Self-employed workers (Directive 2010/41/EU and some relevant provisions of the Recast Directive)

AuthorRenga, Simonetta
8 Self-employed workers (Directive 2010/41/EU and some relevant
provisions of the Recast Directive)
8.1 General (legal) context
8.1.1 Surveys and reports on the specific difficulties o f self-employed workers
The Italian labour mark et has always been characterised by a high level of self-
employment. According to an ISTAT (the National Institute for Statistics) survey, in 2017,
self-employed workers made up about 23.2 % of the total workforce (compared to an EU
average of 15.7 %). Despite a decrease in self-employment of over 10 % in the last nine
years, this accounts for a large part of the gross domestic product (about 18 %). This
sector includes many different occupations, such as farm ers, professionals, shopkeepers,
quasi-subordinated workers (that is, a sort of dependent self-employed worker, known as
DSE, among whom the majority are women ), small entrepreneurs and self-employed
workers without employees. Their work organisation and regulation can differ greatly. As
a consequence, each category has its own pecul iarities. In general terms we can say that
their representative associations usually highlight the same chronic problems, that is a
lack of infrastructure, bureaucracy, delays i n payments, absence of illness protection and
fiscal pressure. All categories of self-employed workers have had to face the economic
crisis through income reduction , increased costs of production, or difficulties arisin g from
a more complex market.82
According to the results of a 2013 study by ISFOL (the Institute for the Development of
Vocational Training for Workers),83 another common and remarkable problem affecting
those in self-employment is the lack of professional training. In practice, resources are
mainly allocated to maintain workers in the employment sector and the cost of professional
training, which is compulsory only for some categories, rests entirely on the self-employed.
The research also showed the average self-employed person, irrespective of the category,
to be fully dedicated to their profession, performing the activity on his own, following a
typically and deeply-rooted male model of work, characterised by long hours, which t end
to exten d into and mi x wit h privat e lif e. This is probably one of the main reasons why
women are traditionally underrepresented in self-employment an d account for a lower
average turnover and income, than men. In fact, the research focused on professionals,
tradesmen, craftsmen, farmers and small businessmen, the majority of whom are men.
The problems faced by self-employed women are mainly linked to de facto obstacles rising
from double work in and out of the family or to old-fashioned ste reotypes.
However, the diverse world of self-employment also includes quasi-subordinated workers,
where women are in the majority. These forms of collaboration which also includes very
different situations, from the performance of a professional service in favour of di fferent
customers to (in most cases) a job for a sing le employ er, coordinated by the latter and
performed within his enterprise are often arranged simply to save on social contributions
and to avoid the enforcement of labour law rules, but in practice hide an employment
relationship. To counteract the misuse of DSE contracts, contribution charges have been
gradually increased, reducing the gap in comparison with dependent work, and some strict
legal requirements for the contracts have been provided. The problems that can affect
these working relationships are obviously similar to those affecting employees, because
they are often carried out in the enterprise. The legislature has also extended the
protection against blank resignation to these workers.
82 ISTAT (2018), Independent workers - Data for 2017, available at:
83 ISFOL (2013), Lavoratori autonomi: identità e percorsi formativi (Self-employment: identity and
professional training) in:

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT