What to know about Italian Work Contracts

So I’m sure you’ve heard the jokes about Italians who never show up for work yet somehow collect a salary for years and years. But how true is this? Wellll…. I’m not going to say it isn’t always wrong. Some people are blessed to have an “indeterminato” contract, which often does protect them in the long run. These are some of the most sought-after work contracts in Italy. If you are looking for a job in Italy you’ll want to understand what a determinato or indeterminato is exactly. Let’s get into breaking down Italian work contracts.

This is just a quick look at some things you might see while job hunting. You can, of course, negotiate contracts, however, many Italian contracts are often limited to standardized contracts known as CCNL, sometimes it can be tough to ask for a much higher salary.

What is CCNL?

When offered a job in Italy, you’ll probably be offered a CCNL contract. This is known as a Contratto Collettivo Nazionale di Lavoro. Essentially they are standardized contracts ensuring that equal employment requirements are met.

These contracts outline a base for the stipend, vacation time, tasks, bonuses, and instructions for how to break a contract by either party.

All of these factors are determined by the company’s industry (commercial, agriculture, car factory, etc.) and then by your “level”. The level is determined by your education, years of experience, and previous work contracts. For example, if you’ve worked 2 years at a job under a Commercial level 4 contract when you apply for a new job they will probably offer you a level 3 given that you have grown in experience.

While they are excellent at protecting legal minimums, as a foreigner I see them as a little constricting making it difficult to negotiate a better contract.

In theory, they are renewed and revised every year to adjust for inflation and the like. However, the country of Italy appears to have actually decreased average stipends rather than grown in the last 30 years.

There are actually hundreds of different contracts based on the different levels within the CCNL system, so it is a bit tough to lay out all of them. However they are all available online, just be sure to ask when interviewing what level and sector contract will be being offered.

So what can you negotiate?

During a negotiation for your contract, if the employer puts up a bit of a wall for the level or stipend, there are some areas that are a bit more flexible.
You can try negotiating rimborso spese, reimbursements for travel or food, also work from home time, or flexible hours.

Types of Italian Work Contracts

When in Italy you might find:

Contratto Indeterminato – meaning with no expiry date. These are essentially contracts for life and can be a little bit more difficult for the employer to let you go.

Contratto Determinato – these are set times, they might be for a few years or just a few months.

Apprendistato- essentially an apprenticeship, these are usually fixed for a few years, once completed they are most often upgraded to an indeterminato.

You also might see a few “on-call” contracts, or ritenuta d’acconto which are only for small projects or hourly-based gigs. However, these do not necessarily offer you a contract valid for a visa or permesso di soggiorno. You can pick them up when under a student visa or another work visa if there are hours available.

What do these contracts mean for a visa?

In order to obtain a working visa in Italy, you will need a full-time job. However, this could be an indeterminato, determinato or even an apprendistato. The point is it just needs to be a bit longer, and have you working full time.

If you prefer to work freelance, you need to enter the country on a Freelance Visa, a different process that includes setting up your Partita IVA in Italy.

Full Time vs. Part Time?

Contracts can also be offered in full or part-time. Even for a short part-time contract, you will need to sign an official contract that is registered with the Agenzie delle Entrate.

Part-time can range hours, but full-time is usually over 35 hours, on average 40 hours. The maximum established by these standardized contracts is 48 hours within a 7-day work week. The maximum hours allowed in a day are 13.

While you will need a full-time offer for a work visa, under a student visa you can only work a maximum of 20 hours, meaning a part-time contract.

A good thing to keep in mind is there is a bit of a grey area – legally you can only work 20 hours but things like babysitting or tutoring, aren’t registered by the Agenzie delle Entrate. It is doubtful you’ll do more than 20 hours of that in a week as a full-time student, but just to calm your worries. If for some reason you end up with a bunch of

Otherwise, as a student, you can accept a part-time position, but you’ll mainly find them in retail, or at restaurants. These aren’t always easy to find or work out. Not because they might not offer you one, but because balancing the hours with your student and personal life might be difficult!

You can look out for these contracts on online posting forums or by stopping into local shops and asking in person.

Getting Paid on an Italian Work Contract

In Italy you are paid monthly. Most often contracts will have it outlined that you will be paid 25-30 days from completion of the tasks. So for example you will be paid for your work from August, by September 30th. Frequently I see paychecks coming in around the 26th-28th.

Another peculiarity of Italian work contracts is that often you will be paid for 13 or 14 months out of a year, receiving these extra payments in December and June. The first time you receive this it will be in base of how many days you have worked already, from then on it should be the equivalent of a base monthly stipend.

Your paycheck might alter slightly every month depending on taxes, paid holidays, unpaid time off, and various other factors. Soon I will update with a blog sharing how to best read your “Busta Paga” or Paycheck.

If you found this information helpful you can show your support by buying me a glass of wine 🥂. I really appreciate it and each glass inspires me to research more into life in Italy!

If you found this information helpful you can show your support by buying me a glass of wine 🥂. I really appreciate it and each glass inspires me to research more into life in Italy!

And if you are looking for more help on your journey of making Italy home or looking for local insight to plan the best trip, get in touch, let me help you experience authentic Italy.