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    INVEST IN ITALY

    EU/EEA and Swiss nationals

    According to the principle of free movement of persons, goods, services and capital, EU (European Union) and EEA (European Economic Area) nationals can be employed in Italy without any authorization by the Italian au- thorities.

    Should an EU national choose to work in Italy for a period in excess of 3 months, he/she should apply for a so called "Stay card" ("Carta di Soggiorno"), which is normally issued by the local State Police office ("Questura") upon a simple request. This permit is renewable. Swiss citizens have the same right of entry, residence and ac- cess to work applicable as EU countries nationals.

    Non EU/EEA nationals - the quota system

    The admission of non-EU foreign workers is subject to a mechanism of quantitative selectivity based on quotas for new entries on a yearly basis.

    They are meant to regulate the admission of third country nationals and their access to Italian labor market, by combining a purely quantitative selectivity with some elements of qualitative selectivity.

    The determination of annual quotas of new inflows is established by the government, which sets the quota through a Prime Minister Decree (known as "Decreto Flussi"). The quota decree is published in the Official Jour- nal and starts some days after the implementation phase.

    The whole implementation process of the quota system is basically made up of three main steps:
    •authorization requests presented by employers to the Immigration Single Desk (ISD);
    •visa request by prospective migrants in their country of origin;
    •request and delivery of the stay permit for working purposes.

    Authorization (nulla osta) request

    Employers have to request authorization to hire a foreign worker living abroad to the ISD.

    In the application file the applicant employer is expected to submit a so called "Stay contract" ("Contratto di soggiorno") in which she/he commits him/herself to guarantee adequate lodging for the requested worker and to fund travel costs for his/her repatriation in case of expulsion before the expiry of the contract.

    In addition, the contract has to include the work contract's details that must comply with existing collective contracts for the specific sector/occupation in which the requested worker will be employed.

    Once all the checks have been made by both Labor authority ("Direzione Territoriale del Lavoro") and local State Police office ("Questura"), the authorization ("nulla osta"), may be delivered to the applicant employer. The whole procedure should take 40 days from the application.

    Visa issuance

    Once the nulla osta is delivered to the employer, he/she sends it on to the individual foreign worker to be re- cruited who must present him/herself at the Italian diplomatic representation in his/her country of origin and requests a visa for working purposes.

    The nulla osta will have a 6 month-validity, and during this period the visa may be issued.

    Stay permit (permesso di soggiorno) issuance

    Within eight days of his/her arrival, the foreign worker must sign the stay contract presented by the employer at the ISD and simultaneously apply for the stay permit ("Permesso di soggiorno") for working purposes. The stay permit will be issued by the Questura. The stay permit has the same duration as the employment contract with a maximum of 2 years and it is renewable.

    Exemptions - extra-quotas entries

    The admission of some categories of workers is explicitly exempt from the quantitative limits set through the quota system.

    In particular, specific professional profiles can be admitted without any quantitative cap to regulate their inflow (for example: managers or highly skilled staff members of multinational/foreign companies, university lectu- rers and professors, translators and interpreters, professional nurses, etc.).

    Despite the lack of explicit quantitative limitations, the admission of workers in these categories is still subject to the authorization ("nulla osta") granted by the territorial ISD, even if admission procedure has been further simplified for specific categories.

    Stay permits have a maximum duration of two years, in case of fixed term contracts, or unlimited duration in case of open-ended contracts.

    Visa for investors

    Italian law provides for a special, easier and quicker procedure for foreign individual that intend to invest in Italy. This new visa opens the door to the recognition of a two-year residence permit, renewable for another three years, provided that the foreign investor (not EU citizen) demonstrates that he intends to:

    •buy Italian government bonds for at least 2 million or
    •invest in the capital of an Italian company (at least 1 million euros) or in a startup (minimum 500 thou- sand euros).

    The investment must, in any case, be maintained for at least two years.

    Alternatively this procedure will be applicable in case of relevant philanthropic donations in cultural assets, im- migrant management, education and research, for a minimum of one million.

    This rule is aimed at facilitating the release of VISAS to potential investors and allows the stay, for periods of more than three months with no application of the quota system.

    The investor must file the request to a specific Committee that was set up for this purpose by the Ministry of Economic Development. In the committee sit, among the others, representatives of Viminale, Farnesina, Uif, Security Guard, Revenue and Ice Agency.

    In particular, the Committee will evaluate the documents with which the investor must demonstrate that she/he is the holder or beneficiary of the amounts to be invested and the certification of the legality of the funds, as well as the absence of definitive penal convictions or any other pending charges.

