Workers may qualify for illness allowance when they fall ill and are temporarily incapacitated for work, which should be understood as their specific job.
Illness allowance may be granted to:
- industry workmen;
- tertiary and service sector workmen and employees;
- agricultural workers;
- unemployed workers;
- suspended workers;
- entertainment workers;
- maritime workers.
Illness allowance cannot be granted to (including but not limited to):
- household workers (cleaning ladies and carers);
- industry employees;
- front-line managers (industry and artisan);
- self-employed workers.
START DATE AND DURATION
Most workers may be entitled to illness allowance from the fourth day they have been ill (the first three days are considered days of 'absence' and if provided for under the employment agreement, these may be covered entirely by the company). The worker will be entitled to illness allowance until the end of the prognosis period (as soon as they are no longer ill). Evidence for illness may be provided in the form of one or more certificates.
Illness allowance may also be granted, provided that a suitable certificate can be provided, to cover periods of illness in which the employee is ordinarily hospitalised or admitted as a day patient.
Industry workmen and tertiary and service sector workmen and employees on permanent contracts may be entitled to illness allowance for every day covered by a suitable certificate and for up 180 days in the calendar year. For those on fixed-term contracts, illness allowance may be granted for every day covered by a suitable certificate, for up to the same number of days as worked in the 12 months immediately prior to the start of the illness, for no less than 30 days and no more than 180 days in the calendar year. The worker will no longer be entitled to illness allowance on termination of employment, even if terminated prior to the end of their contract. Employers cannot pay the allowance for a higher number of days than days that the worker has worked as their employee. The remaining days will be covered directly by the INPS.
Agricultural workers on permanent contracts may be entitled to illness allowance for every day covered by a suitable certificate and for no more than 180 days in the calendar year, provided that they have effectively started to work. Agricultural workers on fixed-term contracts may be entitled to illness allowance for every day covered by a suitable certificate, only when they have undertaken at least 51 days of work in agriculture in the previous year (any days worked on permanent contracts in the same agricultural sector are also valid) or 51 days in the current year and prior to the start of the illness. Illness allowance is paid out for the same number of days as days that the worker has been registered on the lists of agricultural workers and for no more than 180 days in the calendar year.
The terms and conditions that apply to workers also apply to apprentices working in the same sector. As such, where applicable, illness allowance is paid for every day covered by a suitable certificate and for no more than 180 days in the calendar year.
In the case of unemployed and suspended workers on permanent contracts, illness allowance may be granted for every day covered by a suitable certificate and for no more than 180 days in the calendar year, provided that the illness began within 60 days or two months from when their employment was terminated or they were suspended.
For maritime workers and fishermen insured under the former IPSEMA (INPS Circular No 179 of 23 December 2013), the allowance for temporary total incapacity for work due to on-board illness (inabilità temporanea assoluta per malattia fondamentale) may be paid out from the day after the worker is obliged to disembark, for every day of the prognosis (including Sundays) and for up to one year. If the illness manifests itself within 28 days of disembarkation, in the case of seamen who have disembarked from vessels belonging to specific categories stipulated by the law, the allowance for temporary total incapacity for illness post-disembarkation (inabilità temporanea assoluta per malattia complementare) may be paid out from the fourth day after the date that the situation was reported and for up to one year. If the illness manifests itself after 28 days but before 180 days from disembarkation, maritime workers who are in ongoing employment will be granted the allowance for temporary incapacity for work due to illness, which is paid out from the fourth day after the day that the illness is reported and for no more than 180 days.
WHAT AM I ENTITLED TO?
In general, illness allowance is paid to employees at 50% of their average daily wages from the 4th to the 20th day and at 66.66% from the 21st to the 180th day.
For employees of commercial concerns and bakeries, illness allowance is paid at 80% of their wages for the entire sick leave.
For unemployed and suspended workers, illness allowance is reduced to two thirds of the percentage stipulated.
In the case employees who are hospitalised and who have no dependent family members, the allowance is reduced to 2/5 for the entire duration of the hospital stay, excluding the day that they are discharged, when the pay is granted in full based on the percentages listed above.
