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A COVID pass to go to work? The position in Italy and beyond

From 15 October to 31 December 2021, workers cannot access any place of work in Italy without a ‘Green Pass’. Other countries have addressed the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace in other ways.

What is the Green Pass?

The Green Pass is a certificate which is issued in the following circumstances:

  • The holder has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • The holder has received a negative result from a rapid or antigen test in the previous 48 hours.
  • The holder has recovered from COVID-19 in the previous six months.

Who needs a Green Pass?

In the private sector, all workers must possess and present, on request, a Green Pass to access the workplace, regardless of their type of employment contract (meaning the obligation extends, for example, to apprentices, volunteers and freelancers). The obligation also applies to anyone who is carrying out work, training or a voluntary activity for any reason, even those on external contracts (e.g. temporary workers).

However, individuals who are exempt from the vaccination requirement on the basis of a medical certificate are excluded from this obligation.

Who is responsible for checking Green Passes?

The employer is responsible for checking whether employees are in possession of the Green Pass. Employers must:

  • Define what monitoring methods are used. Checks should preferably be carried out at the point of access to the workplace and, if necessary, also on a sample basis.
  • Identify, by making a formal appointment, the person in charge of checking whether employees are in possession of a Green Pass and notifying any violations.


Employers can be fined between EUR 400 and EUR 1,000 for failing to comply with the obligations described above.

For workers who carry out their activities based on external contracts (e.g. service providers), checks must be carried out not only by their employer, but also by the person who has that responsibility in the place where the services are carried out.

What are the consequences for employees?

Private sector employees who communicate that they are not in possession of a Green Pass or who do not have a Green Pass at the time of access the workplace can be considered to be unjustifiably absent from work until they can present a Green Pass. This applies until 31 December 2021.

During their period of absence, employees are not entitled to be paid (or receive any other remuneration element such as bonuses) but they will keep their job; they cannot be dismissed and cannot be subjected to any disciplinary procedure. However, employees who access the workplace trying to avoid checks can be subject to disciplinary procedures.

Employees who access the workplace without possessing and exhibiting a Green Pass can be liable for a fine of between EUR 600 and EUR 1,500.

The view from other places.

New Zealand:
United Kingdom:
Written by
Toffoletto de Luca Tamajo, working in employment law since 1925.
Stefano de Luca Tamajo
Partner - Italy
Toffoletto De Luca Tamajo