The employment contract

The law in Italy says that, in order to work legally, the person must have an employment contract. The employment contract (contratto di lavoro) is an official document where important information about the employment is written. The information in the contract is about duration, the type of work you have to do, salary and other important information. There are many types of employment contracts. Read what they are and their characteristics.

The law in Italy decides that, in order to work legally, every person must have an employment contract.
The employment contract (contratto di lavoro) is a document with important information about your job, your rights and the rules that must be followed. This information must comply with certain rules decided according to the laws. An employment contract that does not comply with Italian law is not a legal employment contract.

Having an employment contract is important not only to work legally, but for many reasons like for example to:

  • Renew the residence permit (permesso di soggiorno);
  • Rent a house;
  • Request unemployment (disoccupazione) from INPS. Unemployment is an economic support given by the state for a certain period of time to people who have been fired and are looking for work;
  • Have paid vacation days during the year that you can use. Or leave (permessi) in the event of illness, maternity, accident, etc;
  • Receive settlement. Liquidazione or Trattamento di Fine Rapporto (TFR) is a small amount of your salary that accumulates while you are employed and it is then given to you when the employment ends.

What information must be written in an employment contract?

The employment contract must include this information:

  • Information on the place where you will work: the name of the company or the name and surname of the employer, the tax code (codice fiscale), and / or VAT number (partita Iva), the registered office of the company;
  • The worker information: name, surname, date of birth, address, tax code;
  • The duration of the employment contract: fixed term a tempo determinato (for example a 6 month or one year job) or permanent indeterminato (i.e a job without an expiration date);
  • The start date and end date of the work (for example 8 March 2021 – 19 November 2021);
  • Working hours. The working hours are not the same for all jobs. Hours change depending on the type of job, sector and offer of your employer;
  • The place of work, the address where you will work;
  • The category (such as employee, worker, etc.) and the level of employment of the worker (which depends on the type of activity carried out);
  • The salary, how much you will be paid each month for your work;
  • The probation period (periodo di prova). The probation period means the time at the beginning of your contract (for example 3 or 6 months) in which you are learning the new job. During this period, the employer or employee may decide to terminate the employment relationship without notice.

What rules must an employment contract comply with?

In Italy, employment contracts must comply with certain rules. These rules are written in the Contratto Collettivo Nazionale del Lavoro (CCNL).
This agreement is like a contract template. This template was written by employee representatives (such as trade unions) and employer representatives. Depending on the type of work and sector, there are various types of agreements (eg agriculture, tourism, industry).

Each employment contract must comply with the rules established by the agreements for that sector and the type of work. This means that working conditions cannot be lower than those established by law, but only higher. For example, if in the agreement for a type of work a salary of 500 euros must be provided, the employer cannot decide on a lower salary in an individual contract, like 400 euros for example. He can however decide for a higher salary.

The employment contract must be signed by the employee and the employer.

After the contract has been signed, it must be officially registered with the Employment Center (Centro per l’Impiego).
The registration of the employment contract must be done by the employer.
For non-EU foreign workers (i.e. those coming from countries outside the European Union), registration is done using the UNILAV form.
For domestic workers (caregivers, home helpers, domestic assistants), on the other hand, the registration is made to INPS using the COLD ASS model.
Remember that your employer must give you a copy of this communication along with the contract. This communication is important when you apply for the renewal of your residence permit.

Attention: The employment contract is a very important subject and each situation is different from another. On this page, you will find some useful information but if you need specific help you must go to a lawyer or a union (sindacato) or CAF such as CGIL, CISL or UIL.

To find the office of the sindacato closest to you, you can do this search on Google: CGIL + name of your city (for example: CGIL Roma).

What is the difference between subordinate (lavoro subordinato) and self-employed work (autonomo)?

When it comes to work in Italy, very difficult words are often used. It is important to know and understand the meaning of these words. This way you will be able to better understand what kind of work is discussed.

Employee (lavoro subordinato): The employee is dependent on the decisions of an employer. He has to go to work every day and has time schedules to respect. In exchange for his work, he receives a fixed salary, that is always the same amount every month. An example of subordinate work is that of the worker, or operaio (warehouse worker, agricultural worker, etc.).

Self-employment (lavoro autonomo): The employee is independent, meaning he has not been hired by an employer. A self-employed person can be a craftsman, a freelancer, etc. Usually a self-employed person does not have a fixed salary, but his earnings depend on how much he works.

It is important to know that if you are self-employed you must have a VAT number (partita Iva) to be in compliance with the law and pay taxes. The partita IVA is a numerical code used by the Government to recognize you when you have to make an invoice, for example, to receive payment for a job you have done.
Important: It is not always mandatory to have a partita IVA. Depending on the activity you are going to do, we recommend that you consult with an accountant.

What are the types of employment contracts?

