Age Discrimination in Italy

​A high level outline of the obligations that apply in relation to age discrimination in Italy.

Is age discrimination unlawful?

Yes. EU 2000/78 Directive was implemented on 09 July 2003 by Legislative Decree 216/2003.

What is unlawful discrimination?

The law prohibits:

  • direct discrimination
  • indirect discrimination
  • harassment, and
  • victimisation.

It is also unlawful to issue instructions to discriminate on the ground of age.

When is discrimination prohibited?

Discrimination is prohibited in relation to:

  • recruitment (which may include the advertisement of vacancies but there is no specific case law on the point)
  • terms of employment
  • opportunities for promotion, training and pay, and
  • dismissal.

Can discrimination be justified?

Both direct and indirect discrimination can be justified if it is for an essential requirement connected to the type of activity or context in which it is carried out. It is, therefore, lawful to use an age requirement if this is a genuine and determining occupational requirement.

Who must not discriminate?

The law applies to all employers irrespective of the business carried out by the employer. It applies to both the private and public sector.

Who is protected?

The law protects all workers irrespective of their age and, therefore, protects both older and younger workers.

Length of service criteria

It may be possible to justify using length of service in setting benefits if this is an essential and proportional professional requirement.

In practice, length of service is frequently used across various sectors by employers and in collective labour agreements to determine a number of terms and conditions of employment (for example, notice periods).

Retirement ages and procedures

Employees cannot be forced to retire before they have fulfilled the criteria for "old age" or "early" retirement.

Retirement at the employee’s initiative

Employees can opt for early retirement if eligible, decide to retire when he/she has met the age requirements or continue to work until the age of 70 (men or women) if they do not want to retire yet.

Protection against dismissal

It is unlawful to dismiss an employee because of their age. An act or an agreement based on such grounds is void and ineffective.

Discriminatory agreements

Any discriminatory terms or conditions in an agreement are null and void. Any contractual terms which purport to exclude an employee’s right not to be discriminated against are unlawful unless in a compromise agreement.

Enforcement and penalties

Individuals who have been subject to discrimination can bring a claim directly under the legislation as can a trade union representative acting on their behalf. In addition, if it is not possible to identify the individual victims of discrimination, trade unions may bring a “collective discrimination” claim against an employer.

Recommended steps

General steps that employers may wish to consider at this stage include:

  • training for employees on equal treatment and discrimination, and
  • review of recruitment, training and other workplace policies, including the implementation of a company policy promoting non-discriminatory behaviour and working with respect for others.
  • Further information on Age discrimination in Italy is available from our International Employment Issues microsite here.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.