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Brexit: employment law between Italy and the UK

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) concluded on 24 December 2020 between the EU, Euratom and the UK marks a key step in the Brexit process.
With the TCA, the UK leaves EU rules and will no longer be able to enjoy the benefits of EU and single-market membership.
Therefore, as of 1 January 2021, the free movement of Italian citizens and workers in the UK and British citizens and workers in Italy will be severely restricted.
Below we offer a brief overview of the consequences of Brexit on free movement between the UK and the EU.

British citizens and workers in Italy

Citizens of the UK, as of 1 January 2021, will be treated as non-EU citizens and as a result the procedures provided for by the Consolidated Immigration Act (Legislative Decree no. 286/1998) will be applied to them.
Therefore, for stays in Italy of less than 90 days (within a total period of 180 days), an entry visa will not be required. For any stay of a longer duration and/or to carry out work activities in Italy, the following documents may be necessary: a work authorisation (nullaosta), a work visa from the Italian Embassy of the country of origin; the declaration of presence at the competent territorial Police Headquarters or Border Police; and an Italian residence permit.
The entry into Italy for reasons of subordinate work, including seasonal work and self-employment, must take place within the entry quotas established in the decrees (i.e. 'flow-decrees') that are periodically issued by the President of the Council of Ministers.
For particular categories that are specifically indicated (e.g. managers or highly specialised personnel of companies with headquarters or branches in Italy, etc.), entry of non-EU citizens for subordinate work is allowed outside the quotas established by the flow decrees.
British citizens and workers and their family members already present on Italian territory as of 31 December 2020, who are registered in the Registry Office of the municipality in which they work and have already obtained a "Registration Certificate" as of 1 January 2021, will be able to apply for residence permits in electronic format at the Police Headquarters responsible for their place of residence.
In the case of a regular stay of more than five continuous years on Italian territory, a "Permanent Residence Card" is issued, which is valid for ten years.
In the case of residence of less than five years, the "Residence Card" is issued with the wording "for residence", which is valid for five years and is renewable on expiry if the requirement of five years of regular and continuous residence in the national territory has been met.
British citizens who are not yet enrolled in the Registry by 31 December 2020, but who can prove their permanence on Italian territory at that date (e.g. by producing a work contract, certificate of enrolment in a course of study), may apply for the issuance of an electronic residence permit at the Police Headquarters of the province of residence.

Italian citizens and workers in the UK

From 1 January 2021, the TCA allows the entry of Italian citizens into the UK in Standard Visitor mode for stays equal to or less than six months if the following activities are carried out (i.e. as "Short-term business visitors"):

  • participation in meetings, conferences or consultations with business associates;
  • technical, scientific and statistical research, independently or for a legal entity;
  • market research or analysis;
  • participation in training seminars for professional reasons;
  • participation in trade fairs and exhibitions for promotional purposes;
  • purchasing, negotiating or selling services or goods by representatives;
  • participation in business transactions;
  • provision of after-sales or after-rental services or training;
  • Participation in business transactions;
  • assistance or participation in conventions by tour personnel;
  • translation or interpretation services.

While in Standard Visitor mode, the following is not allowed: carrying out subordinate work for a local company or self-employed work, paid or unpaid; living in an area for long periods of time; attending a course of study lasting more than six months.
For longer stays, it is possible to apply for the "Long-Term Standard Visitor Visa" with a validity of 2.5 or 10 years.
Italian citizens and their family members can benefit from the Settlement Status Scheme (SSS), a special free registration system set up by the British government, which guarantees their stay in the UK after Brexit.
This tool allows Italian citizens residing in the UK before 31 December 2020 to continue to reside there and benefit from their acquired rights.
The deadline for requesting participation in the SSS has been extended until 30 June 2021.
The procedure requires proof of identity and continuous residence in the UK (except in the case of a permanent residence document or leave to remain), also by means of an annual bank statement showing at least six months of movements in the UK, or by means of a communication from the employer attesting to the existence of an employment relationship, or by means of a communication or certificate from a university or other accredited organisation attesting to the date of enrolment, attendance and completion of a course of study.
Citizens with dual Italian-UK citizenship are not eligible for "Settled Status" registration.
Italian citizens who were not residents in the UK on 31 December 2020 must apply for the "Skilled Worker Visa", which is based on a points system. At least 70 points will be required, to be obtained through the possession of certain requirements, such as an offer of employment for skilled jobs (i.e. jobs requiring a diploma); knowledge of the English language; exceeding a minimum threshold of salary, etc.
The Intra-Company Transfer Visa (ICT), on the other hand, applies to employees of Italian companies who are seconded to a UK subsidiary or branch of the Group, either for long periods or for frequent short-term visits.
From 1 January 2021, frontier workers, upon presentation of suitable documentation to prove that they carried out an economic activity in Italy before 31 December 2020, will be able to apply to Police Headquarters for an electronic document, valid for five years, certifying their status.

Social Security Coordination

The TCA also contains important innovations about the coordination of social security systems between the UK and EU.
In fact, the agreement guarantees the rights of citizens of the EU and UK who work, travel or move to the UK or EU after 1 January 2021.
With the Social Security Coordination Protocol annexed to the TCA, a specific discipline has been introduced, which will require ratification by individual member states in order to enter into force. The Protocol applies to almost all areas of social security (e.g. illness, maternity, paternity, disability, old age, seniority, survivors, unemployment, etc.) with the exclusion of medical and social-health assistance.
The general principle is lex loci laboris, whereby contributions will be paid in the country where the work is carried out with the result that Italian workers posted to the UK will be subject to UK social security legislation.
EU-UK postings will be handled similarly to Italian postings in the EU. In the event that workers are posted to the UK by an Italian employer (or vice versa), the Protocol allows for the application of the social security system of the country of origin, on condition that the duration of the posting does not exceed 24 months and that the worker is not sent to replace another worker already posted.
Finally, workers who work in two or more countries (i.e. multi-status workers) will be subject to the social security system of the country where they reside and carry out a substantial part of their activity.


Portrait of Fabrizio Spagnolo
Fabrizio Spagnolo
Portrait of Federico Pisani
Federico Pisani
Senior Associate