Labor Law

Minimum wage and average salaries in Italy

Italy has no minimum wage but protects workers through collective agreements. Learn about the average salaries, gender pay gap, and wages for internationals.

minimum wage italy

By Gary Buswell

Updated 14-3-2024

With one of the biggest European economies, Italy is a popular country for internationals seeking employment. It has several thriving industries, including tourism, hospitality, and car manufacturing, with strong labor laws protecting workers. Although the country does not set a legal minimum wage, collective agreements protect employees’ earnings in many industries.

Here’s all you need to know about wages and salaries in Italy, with sections on:

Minimum wage in Italy

Italy is one of only six countries in the European Union (EU) without a statutory minimum wage. However, the Italian Constitution includes workers’ rights to a liveable wage for them and their families (sect. 36). Still, the details of this have never been set out in law. Instead, national collective agreements (contrattazione collettiva nazionale di lavoro – CCNL) protect around 95% of workers in Italy across many industries. This doesn’t cover all sectors, and not all of these agreements include salaries. Because of this, Italy has one of the highest proportions of the ‘working poor’ in the EU.

A barista chats to a customer while handing them their coffee over the counter
Photo: Andrea Piacquadio/ Pexels

There have been moves by some political parties in Italy to introduce a minimum wage (salario minimo) in Italy in line with EU standards. A minimum wage bill was put forward in parliament in 2019, looking to set a national minimum of around €9/hour, but this has yet to succeed. Separate research has suggested a minimum wage in Italy of between €8.25–9.65/hour.

The current Italian wage rates, protected by collective bargaining, are adjusted annually according to inflation and are usually renegotiated every few years. You can check the details of existing agreements here (in Italian). Minimums set at 2015 agreement rates range from €7.70/hour (agriculture and mining) to €12.95/hour (finance and insurance). In addition to collective agreements, individuals can take employers to court and ask a judge to fix a minimum wage. However, this type of ruling is only binding on individual employment contracts.

Similar to wages, employers also set minimum annual leave in Italy through a collective bargaining process. The current minimum for most sectors is four weeks per year. However, the country follows the EU law stipulation to set the maximum number of hours in a working week (48).

What is the average Italian salary?

According to the most recent figures by the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istituto Nazionale di StatisticaIstat), the average gross salary for employees in Italy was €41,081 in 2020. This figure consists of the total gross wage bill per employee and includes tax payments, social security contributions, and non-cash employee benefits, such as:

  • Holiday pay
  • Sick pay
  • Travel allowances
  • Training costs

Data from Eurostat states that the average gross salary minus social contributions was around €30,000 in 2021.

Italian salaries (€48,103) are lower than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average of $51,607 (2021). According to the OECD data, the current average salary in Italy is also slightly lower than in 2010.

Regarding net incomes, OECD data shows that the average Italian household has $29,431 (€27,399) disposable income per year after taxes and living expenses. Again, this is slightly below the OECD average of $30,490 (€28,385).

By sector

Salaries in Italy vary between job sectors as well as within industries. The most recent earnings report (2020) by Istat shows that average gross wages plus social contributions are highest in industrial sectors (€44,176) and lowest in construction (€37,568). However, on average, employees work more hours on in industrial jobs than in the service sector.

Doctors in the healthcare sector in Italy discussing a patient file in an empty hospital reception area
Photo: Eugenio Marongiu/ Getty Images

According to the Salary Explorer website, average gross monthly earnings across some of the main job sectors in Italy are:

  • Healthcare: between €2,880 and €8,730
  • Legal: between €2,030 and €7,500
  • Accounting/finance: between €1,830 and €7,390
  • IT: between €2,880 and €6,550
  • Journalist: around €4,460
  • Engineering: between €3,390 and €3,860
  • Advertising/design: between €2,170 and €3,730
  • Retail: between €1,410 and €6,670
  • Construction: between €1,620 and €6,220
  • Hospitality: between €1,240 and €6,650
  • Teaching: between €2,630 and €2,970
  • Automotive: between €1,410 and €2,630
  • Child care: between €1,440 and €1,590

Figures on the website also show that public sector employees earn 5% more on average than private sector workers.

By job level

As in most countries, you can expect to earn much more in managerial positions than in entry-level roles. However, wage differentials vary across industries. According to Salary Explorer, you can expect to earn the following gross income per month, on average, in 2023:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO): €8,480
  • Senior Manager: €6,330
  • Project Manager: €4,180
  • Office Manager: €3,230
  • Admin Assistant: €2,020
  • Receptionist: €1,810
  • Mechanic: €1,410
  • Customer Service Worker: €1,360

Earnings also vary considerably according to educational attainment in Italy. Households – where the primary income earner has university qualifications – earn nearly twice as much as those where the main earner has either school or no qualifications. On average, self-employed workers make over 2% more than employed workers in Italy.

