Working in Rome?
Working Conditions in Rome
No Need to Fear a Burnout
When you are about to start your new job in Rome, you’re going to wonder what working conditions in Italy are like. Your average working day begins around 8 or 9 am and ends officially at 6 or 7 pm – although people working in management often stay at the office longer than that, as in most other countries.
An employee’s (as opposed to a manager’s) number of working hours per week usually ranges from 36 to 40 hours, depending on the field of employment. The legal standard is a 40-hour week, but there are collective agreements for slightly shorter hours in some sectors. According to an EU study, the actual time spent in Italy’s workplaces averaged 38.5 hours in 2010. Together with overtime work, it should, however, never exceed 48 hours per week.
Extended lunch breaks of about two hours are becoming less widespread in Italy’s contemporary business world. Many Italians, though, still enjoy a long business lunch out of the office if the opportunity arises. It’s an important way of socializing with your colleagues and “talking shop” over a fine meal, so you shouldn’t affront your co-workers by avoiding these occasions.
Italy has a strong welfare state. In our guide to living in Rome, we have already described the Italian public healthcare system (servizio sanitario nazionale) at great length. Unless you decide to opt out of public health insurance, your employer in Rome will pay your SSN contributions for you.
Moreover, companies cover the bulk of your financial contributions to the state pension scheme. However, some of these pension contributions – 9.19% of the gross income – are paid by the employees themselves, and they are deducted directly from your paycheck.
Everyone who has started gainful employment and paying mandatory pension contributions after December 31st, 1995 is entitled to receive an old-age pension from the Italian government. They need to fulfill the following conditions, though:
- Be at least 66 or 62 years old (the minimum age for men and women differs slightly).
- Have made pension contributions for twenty years or more.
- Be no longer gainfully employed.
If you worked in Italy before the 1st of January, 1996, things are a little more complicated. This date is the cut-off point for a major reform of the national pension system; how this affects old-age pensions in Italy is, however, unfortunately beyond the scope of this article.
Social Security Agreements
If you are a national of an EU/EEA member state or if your country of origin has entered into a social security agreement with Italy, the pension contributions paid in Italy count towards your national pension back home. Any private pension plans are completely independent of this, of course.
In all other cases, you have to contact the INPS (Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale) to claim your Italian pension at the age of 70, provided you used to work in Italy for at least five years.
There are effective social security agreements between Italy and these countries:
- Argentina, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil
- Canada, the Cape Verde Islands, the Channel Islands, Croatia
- Israel, Macedonia, Mexico, Monaco
- San Marino, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey
- the US, Uruguay, Venezuela
Further Employee Benefits
In addition to the old-age pension, the INPS administers funds for sickness allowance and parental benefits, among other things. If you should fall ill during your time as an expat employee in Rome, you are entitled to sickness allowance, starting on the fourth day of your illness. Usually, the allowance amounts to one half or two thirds of your gross income. It is paid for up to 180 days a year.
As a pregnant female employee, you have the right to take maternity leave from your job in Rome. Indeed, you must stop working one or two months before the due date, and you aren’t supposed to return to work until your baby is three or four months old. During that time, you get 80% of your previous salary.
Both parents can take a total of 11 months of paid leave altogether, but after the initial five months, parental benefits are only 30% of the stay-at-home parent’s income. It’s different for self-employed women, who don’t have a right to the supplementary six months of paid maternal leave.
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