There have always been significant cultural differences between America and Italy, differences that can be seen reflected in their approaches towards the process of hiring and firing employees. These differences could be attributed to various factors, such as labor unions, political ideologies, or economic systems that may have shaped the economic cultures of both countries. A result of these various influences is that the two countries approach the hiring and firing process from very different perspectives, with the America view tilted towards favoring the employer and the Italian view more inclined towards supporting the employee.
Regarding contracts in America, the majority of employment contracts are considered at-will unless stated otherwise within the contract. This means that the employer can fire employees at any time without the need to prove “just cause,” placing all the power in the hands of the employer. Provided the employer avoids any discriminatory or illegal actions during the firing process, they do not have to give any warning to the employee being fired or any justification for termination. All US states practice at-will contracts, but various restrictions can differ within states. The only state that has real material restrictions on at-will clauses is Montana, which only allows at-will clauses to apply for the first six months of employment, after which their contract would transform into a more secure position with stipulated amounts of compensation and notice. In the US, it is typical for employers to give the employee a 90-day probationary period, after which they will either be kept on full time or terminated. Employees also have the ability to quit at any time without giving a warning.
On the other hand, in Italy, the typical employment agreement is an indefinite-term contract, which places considerably much more power in the hands of the employee. The indefinite-term contract and its termination are regulated by Italian law, specifically by the Italian Statute of Workers L 300/1970, D.Lgs. 368/2001, by the CD Jobs Act Legislative Decree 23/2015, and the so-called Dignity Decree D.L. 87/2018 and subsequent modifications. The indefinite-term employment contract is also regulated by collective economic agreements with specific provisions depending on the sector to which the company belongs. The employer is free to insert a maximum probationary period of six months. Once the period has expired, the employee is considered a subordinate worker, meaning the contract can only be terminated for just cause, justified subjective reason, or justified objective reason.
Just cause for termination is when the employee commits a serious offense that merits disciplinary sanctions. In this case, the employer does not have to pay the employee beyond the termination date or even provide a notice period before termination. The employee is entitled to the TFR (Trattamento di Fine Rapporto) and all the end-of-employment benefits, which consist of a calculated payment based on their yearly salary and years under employ. Justified subjective reason for termination applies when the employee commits an offense of lesser gravity than those specified in the just cause provision. In this case, the employer must pay the employee through a notice period in addition to the amounts due as TFR and end-of-employment benefits. Justified objective reason may for termination be used in cases of dismissal for economic reasons or company restructuring. In these cases, the employee is due the notice period pay, TFR payment, and end-of-employment benefits – a stark contrast from the American at-will contracts.