Working in Italy



Opportunities abound in Italy, as do the tightest working regulations in Europe. Despite the rigorous employment process expats need to go through, this country proves itself worth the hard work since it possesses the third-largest economy in the Eurozone.

A mesmerising environment, high standard or living and a beautiful mixture of modern and historical architectures are just considered as the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when it comes to the reasons why Italy is considered as a prime expat destination. This country’s true magnet for foreign workers is its massive, high-income economy that boasts an estimated total of USD 2.149 trillion regarding Nominal Gross Domestic Product. An influential member of several international organisations including NATO and the European Union as well as a major role player in the global military, economic and diplomatic affairs, its no doubt why working in Italy is a dream come true for thousands of aspiring expats.

"Italy is known for being not only difficult but also vague regarding residency permits, etc. The national healthcare system is quite good, however, compared to the US, which doesn't really have one."- Rick Zullo, Expat in Rome, Italy

Italy’s Top Industries

Already world-renowned for its motor vehicles, food, clothing and luxury goods, Italy is slowly but surely making its mark in the technology and media sectors; the Italian business community is thriving. Companies in tourism, accounting and finance, sales and marketing, distribution, wholesale, vehicle sales, minerals, food industries, wood furniture, and artisan enterprises make up the general employment trends in Italy.

The IT industry has also grown in the last few years. Communications and IT personnel with a degree in Engineering are highly coveted. Another skill in high demand is that of English teaching, especially in the major Northern Italian cities and in the hotel industry. There are also frequent vacancies for private school teachers.

Average Salary and Working Hours

Italy doesn’t implement a minimum wage system since the amount an employee receives is agreed through a collective bargaining agreement on a job to job basis. However, the Article 36 of the Constitution states that the salaries must be proportionate to the quantity and quality of work performed by the employee. Employers are also strictly advised that the wages they will offer should be high enough to provide minimum subsistence for the employee and his family.

The normal Italian working hours are 40 hours per week, but employees are not prohibited to work beyond the standard hours as long as their overtime will not exceed eight hours per week or no more than 250 hours a year. Night shifts are also common in Italy and are usually between midnight and 5 am.

Employee Benefits

Another thing to be grateful for is Italy’s worker benefits. The Italian benefits system puts great emphasis on protecting and assisting workers of the few multinationals, which operate in the country. The same benefits, to a lesser extent, are afforded to workers of medium-small sized employers in a country where employers are very much expected to contribute heavily to the social benefits system. Unemployment benefits in Italy consist mainly of cash transfers based on contributions (indennità di disoccupation), up to 40 percent of previous wages for up to seven months.

Sickness benefit, maternity benefit, family allowances and income support are just a few of the major benefits available to residents. The cost of the system is set to increase even further with Italy becoming the fastest ageing population in the developed world.

The Italian Work Culture

The Italian work environment has a hierarchical structure whereas the locals respect to age and seniority. Appearance also deeply matters in this country so expats must dress to impress. For the Italians first impressions do matter, and your appearance says a lot about your family background, educational level and social status. Greetings should also be enthusiastic and less formal. Start with the standard greeting which is shaking hands. Once the professional relationship develops, your Italian colleagues will opt for air-kissing on both cheeks.

Italian calling cards are slightly larger than the traditional cards and should contain your name, address, academic honours or title and contact number. When it comes to gift giving, bring the wine of good vintage quality. Avoid chrysanthemums since they are used for funerals as well as red flowers because they indicate secrecy.

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