Types of Job Contract

Find out about the various types of work contracts and what they require of the employee...

There are two main kinds of contract:

  1. for employees (dipendente) and
  2. for apprentices or work-training.

Apprenticeship and work-training contracts

Apprenticeship contracts (contratto di apprendistato/tirocinio) are for people between the ages of 16 and 24 and cover a training period during which employees have reduced benefits and low pay compared with employees. The duration of an apprenticeship cannot be less than 18 months or more than four years. When the contract expires, the employer must offer a permanent contract if they wish to retain the apprentice's services. Employers often take on staff using this contract to avoid paying taxes and certain benefits, which are paid by the state.

Work-training contracts (contratto di formazione e lavoro) were introduced to make it easier for young people to obtain jobs and only workers between 16 and 32 years of age are eligible. There are two kinds of work-training contract, neither of which is renewable:

  1. a one-year contract and
  2. a two-year contract leading to an intermediate or high professional level.

One of the advantages (to employers) of these contracts is reduced social security contributions, which vary according to the type of enterprise and region of the country, mainly favouring the depressed southern areas.

Employee contracts

Employee contracts may be for a fixed term (contratto a termine or contratto a tempo determinato) or permanent (contratto a tempo indeterminato), which is more common. Both types of contracts are covered by the general rules established by the Italian Civil code. The government encourages companies to offer permanent employment contracts and discourages the use of fixed-term contracts. 

Contracts for a fixed term are possible only in certain cases provided for in collective agreements or by law, such as seasonal or unusual occupations or replacements for temporarily absent workers.

A fixed-term contract lasts for a specified period and terminates automatically without requiring either party to give notice. A fixed-term contract may be renewed, but if it's renewed a second time it automatically becomes an unlimited duration contract and the job is then permanent.

In most fields of employment in Italy, standard employment contracts are drafted by a professional body, based on collective labour contracts or legislation. These are usually applicable unless both employer and employee agree otherwise in writing.

Understanding the Employee Contract

A contract should state the salary, holiday dates, pay details, sick pay entitlement and any bonuses, and make reference to a national collective bargaining agreement if appropriate.

At the top of each contract there's a list of all the workers' union's agreement abbreviations, next to which is the word stipula, which means the date of hire. Decorrenza means "with effect from", under which will be the date work starts.

The employment contract may also contain:

  • job title
  • department name and manager
  • main duties
  • relationships with other departments
  • responsibility to the employer
  • place(s) of work
  • salary details, including extra month's salary and any agreed increases
  • probationary and notice periods.

Other kinds of employment contracts include those for positions such as seasonal work (lavoro stagionale) and temporary replacement (lavoro interinale) to cover maternity leave, illness, military service and so on when it's necessary to hire temporary staff.

In addition to a contract, obtain a copy of your employer's general terms and conditions (condizioni di impiego), which govern such things as staff regulations and benefits, and apply to all employees unless otherwise stated in individual contracts of employment. General conditions are usually referred to in employment contracts and employees usually receive a copy on starting a job (or in some cases beforehand).

Extract from Living and Working in Italy (3rd Edition, 2007) edited by Graeme Chesters (Available as eBook or order from Amazon) Published by Survival Books Ltd Copyright © Survival Books Ltd All Rights Reserved (Updated June 2021)