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Italy: Preparing for the return to work and the "next normal"

07 April 2021
Our employment experts in Italy answer key questions in relation to working from home and the future world of work.
In response to the pandemic, restrictions have been implemented internationally, often including the requirement to work from home where possible. As the vaccination programme is underway and restrictions are cautiously reviewed, we consider what the future world of work may look like and whether home working is here to stay.  
Do employees have a right to continue working from home after the lockdown restrictions have lifted?

No, employees are not entitled to claim the "right to remote working". However, smart working is still considered today a tool for containing the spread of the virus (it is recommended by a protocol signed by the government and the unions).

It is unlikely that, at the end of the health emergency period, such "right to agile work" will be introduced. We expect that remote working will continue to be ruled by individual agreements between employers and employees.

Should employers have a policy dealing with home working and what are the key points?

The smart working mode, until the end of the COVID-19 epidemiological emergency status (extended to 30 April 2021), can be implemented without individual agreements. Once the emergency status is over, a prior written agreement between the employer and the employee will be required. 

In order to avoid possible claims about the employer's refusal to accept the smart working individual agreement, a company policy (setting the pre-requisites for the approval) is recommended.

A company policy would be useful to predetermine the cases in which it is not possible to grant smart working (for example due to the type of activity carried out) and to limit possible claims for discrimination.

Can an employer require employees to work entirely or predominantly from home? Is employee consent required? What are the main risks?

As a general rule, outside the context of the COVID-19 epidemiological emergency, agile work requires a prior written agreement between the employer and employee. If the employer does not obtain the employee's approval, it will not be entitled to force him or her to work on an agile basis.

As a matter of exception, during the emergency status, employers are entitled to force employees to work entirely or predominantly from home. Once the COVID-19 emergency status is over, it is reasonable to assume that the ordinary provisions will return in force.

Do employees have any entitlement to allowances/benefits if required to work from home?
No, Italian legislation does not provide for bonuses/benefits for employees who carry out work in smart mode. We expect some new rules on the issue, as a result of the negotiation with the unions.
What are the key trends in relation to home working?

We are facing a new trend, with the involvement of the unions in setting up, by means of company level bargaining agreement, applicable remote-working rules.

Considering that the Italian piece of legislation requires an individual agreement between the employer and the employee, the unions are trying to reduce the risk of unequal treatment between employees of the same company.

Get an insight into the current situation in other jurisdictions from our global legal team.


DWF Return to Work Hub

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