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Italy – What happened in employment law in 2018?

Written by
Toffoletto de Luca Tamajo, working in employment law since 1925.
This article sets out some of the most important developments in Italian employment law in 2018.

Privacy and workplace monitoring

In March the Italian Supreme Court fined an employer for breaching an employee’s privacy through covert use of a surveillance camera.

By contrast, in May the Supreme Court ruled that employees could legally record their colleagues providing they were acting to safeguard their rights and directly took part in the conversation recorded.

In August, the government introduced a new regulation transposing the European General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation EU 2016/679, or GDPR) into Italian law.

In September, however, the Supreme Court confirmed its earlier decision that employers can legally use investigative agencies to monitor employees suspected of wrongdoing.

Gig economy: Foodora and Glovo delivery drivers are not employees

In April an Italian employment tribunal held that riders working for the food delivery app Foodora were self-employed contractors and not employees. In May the tribunal published its reasoning, essentially stating that the riders’ ability to refuse work and the absence of an obligation on the company to provide it meant it was not an employment relationship.

This ruling was confirmed in July in an unrelated case relating to riders for the food delivery service Glovo.

In January 2019, the Court of Appeal overruled certain parts of the employment tribunal’s judgment issued in April. Although the riders continue to be recognised as self-employed workers, the Court ruled that the general regulations governing the execution of employment contracts should be extended to cover riders as well.  The reasons for the decision and its practical implications will become clear in the near future.

Legislative measures introduced by the new government

New rules in Italian employment law  

In July the so-called ‘Dignity Decree’ reversed the relaxation of rules on fixed-term and agency work contracts. It also increased the indemnities payable to employees in cases of unfair dismissal and introduced sanctions for companies that relocate or make employees redundant after having received state aid.

The new rules become law

In August the so-called ‘Dignity Decree’ was converted into law. The new law confirmed limitations on the use of fixed-term and agency work contracts, the minimum and maximum compensation payment in cases of unfair dismissal, and the sanctions that can be imposed on companies that benefit from state aid and then subsequently move their business.

New law on Whistleblowing

At the start of 2018, Italy’s December 2017 regulation offering whistleblowers in the public and private sectors greater protection took effect.

New extraordinary wage subsidy: CIGS for cessation of business

A measure reintroduced in September gives companies in crisis who have wholly or partially ceased trading the opportunity to apply for financial support to guarantee employee wages. This article sets out the details and conditions of the revived provision.

New provisions on banks’ remuneration policies

Updated regulations on pay and bonuses in the banking sector introduced in October aim to increase the regulation of economic incentives, in order to discourage bank employees from exposing banks and the wider economy to excessive risk.

The ‘Decreto Salvini’ on immigration

In October the ‘Decreto Salvini, which introduces sweeping changes to immigration, asylum and citizenship law entered into force.

The Italian Constitutional Court’s decision on compensation for unfair dismissal

In September, the Italian Constitutional Court (Decision no. 194/2018) declared that the automatic criterion used to identify the amount of compensation due for unfair dismissals was unconstitutional. This criterion provided for compensation equal to two months’ salary for each year of service.

As a result of this decision, when deciding the amount of compensation due, judges will now take into consideration several circumstances, including the conduct and conditions of the parties, the number of employees employed and the scale of the company’s economic activities.

Discrimination-related case law

Bonuses and promotions based on days worked can constitute indirect discrimination

Two appeal court rulings held that bonus schemes and automatic promotions that are tied to days of effective presence at work might create indirect gender discrimination.

Protecting women from ‘dismissal for marriage’ is not discriminatory

In November, the Italian Supreme Court confirmed that offering protection from dismissal for women in the period immediately following their marriage is not discriminatory.

Case law on grounds for dismissal

Not refusing to execute a superior’s unlawful order justifies dismissal for cause

In two recent decisions in September and November, the Italian Supreme Court confirmed that an employee who does not refuse to execute an unlawful order from a superior can be sanctioned by dismissal for cause.

Employees’ negative Facebook comments can be valid grounds for dismissal

The Supreme Court ruled that insulting an employer on Facebook can be defamation and constitute grounds for dismissal.

Emanuela Nespoli
Partner - Italy
Toffoletto De Luca Tamajo