, companies must finance these funds with 0.30% of the contributions paid to INPS.

Vocational training paritarian institutions fund company training activities – at both sectoral and territorial levels – that companies can decide to implement for their employees.

Work organisation

Work organisation

Work organisation underpins economic and business development and has important consequences for productivity, innovation and working conditions. Eurofound research finds that some types of work organisation are associated with a better quality of work and employment. Therefore, developing or introducing different forms of work organisation are of particular interest because of the expected effect on productivity, efficiency and competitiveness of companies, as well as on workers’ working conditions. Ongoing research by Eurofound, based on EurWORK, the European Working Conditions Survey and the European Company Survey, monitors developments in work organisation.

For Italy, the European Company Survey 2019 shows that 34% of companies appear as highly digitalised. Over 50% of companies rely on non-monetary incentives to promote commitment, such as mission and vision values, stimulating and interesting work, and opportunities for training and development. Overall, 17% of Italian workplaces can be defined as “high investment and high involvement”, slightly below the EU-wide 20%.

For more detailed information on work organisation, please consult:

Equality and non-discrimination at work

Equality and non-discrimination at work

First of all, Article 3 of the Italian Constitution states that ‘all citizens have equal social dignity and are equal before the law, without distinction of sex, race, language, religion, political opinion, personal and social conditions’. Therefore, equality is one of the fundamental principles of the whole Italian legal system.

Secondly, dismissals for discriminatory reasons (political, sexual, religious, and others) are considered null and void, and the judge can order the employer to reintegrate the employee into his/her job.

There are special provisions to facilitate the access of people with disabilities to the labour market. The Italian legislation promotes the employment of people with disabilities through compulsory hiring ( assunzioni obbligatorie) (Act no. 68/1999). The category of people with disabilities includes: people with physical and mental impairments; those whose disabilities are medically certified as comprising more than 33% of their capacity; persons who are blind; and those who are deaf-mute.

Starting in January 2017, the number of people with disabilities who must be employed relates to the number of employees in the company, namely: if the employer is staffed with more than 50 employees, 7% of them must be people with disabilities; if the employer has from 36 to 50 employees, two of them must be people with disabilities; if the employer has from 15 to 35 employees, there must be one person with disabilities.

The same obligations shall apply to political parties, trade unions, and NGOs.

The applicable legislation envisages new incentives for hiring people with disabilities: as to subjects with mental or intellectual impairments, incentives amount to 70% of their monthly salary for a maximum of 60 months.

The new set of rules moreover introduced a specific database aimed at monitoring the workflow of people with disabilities. Finally, penalties for employers that do not abide by these rules have been increased.

Equal pay and the gender pay gap

No specific provisions exist as to the implementation of an equal pay structure; the whole issue is regulated by the provision against discrimination in whatever form it may occur.

National-level collective agreements establish a minimum salary for each sector, which is mandatory for all the employers of that sector.

A maximum level of remuneration does not exist: therefore, an employer could theoretically pay a different amount to each employee. If there exists a gender-based difference in the remuneration within the same company, the issue has to be tackled through social dialogue or before a court provided the non-discrimination provisions can be applied to the specific situation.

Quota regulations

No legal obligations for specific quotas are in place in Italy, besides those for people with disabilities (see the third paragraph under the ‘Equality and non-discrimination at work’ heading).



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