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Clarifications on the employment of foreign workers through staffing agencies

The Italian Government provides details on the applications of work permit by staffing agencies for entry and employment of non-EU workers.

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The Italian government has recently provided important operational guidance regarding the submission of work permit applications, by staffing agencies, for the purpose of entry and employment of non-EU workers residing abroad.

Can staffing agencies employ non-EU citizens residing abroad?

Yes. Employment agencies, provided for in Article 4, paragraph 1, letters a) and b) of Legislative Decree September 10, 2003, no. 276, duly registered in the Informational Register of Employment Agencies (APL) governed by the same article 4, with registered office or operational headquarters in the territory of the Italian state, may submit a work permit application to invite non-EU workers residing abroad, for the purpose of establishing with them in Italy a subordinate employment relationship, for a fixed-term or indefinite term, in compliance with the conditions and requirements provided for by the Italian Consolidated Immigration Act and its implementing regulations.

New informative memo

With a memo dated Aug. 10, 2023, the Ministry of the Interior, in consultation with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, provides some operational clarifications regarding work permit applications governed by Articles 22, 23, 24, 27 (where applicable) and 27-quater of the Consolidated Immigration Act and Articles 30-bis, 34 and 40 (where applicable) of its Implementing Regulations.

Such work permit requests may be submitted to the local Immigration Offices by staffing agencies and their representative national associations.

Characteristics of the employment relationship

First of all, the informative memo refers to the characterizing aspects of the relationship between the staffing agency, the worker and the user, as outlined by Legislative Decree No. 81/2025.

Essentially, a contract of employment is entered into between the staffing agency and the worker. This work relationship is subject to the employment agency’s collective bargaining agreement – appropriately supplemented by the collective bargaining agreement applied by the user entity – in implementation of the principle of non-discrimination referred to in Article 35, paragraph 1, of Legislative Decree No. 81/2015, by virtue of which the outsourced workers are entitled to economic and regulatory conditions that are not inferior to those recognized to employees directly hired by the user, with the same level and for the same tasks performed.

On the basis of the commercial contract concluded between the agency and the user, the agency makes available to the user one or more of its employees who are sent on a mission and carry out their activities at the user, as provided for in Article 30 of Legislative Decree No. 81/2015.

Duration of the employment relationship

The employment relationship with staffing agencies can be either permanent or with fixed-term.

As defined in Article 34 of Legislative Decree 81/2015 (and its further modifications), in the case of permanent employment, the employment relationship between the staffing agency and the employee is subject to the regulations provided for permanent employment.

In the case of fixed-term employment, on the other hand, the employment relationship between the staffing agency and the employee is subject to the rules set forth in Chapter III of Legislative Decree 81/2015 (i.e., the rules on fixed-term contracts), with the exclusion only of the provisions of Articles 21(2), 23 and 24 regarding:

  • Period of interval between two fixed-term contracts
  • Total number of fixed-term contracts (20% limit)
  • Right of precedence in permanent hiring.

Procedure for sending work permit applications

In the cases described above, therefore, staffing agencies are considered employers and can therefore submit applications for work authorization for the entry of non-EU citizens, pursuant to Articles 22, 23, 24, 27, paragraph 1, letter r), 27, paragraph 1, letter r-bis, 27-quater of the Consolidated Immigration Act.

These applications are filled out electronically through the specific website made available by the Ministry of the Interior. In order to access the portal, it is necessary to be in possession of the appropriate digital identity (SPID) and use the appropriate application form for the specific case, which must be correctly filled out in all its fields.

The employer has the option of delegating a professional for the work application submission and Studio Arletti & Partners can support throughout the process.

