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Newsletter: April 24, 2024

Welcome to the latest edition of our newsletter! Our goal is to ensure that you are well informed and equipped with the latest information.

Read on to stay ahead, stay compliant, and set the course for success.

Italy has Launched its Digital Nomad Visa: Here’s Who is Eligible and How to Apply

Now, you can fulfill your dream of living and working remotely in Italy with the newly launched Digital Nomad Visa. Designed specifically for remote workers, Italy has long recognised the attraction of the beautiful country for travellers. The law permitting the new visa was signed on March 28, 2022, and became effective on April 4, 2024.

Managed under Article 27 of Italy’s Immigration Code, the Digital Nomad Visa is open for all non-EU citizens with an annual income at least three-times the minimum required to be exempt from participating in Italy’s healthcare costs. This means the visa aspirant’s annual income should be at least €28,000.

The Digital Nomad Visa is valid for 365 days from the start date and is available for remote employees and self-employed freelancers who qualify as “highly skilled” workers. This makes university graduates and people with a minimum of 5 years of professional experience eligible for the visa.

Some of the other eligibility criteria include:

  • A minimum of 6 months of remote work experience and the ability to continue to work remotely.
  • Proof of employment with a company based outside of Italy or proof of self-employment.
  • Proof of no criminal record within the past 5 years.
  • Proof of valid health insurance for the entire duration of stay in Italy. This could either be in the form of private health insurance that also covers hospitalisation, or insurance from the Italian National Health Service, which costs €2,000 per year.
  • Documents proving accommodation arrangements for the duration of stay in Italy.

Once you arrive in Italy, you will need to apply for a residence permit within 8 days by visiting the police headquarters of the province in which you will reside. In case you wish to bring family members, you will need to apply for a residence permit for them as well.

Finland: Proposed Rules for Foreign Workers Who Become Unemployed

Finland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (TEM) is looking to strengthen oversight of the employment status of non-EU workers with a work permit in the country. A new regulation is in the works that mandates that work permit holders who remain unemployed for a period of three months must leave the country. The proposal also includes the possibility of residence permits being terminated when a work permit holder’s employment comes to an end.

The TEM believes that current regulations lack a formal monitoring system for work permit holders and do not include clear guidelines on the acceptable period of unemployment. Once the regulation comes into force, employers will be legally obligated to inform the immigration authorities when the job of a work permit holder comes to an end. Failure to notify the authorities could lead to fines for the employer.

As part of the new regulatory proposal, if a foreign worker, living in Finland on a work-based residence permit, becomes unemployed, they will need to leave the country unless they find new employment within three months. There is an exception, however, to this three-month rule. For specialists, ICT experts, and startup entrepreneurs, the duration has been extended to 6 months before their permit is revoked and they need to leave Finland.

Prior to this new proposal, work permit holders were only entitled to seek work in one sector. However, the new regulation allows them to seek employment in different sectors, as well as to increase the chances of employment within the three-month window.

The proposal is likely to be issued in Autumn 2024 and come into force in early 2025. It will also apply to Blue Card holders. This means they will have the same amount of time to look for new employment as a specialist.

Austria: Implementation Of EU Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Leads to New Employer Obligations

Austria has implemented changes to its labour law in compliance with the EU Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions. The amendments made to the Employment Contract Adjustment Act (Arbeitsvertragsrechtsanpassungsgesetz – AVRAG) and the General Civil Code (Allgemeines Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch – ABGB) came into effect on March 28, 2024. The new regulations are related to the minimum requirements of a service certificate in Austria and employee’s right to training and multiple employments.

In Austria, a service certificate details the terms of employment. Under the amended rules, employers need to provide additional information to employees on the working conditions, including the duration of employment, time and place of work, notice periods, and remuneration. Other information now required includes:

  • Procedure for employment termination notice.
  • Address of the registered office of the company.
  • Brief description of the work to be performed by the employee.
  • Overtime-related remuneration.
  • Method of payment of remuneration.
  • Conditions for changing shift schedules.
  • Name and address of the “competent social insurance institution.”
  • Conditions and duration of the agreed probationary period.
  • Entitlement to further training provided by the employer.

