Italian court upholds rule suspending unvaccinated workers without pay

An Italian court on Friday rejected an appeal by 127 public sector workers against rules meaning those who refuse a Covid vaccine are suspended from work without pay.

Italian court upholds rule suspending unvaccinated workers without pay
Anti-vaccine protestors in Rome hold a banner reading ‘my body, my choice’. Italy has mandated vaccination against Covid-19 for many public sector workers since December. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

The Lazio regional administrative court (TAR) ruled that the Italian government was within its rights to suspend civil servants without pay if they failed to comply with the requirement to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The court dismissed an appeal brought by 127 public sector workers including police, healthcare staff and teachers who had been suspended from work without pay after refusing vaccination, newspaper La Stampa reported.

Their appeal centred on the question of whether the vaccine requirement was justified in order to protect the ‘right to health’ as enshrined in the Italian Constitution.

The court rejected the appeal by stating that the question of constitutional compatibility was “manifestly unfounded”. 

In December 2021, Italy expanded the number of categories of workers subject to its vaccine mandate to include all workers in Italy’s defence, security, emergency rescue, and juvenile and community justice sectors, as well as police, intelligence officers and prison guards.

The requirement was also extended to administrative staff in healthcare and teaching. Workers in public-facing roles in these sectors had already been subject to a vaccination requirement.

Those who refuse to get vaccinated can be fined and will ultimately face indefinite suspension from work without pay.

In addition, Italy requires all over-50s to be vaccinated, and to show proof of vaccination to enter their workplace in any sector.

The law states that exemptions can only be granted if an employee obtains medical certification stating that taking a Covid vaccine would pose an “established danger to health, in relation to specific documented clinical conditions”.

Find more information about Italy’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign on the Italian health ministry’s website (available in English).

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Reader question: What are Italy’s Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Italy's quarantine rules have changed so many times over the past couple of years, it can be hard to keep track. Here's the latest information on when and how visitors need to self-isolate.

Reader question: What are Italy's Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Question: “One of your recent articles says you can exit quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. But you can also exit quarantine by obtaining a certificate of recovery from Covid-19… true?”

Unfortunately, official proof of having recovered from Covid-19 won’t get you out of the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while visiting Italy – though it can shorten your quarantine period.

The health ministry’s current rules state that anyone who tests positive while in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle, or was certified as being recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and boosted, or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine in order to be allowed out.

Read more about getting tested while in Italy in a separate article here.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter its borders, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/ have recently recovered from Covid.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Some countries (including the US), however, do require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure – which means visitors at the tail end of their journey could be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

It’s because of this rule that a number of The Local’s readers told us they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer, and intend to postpone for another year.

If you are planning on visiting Italy from a country that requires you to test negative for Covid prior to re-entry, it’s a good idea to consider what you would do and where you would go in the unlikely event you unexpectedly test positive.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

You can keep up with the latest updates via our homepage or Italian travel news section.