Necessary requirements for the application submission

Among the requirements for a correct work permit application submission, the following data of the employer should be reported:

  • Registered office and/or operational headquarters in the territory of the Italian state, tax code/VAT number, INPS number, INAIL code
  • ANPAL registration
  • Contract proposal indicating the CCNL of staffing agencies applied (duties, classification, level, type of contract, duration of the contract, weekly working hours)
  • Gross monthly salary (not less than what is stipulated in the national collective contract for the category applied)
  • Place of work
  • Self-certification of earning capacity
  • Evidence of regular payment of social security and welfare contributions in compliance with the obligations under the collective bargaining agreement for staffing agencies
  • Commitment to communicate the employment relationship start and/or any changes concerning the employment relationship in the manner provided for the mandatory communications to be sent to the competent services (Unified Somm. model) pursuant to the Interministerial Decree of 30.10.2007
  • Commitment to the transmission of the Unified Somm form also to the Immigration Office
  • Commitment to the signing of the contract of stay for subordinate work as per Article 5-bis of the Consolidated Immigration Act, containing: a) indication of the worker’s housing accommodation, which must fall within the minimum parameters provided by the regional law for public housing or be provided with the requirements of habitability and hygienic-sanitary suitability ; b) commitment to the payment of the expenses of the worker’s return trip to the country of origin in the case of forced expulsion

“In-quota” entries

The memo then clarifies that, in the specific hypothesis of cases falling within the quotas determined by the governmental Decree for the programming of entry flows (ex art. 1, co. 1, of Decree Law March 10, 2023, no. 20, converted by Law May 5, 2023, no. 50), the staffing agency must produce the contract of employment of the hired workers, relating to each application submitted, to users falling within the productive sectors as identified by the so-called Decree flows itself.

It should also be noted that the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy proceeds to yearly monitor information on staffing agencies labor relations with non-EU personnel, contained in the “Unified Somm Form,” using data from the Statistical Information System of Mandatory Communications. In the survey, in addition to the beginning of the employment relationship with the staffing agency, “missions” describing the destination of employment relationships (user company) are also considered.

Therefore, the place of work is defined as the headquarters of the user firm, the work start date as the beginning of the mission at the user firm, and the economic sector that of the user firm.

With regards to “in-quota” applications, the provisions of Articles 22 and 24 bis, of Legislative Decree No. 286/1998, as amended by Article 2 of Decree Law No. 20/2023, converted by Law No. 50/2023, are also applied, which provide for a simplification of the immigration process through the involvement of the professionals referred to in Article 1 of Law No. 12 /1979 and the employers’ organizations comparatively more representative at the national level, in the verification of the prerequisites required by Legislative Decree No. 286/1998 and Presidential Decree No. 394/1999, in the light of the guidelines on asseveration that the National Labor Inspectorate issued in Circular No. 3/2022 of July 5, 2022, as recalled by the subsequent Circular No. 2066 of March 21, 2023.

Simplified procedure available for certain employers

The submission of the asseveration – at the stage of signing the residence contract at the Single Desk for Immigration – is not required in the case of applications submitted by employer organizations to which the employer adheres or mandates, which have signed a special Agreement with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, by which they undertake to ensure compliance by their members with the requirements concerning compliance with the requirements of collective agreements and the appropriateness of applications under the flow decree in relation to economic capacity, for the purpose of granting authorization for employment related to non-EU citizens.

This Agreement, signed on August 3, 2022 by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy with some of the comparatively most representative employers’ organizations nationwide, provides for the possibility of subsequent accessions of other employers’ organizations as well.

In the hypothesis of the signing of the aforementioned Agreement, Article 27, paragraph 1-ter, of Legislative Decree No. 286/1998 applies, according to which, “the work authorization for foreigners is replaced by a communication from the employer of the proposed contract of stay for subordinate work.”

Thus, this simplified procedure provides for a mere communication to the Immigration Office of the proposed labor contract with the issuance of the opinion of the Police Headquarters only.

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Regulatory Framework

Circular of August 10, 2023

Reference (Italian only)

Law Decree 81/2015

Reference (Italian only)

Law Decree 286/1998

Reference (Italian only)

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