The Eurocadres blog

Analysing the impact of AI in Italy


The regulatory framework and practices in focus.


Much of the regulatory framework relating to digitization, AI and data processing comes from the European Union, including:

  • GDPR
  • Data Governance act
  • Data Act
  • Digital Service Act
  • Digital Markets act

Of these European instruments, the majority intervene on the rights of consumers, citizens and businesses. Despite this, the most effective tool for the protection of labour relations is GDPR, because of the limits it places on data processing by employers, and due to the role assigned to trade unions and competent authorities.

In Italy, with respect to protection of the use of digital tools that intervene in labour relationships, Law 300 of 1970 (Workers’ Statute - Statuto dei Lavoratori) remains highly effective. The same limitation that was placed on the installation of cameras for work activities remote control is recognised for "digital control" tools, providing protection privacy and averting control over performance and productivity.

Article 4 of the law stipulates that in order to install cameras in a workplace, when these instruments record work activity and are not solely for security purposes, a union agreement or authorisation from the labour inspectorate is mandatory.

So, a combination of the GDPR's data processing restrictions (in particular the information needed on new digital work tools for workers and provided to labour organisations), along with the need for a union agreement for the use of monitoring tools are important protections.

There is also the data protection authority, which plays a prevalent role in monitoring, verification and inspection action. As CGIL, given the implementation and use of digital tools, we are calling for an organisational and functional strengthening of the authority in charge in the form of a systemic regulation in which we can act in advance, even in the case of a confrontation with social partners.

Another measure to mention is the Legislative Decree 104 of 2022, which established an extension of information on digital tools introduced in workplaces, directed to both workers and trade unions. The text was weakened by a subsequent regulation, but it is still effective in initiating a discussion on work organisation and digital tools.

Next, we are awaiting the final text of the European AI Act. Fundamental are the limits placed on facial and emotional recognition, though we have noted that it lacks sufficient detail on the role of union in collective protection and addressing work organisation and productivity.

Finally,  there is the issue of platform work and the breakdown in negotiations, which is not surprising to us and consistent with the call for deregulation, in which companies prepare the organisational and productive model themselves, reducing the ability of trade unions to manage the process of labour transformation and to guarantee protection and wages.

As far as we are concerned, we have had results in appeals on discrimination generated by algorithmic systems and contract typology using available tools such as: art. 28 Law 300/70 (anti-union activity), GDPR and art 2 Decree 81/2015 (hetero-directed subordinate job). With particular rulings (such as the Deliveroo case) providing riders the restoration of the employment relationship, the overcoming of algorithmic systems that produce discriminatory elements and finally the recognition of the subordination of the employment relationship.

The picture in Italy is, therefore, very complex because the regulation of confrontation between the parties is almost never defined by laws, but by inter-confederal agreements, which, as well as national labour contracts, are institutions of private law. Due to this, the eligibility of confrontation is rather complex and arduous, and in the absence of a representation law, determines that the recognition of the most representative trade unions.

Equally difficult is the status of the relevant authorities: Labour Inspectorate (regularity of contracts), Asl (safety at work), Guarantor on data processing (digital work tools), with few resources (including staffing) and in the absence of a representation law determining the recognition of the most representative labour organisations.

Protective action is therefore, as a rule, subsequent to the emergence of the problem (with the exception of a few specific cases), with a role of denouncing and chasing after issues, which are unfortunately widespread in our country, left to unions and some regulators.

Rarely are there direct measures taken by the competent authority, in most cases even in the face of blatant abuses it is necessary to initiate legal proceedings with very long enforcement and restoration timeline.

We could say that in addition to a partial regulatory problem and lack of quality in regulations, there is a problem of effectiveness, synergistic action and anticipation of phenomena. A problem of functioning and systematization of regulation which is not accidental, in my own opinion.


The author

Alessio De Luca
CGIL Coordinator Labour Project 4.0 Office