    A specific Decree released by the Ministry of Economic Development in July 2017 (http://www.sviluppoeconomico.gov.it/images/stories/normativa/decreto_interministeriale_21_luglio_2017_in- gresso_e_soggiorno_investitori.pdf) defines the procedure for the establishment of such requirements by the Committee to which the following documentation (via the online platform) must be submitted:

    1.a copy of a valid travel document with an expiration date of at least three months more than the length of the required visa;

    2.documentation by which the applicant proves to be the beneficial owner and beneficiary of the amounts to be invested and that these amounts are available and transferable to Italy;

    3.certification attesting to the legal origin of the funds constituted by:

    a.a statement made by the requesting party indicating the source from which the funds originate;

    b.certification of non-existence of definitive criminal convictions and pending charges issued by the competent authorities of countries other than Italy where, during the 10 years prior to the sub- mission of the application and after the age of 18 years, the applicant has stayed for a period of more than 12 consecutive months;

    4.a statement with which the applicant undertakes to use the funds within three months of entering into Italy for the investment or donation and maintaining the investment for at least two years. The statement must me filed together with a description of the characteristics and recipients of the in- vestment or donation.

    For information you can also visit https://investorvisa.mise.gov.it/index.php/en/

    Formal fulfillment

    At the establishment of any employment relationship, the employer must notify the competent public employ- ment service ("Centro per l'Impiego") at least 24 hours prior to commencement. This notification also fulfills the obligation to notify the relevant social security institutions (i.e. INPS and INAIL).
    If provided for by law, an employer must also stipulate insurance policies against risks and damage suffered by third parties caused by employees fulfilling their employment duties.

    Trial period

    The statutory trial periods are the following:
    3 months, for employees not assigned to managing functions;
    6 months, for all other employees.

    However, the probation period is commonly set in the relevant NCAs depending on the category of the employ During the trial period, either party may freely terminate the working relationship at any time, without any notice, obligation or payment of the relevant indemnity in lieu.

    Pay

    Italian law does not give a statutory definition of "wages" and "salary".

    For income tax and social security purposes, any compensation granted to the employee within the scope of the employment relationship, including compensation in kind, is considered wages (this does not include a few limited exceptions, such as expenses reimbursement).

    There is no statutory minimum wage in Italy. Minimum wages for each contractual level are usually set out by sector in the relevant national collective agreements (NCAs). A minimum wage is being introduced for workers not currently covered by NCAs, although they account for less than 3% of the total workforce.

    There are no statutory bonuses. NCAs may provide for some such as the collective performance bonus ("premi di risultato") or individual performance bonuses. There are no statutory allowances, although NCAs provide for transportation allowances or indemnities for certain working arrangements such as on-call work.

    Under Italian law, compensation is granted in thirteen (13) monthly installments. The additional 13th installment ("tredicesima") is paid out each year along with the December salary.
    Some NCAs provide for a 14th monthly installment, normally paid in June.

    The NCAs also normally set the payment date and the calculation basis of the contractual items (e.g. notice period, compensation during illness).
    Employers frequently grant certain employees with fringe benefits (for example: a company car and mobile phone to top/middle management and sales positions, luncheon vouchers and internal or external training and education). Employers are required to fund severance payments for all employees ("Trattamento di Fine Rap- porto - TFR"), amounting to 1/13.5 of the annual overall compensation, payable on termination of employment for any reason.

    Working hours

    Executives are not subject to the rules governing working hours. Some NCAs provide for a working week of less than 40 hours. Employees must be granted at least one weekly rest day (normally Sunday).

    Exceptional and temporary business activities may need employees working on weekly rest days or legal holi- days.

    Overtime work is considered to be the hours worked exceeding the 40 hours per week and may not exceed 8 hours on a weekly basis and 250 hours on a yearly basis. NCAs set specific additional rates to be applied over- time work and can also replace overpay with additional rest days.

    Holidays and vacations

    A local saint's day (variable on the local tradition of each city) is also considered a public holiday for the relevant territory.

    Public holidays that fall on the weekend do not entitle absence from work on the nearest weekday, but emplo- yees are entitled to their normal pay.

    Statutory annual vacations amount to 4 weeks.

    The employer normally decides when workers can take vacation based on company and production interests and taking into account (where possible) employees' needs. NCAs normally provide for, in addition to the sta- tutory minimum, a further period of paid vacation that it is increased with seniority service.

    The law states that at least two weeks have to be taken in the same year. Up to two weeks of unused vacation may be postponed, but it must be taken within 18 months following the accrual year.

    Employees are entitled to pay in lieu of unused vacation upon employment termination.

    Sick leave

    Employees are entitled to 3 days of paid sick leave charged to the employer.

    Pay replacement benefits are provided by social security institute from the 4th day of illness to the 180th day. Certain NCAs require employers to top up social security benefits to 100% of salary.

    During sickness, the contract is suspended and the employees' seniority is protected. Employees cannot be di- smissed before the end of a minimum period prescribed by the applicable collective agreement. After that pe- riod, an employer may terminate the contract.

    Maternity leave
    Pregnant female employees are entitled to 5 months' maternity leave, from the second month prior to the due date to the third month after birth.

    The last 3 months can be extended to 7 months in specific cases.

    Pay replacement benefits are provided by social security. Any work that might be considered harmful is forbid- den during pregnancy.

    During maternity leave the employment is suspended and seniority is protected.

    Other leaves

    There are other leaves provided for by law, for example: adoption leave, paternity leave, parental leave and short- term leaves, such as wedding leave or leave linked to public and jury duties, family circumstances or educa- tion.

