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Expats Working in Italy

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: April 2014

Permission to Work

Citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland do not have to go through any immigration procedures to enter Italy. Once they have entered, they are free to live and work in Italy and do not need any kind of work permit. However, they will need to prove they are in gainful employment or have adequate savings. The situation is much more difficult for non-EEA citizens, who have further bureaucratic hoops to jump through. Employment opportunities, which are thin on the ground in many sectors, are preferentially offered first to Italians, then to European Union citizens.

Additionally, most lines of work are subject to national quotas, and once a quota is filled for your country, which can happen very quickly after they are issued (early in the year), you will not be eligible for that year. Moreover, these quotas are not always renewed every year, so in some years there will not be any chance of getting a job in your line of work. This is likely to be the case if you are a self-employed worker (this includes entrepreneurs) – such people may be employed on an informal basis instead. To circumvent the bureaucracy, many companies take on workers as self-employed; this is especially true for the unskilled.

For those outside the EEA, the full process of getting a job can take up to a year. The first stage of getting a job in Italy is to obtain an offer for permanent employment. After this, your prospective employer needs to obtain a work permit (Autorizzazione al Lavoro) on your behalf before you can obtain permission to live and work in Italy. Your future employer does this by applying to the Single Immigration Desk for the prefecture they are based in. First they must prove there are no locals who could do your job instead. However, they may have lost interest by this point – it’s a rare employer who is prepared to take the time (and risk) that this procedure involves.

Once you have been officially approved, the application can be completed and the Italian company can send you your new work permit. This document will enable you to apply for an entry visa at your local Italian embassy or consulate. As soon as you obtain this last document, you can make your way to Italy. On arriving in Italy, all immigrants will need to apply for a permit to stay to be able to function in Italy. See Settlement, Residence and Citizenship for more details on the application process for this document.

This page gives details on the visas, work permits and other immigration procedures you need to complete before you will be able to work in Italy. For more information on finding a job and other work-related topics, see the Employment And Business section.

 

Conditions

Working conditions in Italy are good, though not quite as good as in other parts of Western Europe. Pay is lower, at an average of approximately €14,000 per annum. However, workers earn 13 or even 14 pay packets per year.

As elsewhere in the EU, the maximum legal working week is 48 hours, without voluntary signing off for overtime. Maternity leave is granted from two months before the due date, and is at the rate of 80% of the normal salary, paid for by social security. Parental leave can be extended to the first 8 years of the child’s life, though in this case the allowance permitted is only at 30%. Sick leave is guaranteed and job security is substantially protected thanks to favourable labour laws.
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