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Global employment law briefing: Italy, June 2017

  • Italy
  • Employment law


New protections for the self-employed and agile workers

A legislative decree was approved by the Senate in May 2017 - the so called “Jobs Act for self-employed workers”. The Decree contains a comprehensive set of rules which apply to both self-employed workers and employees.

As regards self-employed workers, a key aspect of the Decree is to protect against certain unfair terms of engagement so that :

  • a contract term which purports to allow a hirer to unilaterally modify the terms and conditions of the self-employed worker’s contract, terminate the contract without notice, or to apply a payment period in excess of 60 days, is deemed “unfair”, and therefore void
  • the contract must be in writing
  • the self-employed worker has rights of ownership over inventions created during his or her execution of the contract

The Decree has also introduced new measures to protect self-employed workers in the event of maternity, sickness or injury so that, for a limited time during such periods of incapacity, the contract is preserved but suspended without pay.

A further element of the Decree is to include self-employed workers who provide services in a continuous and coordinated way but who organise their activities independently, within the recognised categories of worker under Italian legal provision (characterised within the Code of Civil Procedure by a concept of “coordination”).

To reflect changes to modern working life when it comes to remote working and use of technology, the Decree also includes a set of rules aimed at “lavoro agile” or “smart working”. Any such arrangements must be agreed between the parties and based on phases, work cycles and objectives, not as a fixed arrangement in terms of working hours and workplace, though the work must be subject to normal working hours in any event.

Specific requirements of a smart working agreement include that the terms must be confirmed in writing and must identify rest periods and the right of the employee to have periods where they are not contactable. The agreement may be for a fixed-term or be open-ended but, in the latter case, will be terminable on not less than 30 days’ notice. The smart workers themselves must be treated at least equally with colleagues working at the employer’s premises and may only be monitored to the extent permitted by law (under the 1970 Statute of Workers). Those involved in smart working have the right to be protected against accidents at work and occupation diseases connected with performance of duties outside of the employer’s premises.