    Contract amendments

    The parties cannot modify the individual contract terms and conditions, unless the relevant amendments pro- vide for a more favorable treatment of the employee. The Jobs Act has amended the provision regarding the change of an employee’s task and duties. Unless agreed otherwise with employers, employees are entitled to maintain their salary - with the exception of task-related indemnities - even if their tasks are reduced.

    Non-competition clause

    According to Article 2125 of the Civil Code, written non-compete covenants are allowed provided that:

    •adequate compensation is granted to the employee;
    •duration of the agreement does not exceed 3 years for normal employees and 5 years for executives; and
    •it is circumscribed from a business and territorial standpoint.

    Italian law does not provide specific criteria with regard to identifying adequate compensation and the scope of activity or territory.

    Therefore, in case of disputes, such criteria are determined by the Court on a case by case basis.

    Teleworking

    Teleworking must be voluntarily agreed with the employee. Teleworkers are entitled to the same rights as em- ployees performing the same tasks and duties at the company's premises, including with respect to training and career opportunities.

    The general regulatory framework concerning employees working from home can mostly be found in several NCAs. More specific rules may be agreed at local and/or company level.

    Smart working

    Smart working is considered as “a way of implementing an employment relationship” carried out in part at the premises of the company and partly at a different location, without a fixed workplace, but within a maximum duration limit of the daily and weekly work hours established by law and the collective bargaining agreement. Such a way of implementing the employment relationship must be established by written agreement between the parties, also through organization by phases, cycles and objectives, with the possible use of technological means to carry out the work activity.

    Temporary lay-off

    In the event of a temporary crisis, the employer may use the "redundancy fund" ("Cassa Integrazione Guadagni", CIG) which is a collective suspension from work of the blue and/or white collar employees, allowing the latter to continue receiving up to 80% of the normal wage charged on a special fund held by the social security insti- tute.

     

    COMPULSORY HIRING OF DISABLED WORKERS

     

    Companies in breach of these obligations are subject to administrative sanctions. In order to encourage the compliance, employers can enter into conventions with the competent authorities for the hiring of disabled workers. Companies that are experiencing financial or business difficulties can apply for a temporary suspen- sion of this obligation.

    Companies staffed with more than 35 employees which, due to the nature of their business (e.g. dangerous and strenuous works), cannot fulfill their quota may be eligible for a partial exemption from this obligation.

     

    Basic rules regarding rights and obligations of employer-employee relationship in Italy can be found in the Constitution, the Civil Code ("Codice Civile") which includes a special section on employment matters, and the Workers' Statute ("Statuto dei Lavoratori"), i.e. Law no. 300/1970 as modified by subsequent legislation. Terms and conditions of employment are also fixed by national collective agreements ("NCAs", Contratti collettivi) signed periodically between the trade unions and the employers associations of the same industry. These collective bargaining contracts normally regulate the working conditions and establish the minimum wage and salary scales for each particular sector.

    Employment contracts are governed by the general rules set out in the Civil Code.

    Given the existence of a large number of NCAs and their extensive use by the employers, employment agree- ments in Italy normally consist of simple hiring letters which refer to the items required by the law including, the identity of the parties, place of work, employment start date, trial period (if any), duration of the employment (in case of fixed-term employment) and enrollment, employee's duties) and to the provisions contained in the applicable NCAs.

    Individual employment contracts also specify the employee's "category" as established by the Civil Code, under article 2095.

     There are four categories of employees:
    •  executives ("Dirigenti");
    •  middle managers ("Quadri");
    •  white collar employees ("Impiegati");
    •  blue collar employees ("Operai").

    Despite the fact that national collective agreements normally define general principles that regulate the em- ployment relationship of Dirigenti, general and specific conditions are often negotiated through individual agree-ments. Quadri are defined as employees who, while not top executives, are continuously engaged in duties that contribute significantly to promoting the company’s growth and achieving its goals. According to a limited num- ber of collective agreements, employers are required to insure quadri against claims for civil liability brought by third parties as a result of negligence in their duties.

    At the start of the employment relationship, the employer must inform the employee of the main terms and conditions of his/her contract.

    Italian law does not prescribe any particular form for employment contracts generally; they may be communi- cated orally, although most contracts are evidenced in writing. That said, some specific provisions as well as specific information concerning the employment relationship are required by law to be written down (for exam- ple: trial period, non-compete clause, fixed-term, if any). Also, certain types of contracts are required by law to be in writing (for example: part-time contracts).

    Employment contracts can be made in any language, provided that both parties are able to fully understand the content of any provision therein.

    The age of majority is 18 years old in Italy. The minimum age required for validly entering into an employment relationship is 16 years old with the parents' consent (15 years old for apprenticeships contracts).

     

    Software can be protected by referring to Copyright Law (Law no. 633/1941), with particular regard to articles 64 bis to 64 quarter, since the law does not set forth any particular protection to be granted to such programs under IPC; nonetheless in some peculiar cases it could be recognized the patentability, provided that the soft- ware solves a technical issue.

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