The Italian Republic is located in south central Europe and has the world’s eighth largest economy. It is the third largest economy in the European Union, of which Italy is a founding and leading member. Long known as a global cultural center, Italy offers access to art, music, literature, philosophy, science, technology and fashion. Tourism plays a major part in the Italian economy and it is the fifth most visited country in the world.
An employment contract in Italy can be either oral or written, and there is no form that must be followed, but written contracts are the norm. All fixed-term contracts must be in writing, and if the contract is to include a probation period or a non-competition clause, these clauses must be in writing. In addition, the employer is required to provide a written statement to the employee disclosing certain information within 30 days of the start of employment. Employment contracts can be indefinite or for a fixed term. Fixed-term contracts may be for no longer than 12 months, after which they may be extended for up to 12 additional months if there is a compelling reason. A fixed-term contract may be renewed a total of four times within 24 months.
The standard workweek is 40 hours over five days, and employees may not work more than 48 hours over seven days, including overtime, averaged over four months. Collective bargaining agreements may modify these rules somewhat. There is no legal limit to the number of hours an employee can work in one day, although there is a practical one, since employees must have a rest period of 11 consecutive hours every 24 hours. Workers under 16 years old may not work more than seven hours per day, and workers who are between 16 and 18 may not work more than eight hours. The amount of overtime an employee may work is generally set by contract or collective bargaining agreements, but overtime may not exceed 250 hours per year. Pay rates for overtime or work on a holiday are set by collective bargaining agreements. Night work (work between midnight and 5 a.m.) is capped at eight hours in a 24-hour period and generally limited to 80 nights per year. These terms may be modified somewhat by collective bargaining agreements.
Most employees in Italy receive sick leave, with the terms of it being specified in a collective bargaining agreement or an individual employment contract. Employees typically receive partial pay from social security and some collective bargaining agreements require that the employer supplement the social security payment to ensure the employee receives full pay. Employees are typically entitled to six to 12 months of sick leave, and some collective bargaining agreements provide for unpaid leave after the entire sick leave specified by the agreement has been used.
Expectant mothers receive five months of maternity leave, with two months before the estimated birth date and three months after giving birth. She may choose to take all five months after the birth, if a doctor provides a medical certificate permitting this, and in some circumstances, with a medical certificate, she may be able to begin maternity leave more than two months before giving birth. Female employees on maternity leave receive 80% of their usual salary from social security. Some collective bargaining agreements require that the employer pay the remaining 20%. Fathers receive seven days of paid paternity leave, which must be taken within five months of the child’s birth. Both parents have the right to take parental leave of up to six months each (up to a maximum of 10 months total), at 30% pay, until the child is 12 years old. Employees who adopt a child are entitled to three months of maternity or paternity leave and may take parental leave at 30% pay on the same terms as biological parents until the child is three years old. An employee on maternity leave must be allowed to return to her job when the leave ends.
Italy has no legal minimum wage. Minimum wages are normally set by collective bargaining agreements. Bonuses are common in Italy. Many employees receive a 13th month salary at Christmas.
Employees receive four weeks of paid leave per year. Some collective bargaining agreements provide for more leave.
Italy has universal healthcare.
Employers may terminate employees for either objective reasons, which are generally connected with economic factors or the needs of the business, or subjective reasons, which are normally related to the employee’s performance and/or breaches of the employee’s contractual obligations to the employer. The employee must always be given a written notice of termination. The notice period is normally set by the collective bargaining agreement. In cases where the employee has committed very serious misconduct, the employer may terminate the employee immediately. If the employee is being terminated for less serious misconduct, the employer must provide the employee a written statement explaining their breach of the employment contract and allow the employee five days to respond. If the employer still wishes to terminate the employee after reviewing their response, the employer must send a second letter, explaining why the employee’s response does not offer sufficient justification for the misconduct, and provide the employee a letter of termination which states the reason for the termination. Special rules apply to executives. Employees who are in a probation period may be terminated with no notice. Employees who wish to resign must provide written notice to the employer, except during the probation period, when no notice is required.
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