By region

There have long been regional disparities in earnings in Italy, with those in the south of the country earning less. According to 2020 Istat figures, the average net annual household income is 19–22% lower than the national average for different household sizes.

A street and market in Bologna, Italy ( Mercato della Piazzola)
Mercato della Piazzola, Bologna, Italy (Photo: Buena Vista Images/Getty Images)

In order of earnings, from highest to lowest, the regions rank as follows:

  • The northwest
  • The northeast
  • The center
  • The islands
  • The south

Bolzano is the highest-earning city (€42,216 annual net household income), with Campania the lowest (€26,552).

According to Salary Explorer, average gross salaries in some of the bigger Italian cities include:

  • Bologna: €3,850
  • Milan (Milano): €4,220
  • Naples (Napoli): €4,150
  • Parma: €3,670
  • Rome (Roma): €4,300

Italian salary checker

There are many salary checker websites, for example, Glassdoor, where you can check what salary you are likely to earn and compare it to other wages.

Gender pay gap in Italy

Istat published a structure of earnings report in 2021 focusing on the gender pay gap in Italy. Based on 2018 earnings, the report found that gross annual incomes were €37,912 for men and €31,335 for women. This equates to a gender pay gap of 6.2%. The gap increases among more highly skilled and educated groups, reaching 18% for those with tertiary education and 27.3% for managerial staff.

However, the gender pay gap in Italy is lower than the EU average of 13%. In fact, Italy ranks 4th among EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) nations, behind Luxembourg, Romania, and Slovenia.

The lower pay gap is largely due to Italy’s higher-than-average female unemployment rate and a lower overall wage. Italy ranks well below average when it comes to women’s overall income and economic position. Statistics from the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2022 Global Gender Gap Report (GGGR) highlight that Italy places 96th globally for total earned income and 110th for economic participation and opportunity. Only 11.5% of Italian companies are majority female-led.

Pilots - one male, one female - in the cockpit of an airliner
Photo: Digital Vision/Getty Images

Problems include the persistence of gender stereotypes regarding financial provision, with many still seeing the woman’s role as a housewife and caregiver rather than an economic provider. These attitudes are more prevalent in the south of the country. Fortunately, there is an indication of progress. Italy ranks 16th on the 2022 Glass Ceiling Index, just above the OECD average, showing some removal of barriers and increased opportunities. The government also introduced an equal pay law in 2022 aimed to reduce the pay gap.

Salaries and wages for international workers in Italy

Italy has around 2.3 million foreign workers, around 10% of the total workforce. The distribution of international workers is spread across sectors and job levels. According to the Italian government’s latest annual report on foreigners in the labor market (2021), the sectors with the highest percentages of expat workers are:

  • Collective and personal services: 34.3%
  • Agriculture: 18%
  • Construction: 15.5%
  • Hotels and restaurants: 15.3%

Immigrants have higher rates of unemployment and poverty in Italy than the general population and are more likely to be in lower-paid or insecure employment. However, there are many good opportunities for highly-skilled international workers. Work visas in Italy include:

  • The EU Blue Card
  • Research visas
  • Salaried employment for high-skilled employees

If you’re looking for a job in Italy, the bigger cities such as Rome, Milan, Naples, and Florence have many expat opportunities. Good sectors for skilled or qualified internationals include:

  • Financial services
  • Engineering
  • Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology
  • Fashion
  • IT
  • Healthcare

What can you do if your salary is too low?

Although most workers in Italy have their wages protected by collective agreements, this doesn’t always happen in practice. As such, an estimated 10% of workers in wage-protected sectors are paid around 20% less than the agreed minimums.

If your wage is below the agreed minimum wage for your sector, or you feel you are not sufficiently paid for your work, you should first speak to your employer. If you are still unhappy with the outcome, you should talk to a trade union (sindacato) representative or your local public labor office (centri per l’impiego).

The biggest labor unions in Italy are:

The next step is to take your employer to a labor court (tribunale del lavoro). These courts operate within Italy’s civil court (corte civile) structure, which you can access for various employment disputes. You may need to get legal help for this. If the judge rules in your favor, the employer must set your wage at an amount fixed by the judge. In addition, the employer may have to pay a fine, damages, and/or legal costs.

If the labor court rules against you, you can take the case to the Court of Appeal (Corte d’Appello) and, eventually, the Supreme Court (Corte Suprema di Cassazione). However, bear in mind that this can be an expensive process if you lose. Because of this, it’s advisable to seek sound legal advice from an employment law specialist in Italy.

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