For maritime workers:
- in the event of on-board illness that obliges the worker to disembark, the allowance is paid at 75% of the wages received at the time of disembarkation;
- in the event of illness post-disembarkation, the allowance is paid at 75% of the wages received at the last disembarkation;
- for workers in ongoing employment who fall ill, illness allowance will be paid at 50% for the first 20 days and at 66.66% from the 21st to the 180th day of the wages effectively received at the time the illness manifested itself.
To qualify for illness allowance, workers must request an illness certificate from their GP, who will then submit it electronically to the INPS. Workers must make sure to thoroughly check that their personal and contact details that the doctor has entered are correct, to ensure that they do not face any sanctions stipulated by the law.
With the electronic illness certificate, the worker is discharged from the obligation to send the illness certificate to their employer, as the employer will receive it and be able to view it using the services provided by the INPS.
In the event that electronic submission of the illness certificate is not possible, workers must ask their GP to issue the illness certificate in paper form. In this case, the worker in question must hand in or send the illness certificate to the competent INPS regional office and the statement of sickness to their employer no later than two days after the issue date of the illness certificate to avoid facing legal sanctions, which constitute the loss of entitlement to illness allowance for every day of unjustified delay in sending the illness certificate after these two days have elapsed.
Similarly, maritime workers and fishermen insured under the former IPSEMA must also hand in or send the illness certificate to the INPS within two days of the issue date.
Hospitals are also required to submit certificates of hospital admission and illness certificates electronically. However, if certificates are issued in paper form, these must be handed in or sent by the worker to the competent INPS regional office and to their employer (without details of the diagnosis). Paper certificates of hospital admission (but not post-admission illness certificates) may be submitted to the INPS regional office even two days after the issue date, but in any case within one year of entitlement to the benefit. Certificates of hospital admission and certificates for day patients admitted to accident and emergency with no details of diagnosis are not considered certificates for establishing entitlement to the social security benefit.
For the category of maritime workers and fishermen who are entitled to support for illness under the former IPSEMA, illness certificates must be submitted by the worker. In order to calculate the allowance, employers must send the declaration of wages paid to the worker during the period in question, according to the specific benefit being claimed.
To qualify for illness allowance, the worker must be present at their home address during the hours stipulated by law for home visits by an inspector to verify that the worker is effectively temporarily incapacitated for work. For every day specified on the illness certificate (including Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays), the worker must be present at their home address for an inspector's visit from 10 am to 12 pm and from 5 pm to 7 pm.
If the worker is absent during the inspector's home visit, and this is not justified, sanctions will apply, with the worker receiving reduced pay for sick days:
- for up to 10 calendar days, from the start of the illness, for the first unjustified absence during the inspector's home visit;
- by way of 50% of the illness allowance for the remaining sick leave, for the second unjustified absence during the inspector's home visit;
- by way of the full amount of illness allowance, to come into effect from the date of the third unjustified absence during the inspector's home visit.
On finding the worker absent during the home visit, the health inspector will leave an invitation in a sealed envelope for the worker to come for an in-clinic health check. If the worker is absent for the in-clinic appointment, this may give rise to sanctions for the second home visit.
During the prognosis period specified on the illness certificate, where strictly necessary, the worker may change their contact address, notifying the INPS (and their employer) promptly and in good time by using one of the following methods (Message No 1290 of 22 January 2013):
- by email to firstname.lastname@example.org;
- by sending a specific notice to the fax number of the regional office in question;
- by calling the contact centre (on the freephone number 803 164 [free for landline calls from Italy]).
If a worker falls ill in a country in the European Union, under the regulations in force, legislation of the country in which the insured worker resides shall apply. The worker must therefore hand in an illness certificate to the INPS and to their employer within two days of it being issued. Otherwise, they may go through their local competent authority, which will arrange a medical examination of the worker's incapacity for work and will draw up an illness certificate to be sent immediately to the competent institute.
If a worker falls ill in countries with no arrangement or agreement governing the matter with Italy or in non-EU countries, the illness certificate must be legalised by the Italian overseas diplomatic mission or consular post. 'Legalisation' means attesting, also by means of a stamp, that the document is valid as an illness certificate in accordance with local provisions. Certification of the authenticity of the authorised translator's signature alone does not does not constitute 'legalisation'.