There are different types of employment contracts in Italy. Each contract can be different in duration, rights and duties. It is important to know the characteristics of an employment contract to better understand your rights and obligations.

Here are the types of the most common contracts in Italy.

The fixed-term contract is an employment contract that has an expiry date. This means that it has a start date and an end date. This contract cannot last more than 2 years (24 months).
When it comes to fixed-term contracts, you can hear about:

  • Proroga or extension: when a contract is made to last longer than the initial duration that the employer decided. For example, you have a fixed-term contract that expires on 30 September 2021 and the employer decides to extend it for another 6 months, i.e. until 31 March 2022.
  • Rinnovo or renewal: it means that when the contract ends, a new contract can be made. The law says that when a contract ends, and you have to renew it, there should be a break. It means that before starting a new contract you have to wait a few days:
    – 10 days if the duration of the first contract is less than 6 months;
    – 20 days if the duration of the first contract is more than 6 months.

During the renewal, the employer must justify in writing the specific reasons for the renewal. Only contracts for seasonal activities (attività stagionali) can be renewed or extended even without a specific reason.

Always remember that a fixed-term employment contract cannot be longer than 24 months maximum, even if it is renewed or extended.

Unlike the fixed-term contract, the permanent contract does not have an expiry date. It is possible to work with a permanent contract both full-time (for example: 5 days a week for 6-8 hours a day), but also part-time. Part-time means that you don’t work every day or that you work fewer hours.

This means that during the week instead of having a full-time schedule (for example 40 hours), the hours will be 20 or 30 per week. The timetable can be even shorter.
Working hours must be clearly written in the contract. The worker is always entitled to holidays and leave (permessi). However, the number of holidays or permits is lower because the worker works fewer hours.

Usually the part-time contract can be:

  • Part-time orizzontale: The worker works every day, but with fewer hours than full time hours. For example 4 or 5 hours a day on 5 days of the week;
  • Part-time verticale: the worker works full-time, but only on certain days of the week or at certain times of the month or year. For example 6 hours on 3 days of the week

The internship or stage contract is a type of contract that is mainly used for younger people. It is a contract that is used for those who are studying and are looking for a first job.
During the internship or traineeship, the worker also receives professional training that helps improve their skills. For example, working in a team, following a project, using a machine, etc.

In general, there is no age limit to do an internship. The internship has a fixed duration and can be of different types:

  • Stage curriculare: Curricular internship: this type of internship is an alternation of school and work. You can do this internship if you are enrolled in a school or university.
  • Stage extracurriculare o non curriculare: Extracurricular or non-curricular internship: for unemployed people (ie who are not working) or unemployed (ie people who have never worked). For example a young person who is looking for a job.

Usually there is no mandatory minimum remuneration (salary) for the curricular internship, but the company may decide to give compensation to the intern.
On the other hand, for the non-curricular internship, the law says that a minimum remuneration is mandatory, which can vary from 300 euros to 800 euros per month gross depending on the region.

The contract is for young people between 15 and 29 years old. This contract has this name because it involves a job, but also the training necessary to learn that type of job and improve your knowledge. There are various types of apprenticeship contracts depending on your age and the job you want to do.

The on-call contract is an employment contract where the worker does not perform a job for a long period. In fact, he may be called upon to work for only a few days or for small periods of time. For example, during Christmas in stores, there is an increase in purchases to make gifts so employers need more workers to do it faster.

The maximum duration of the contract is 400 working days for three years. If the days are more, the contract automatically becomes permanent. However, there are exceptions for some sectors such as tourism. For example, if you work as a receptionist for more than 400 days, the contract does not automatically become permanent.
You can have multiple on-call contracts in the same time period only if the companies you work for don’t compete with each other.

This type of contract is used for occasional jobs therefore jobs that are not continuous and regular but jobs that are done from time to time. According to the law, for this type of contract the annual earnings must not exceed 5.000 euros.
The occasional work contract cannot be used in the tourism sector.

The collaboration contract, or contratto di collaborazione coordinata e continuativa (, is a contract where the person performs a job for an employer, but can have working hours and times that he decides on his own.
This contract provides for a monthly salary.

Work is seasonal when it is done only for a period of the year. For example in agriculture there are specific months for the harvest of fruit and vegetables. Harvest is done quickly and for this reason the employers decide to hire more workers. Also, in the summer hotels need more workers as there are many tourists.

The contract must clearly state the start and end date of the work, the place of work, the level of employment and the salary. For this type of contract, there is no maximum duration limit as for other fixed-term contracts (24 months).

Seasonal employment contracts can have an important characteristic. If the employer needs more people at work, and you have already done that job, you can demonstrate that you have the right to be called again.
It is called diritto di precedenza.
To apply for this right, you must send a written notice to your employer within three months of the end of your previous contract. In this case, if the company needs seasonal workers in the future, it must first contact former employees, like yourself, and then other candidates.

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