If the employer fails to issue a service certificate, the penalty could range from €100 to €436. If the issue impacts more than 5 employees or is a repeat offence, the fine could rise to the range of €500 to €2,000.

The regulations now also allow employees to enter into employment with other employers. However, the existing employer can prohibit the employee from accepting employment with another employer if the new employment will be incompatible with the working hours of the current employment or “detrimental” to the current employment relationship.

In addition, the new regulations clarify employee rights to further training and qualification. If the employee’s job requires specific training, education, or further qualification, attending any applicable training will be counted as working time, and the employer will need to bear the related costs.

The new rules apply to freelance and employment contracts signed on or after March 28, 2024.

Ireland – A Quick Guide on Fixed-Term Contracts

The Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act, which came into force on July 14, 2003, applies to fixed-term employees working under an employment contract with government bodies, such as the Garda Siochana, harbour authority, health board, vocational education committee or local authority.

While the Act applies to fixed-term civil servants, it is not applicable to agency workers hired for temporary work, apprentices, members of the defence forces, trainee nurses, and trainee Garda. However, the Act applies to agency workers who have been employed directly by an employment agency.

The Act has two main goals:

  1. To improve the quality of fixed-term work by ensuring that the principle of non-discrimination is applied and that discrimination against fixed-term workers is eliminated, wherever it exists.
  2. To establish a framework to prevent misuse of successive fixed-term employment contracts.

Fixed-term contracts are employment contracts is one where the contract ends on a specific end date, the completion of a specific task, or the occurrence of a specific event.

Under Section 6 of the Fixed-Term Work Act of 2003, fixed-term employees cannot be treated in less favourable terms regarding their conditions of employment than comparable permanent employees, unless the reasons for such treatment are objectively justified.

Section 9 of the Act specifies restrictions on the use of multiple successive fixed-term contracts. Under the rules detailed in this section, once the employee completes 3 years of continuous employment under successive fixed-term contracts, the employer can no longer renew their fixed-term contract for more than one year, unless objectively justifiable reasons are provided.

If two or more successive fixed-term contracts exceed a duration of 4 years of continuous employment, the contract is deemed as a “contract of indefinite duration” or CID. Here too, if justifiable objective reasons can be provided for contract renewal, the 4-year rule will not apply.

Also, under Section 10 of the Act, employers need to notify fixed-term employees regarding training opportunities and vacancies to provide the same opportunity to seek a permanent position as other employees.

It is important to also know that an employee or the trade union that the employee is a member of can, with the consent of the employee, present a complaint to a Rights Commissioner if the employer fails to provide any entitlement the employee has a right to under the Act.

Luxembourg – EU Blue Card: New Increased Thresholds for Minimum Salary

Luxembourg has raised the minimum average gross annual salary threshold for highly skilled foreign workers applying for an EU Blue Card. The new regulation came into force on March 24, 2024, with the objective of attracting international talent to key sectors in the country, while guaranteeing fair remuneration.

According to Luxembourg’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (STATEC), the average gross annual salary for 2022 was €58,968. Now, the salary threshold has been set at 1.5 times that amount, or €88,452 per year. For sectors the government deems to have a requirement for third-country nationals as workers, the minimum salary threshold has been set at 1.2 times the previous level, or €70,762.

However, third-country nationals will need to fulfill some conditions to ensure a faster and simpler process to working and living in Luxembourg as highly skilled workers, such as:

  • Documents that confirm their professional qualifications as a highly skilled worker.
  • An employment contract for a “highly qualified” position that is valid for at least one year.
  • Be offered remuneration equal to or higher than:
    • 1.5 times the gross average salary in Luxembourg
    • 1.2 times the gross average annual salary in Luxembourg for roles that the government deems to have demand for third-country workers (such as systems analysts, software designers, actuaries, statisticians, and mathematicians).

This means businesses seeking to recruit highly skilled third-country nationals will need to offer salaries in compliance with the raised minimum threshold. In light of these changes, the next steps for employers should include:

  • Checking existing and upcoming job offers to ensure compliance with the new salary thresholds.
  • Anticipating future needs for highly qualified third-country nationals as workers to plan the associated costs in advance.
  • Seek guidance from experienced EORs and advisors regarding the impact on the company’s recruitment and immigration strategy associated with third-country nationals.