It isn’t usually difficult to determine the salary you should command in Italy, where salaries in most industries are decided by collective bargaining between employers and unions. Agreements specify minimum wage (see page 40) levels for each position within main employment categories in a particular industry or company. This means that wage levels are effectively fixed, although it also ensures that they keep pace with inflation. When there’s a collective agreement, employers must offer at least the minimum wage agreed, although these are exceeded by most major companies. However, salaries vary considerably for the same job in different regions of Italy. Those working in Milan and other northern cities are generally the highest paid, primarily due to the high cost of living, particularly accommodation. Women are generally paid less than men, even when they’re doing the same job.
Most employees in Italy receive an extra month’s salary at Christmas, known as the 13th month’s salary (tredicesima mesilità) or a Christmas bonus (gratifica natalizia), and many employees also receive a 14th month’s salary (quattordicesima mesilità) prior to the summer holiday period. Some employees, such as those in the banking and petroleum industries, even receive 15th and 16th months’ salary!
If you’re able to negotiate your own salary you should ensure that you receive the salary and benefits commensurate with your qualifications and experience (or as much as you can get!). If you have friends or acquaintances working in Italy or who have worked there, ask them what an average or good salary is for your particular trade or profession. When comparing salaries you must take into account compulsory deductions such as tax and social security, and also compare the cost of living (see page 321). Italian salaries for executives and managers compare favourably with other western countries and are among the highest in Europe, although wages are below average for many other workers. In recent years, university graduates and school-leavers have had to accept almost any wage in order to get a foot on the career ladder.
Salaries are generally similar to those in Britain, but lower than those in the USA. In the managerial category, staff may receive from €2,900 per month, office staff receive from around €1,300 per month, while manual workers receive from €1,100 and agricultural workers around €1,600. A foreign executive may find that his salary is much higher in Italy. Italian executive salaries were lower than the international average in the 1970s and 1980s, but have since caught up and even surpassed some of their competitors. Executive salaries rose much faster than the rate of inflation over the last few decades and are augmented by lucrative bonuses and profit-sharing schemes.
For many employees, particularly executives and senior managers, their remuneration is much more than what they receive in their monthly pay packets. Many companies offer a range of benefits for executives and managers that may include a company car (although rare in Italy), private health insurance and health screening, expenses-paid holidays, private school fees, inexpensive or interest-free home and other loans, rent-free accommodation, free or subsidised public transport tickets, free or subsidised company restaurant, sports or country club membership, non-contributory company pension, stock options, bonuses and profit-sharing schemes, tickets for sports events and shows, and ‘business’ conferences in exotic places.
This excerpt has been republished with permission from Survival Books. Some of the information may apply to EU citizens only. If you would like to get the inside track on moving to Italy, pick up your copy of this great book by clicking here.