Italy: the right to work checklist and acceptable documents

Sep 13, 2021

Employers’ obligation

The employer must make sure that each foreign national employee is authorized to work before hiring. Employers are subject to sanctions if they hire non-EU employees who do not have necessary visas/permits.

Do I have the right to work in Italy?

If the potential employee already resides in Italy, the employer must ensure he/she holds a permit that allows work before hiring. Some of the residence permits (Permesso di Soggiorno) allowing the holder to work are:

  • permits for employment or self-employment
  • family permits
  • study permits – but only up to 40 hours per week
  • unemployment permits
  • permanent residence permit

Documents should be available at least 24 hours prior to the first day of work to allow the employer to complete and upload the “UNILAV Form” (this is the online form that must be completed and filed when hiring an employee).

What to do when hiring a worker abroad?

In case of hire or assignment of foreign nationals residing abroad, the employer must:

  • obtain a work permit clearance (nulla osta al lavoro) from the Immigration Office in Italy
  • the worker must then get a visa at the Italian Consulate in country of residence and travel to Italy
  • within 8 days from entrance he/she must complete the registration formalities with immigration authorities
  • sign the contract of stay (contratto di soggiorno) together with the employer at the Immigration Office
  • file the residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) application.

Once these steps are completed, the foreign national is compliant to start work from an immigration perspective.

How is the right to work maintained?

In the case of locally hired employees, the employer must ensure that the employee has duly filed the residence permit renewal application and is in possession of the application receipt. Note: the renewal application can be filed at least 60 days before and no later than 60 days after the expiration date of the residence permit.

In the case of workers on assignment, the employer must apply for renewal of the work permit before its expiry date while the employee must file the residence permit renewal application.

What documents should the employer keep on file?

  1. passport
  2. Italian tax ID number (Codice Fiscale)
  3. Residence Permit (Permesso di Soggiorno), allowing the applicant to work (some of the residence permits that allow work are: permits for employment or self-employment, family permits, study permits but only up to 40 hours per week, permanent residence permit etc)
  4. Contract of Stay (Contratto di Soggiorno) and visa (if applicable)
  5. Renewal application Receipt (if applicable)

As document retention requirements are not outlined in immigration law, it is recommended that the employer keeps copies of the foreign national’s proof of work authorization. It is advisable to keep the documents for 5 years

What are the penalties – under Immigration Law – if an employee is found to be working without the proper work authorization?

The penalty for hiring foreign workers without a permit of stay, with expired permits, or with permits that have been revoked or annulled, is imprisonment from 6 months up to three years and a fine of €5,000 for each illegal employee.

In addition, the employer is also forced to pay an accessory administrative fine which will amount to the average cost of the repatriation of the illegally employed worker. In the case of the employment of irregular migrant workers, administrative sanctions will apply calculated according to the gravity of circumstances.

Any charges foreseen for the employment of irregular workers is increased by at least 20% if the caseworker is a foreign national. Moreover, the charges foreseen are aggravated in the three following circumstances:

  • If more than three third-country nationals are employed.
  • If the employed third-country nationals are minors.
  • In case the workers have been subjected to conditions of particular labour exploitation.

In this last case, the third-country national who has denounced his employer may be granted a residence permit with a duration of six months by the judge.

An employer charged with the offences of favouring illegal immigration or illicit brokering and labour exploitation within the last five years, will not be given clearance to employ third-country nationals and any immigration application will be denied by the prefecture.

Remark: there can be additional sanctions set forth by criminal and administrative laws as well for the violation of labour and social security rules.

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