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Not so happy returns! ECJ decide Italian firms can dismiss zero-hour contract workers on their 25th birthday.

28 July 2017 #Contracts

Italian law allows firms to offer ‘on call’ contracts (referred to as zero hour contracts in the UK) to individuals aged under 25 and over 45, those between 25 and 45 can only receive these contracts in limited circumstances.

In Abercrombie and Fitch Italia v Bordonaro, the Claimant had worked for about 18 months on an ‘on-call contract’, and was dismissed on the day of his 25th birthday. Mr Bordonaro claimed this was age discrimination and the Italian Supreme Court referred the case to the ECJ.

The ECJ found Italian law not to be discriminatory. Although the treatment to under 25 year olds was less favourable compared to the treatment of over 25 year olds, the ECJ held that there was a legitimate aim in helping young people gain experience by entering the labour market. It found the policy was an appropriate and necessary means, as it encouraged firms to hire younger workers knowing that they could be flexible with their hours. If young workers could not be dismissed when reaching age 25, this would reduce vacancies and employers would not then be able to recruit new under 25s.

Although not directly applicable to the UK, where no such age restrictions are imposed, there are interesting points to note from the Judgment. For example, in this case, the ECJ held that the Claimant was likely to be a worker as he worked regularly (3-5 times a week) during his 18-month engagement.  This may be relevant to self-employed contractors in the UK seeking to establish worker status.


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Nikita Sonecha

Nikita Sonecha

E: nsonecha@clarkslegal.com
T: 020 7539 8025
M: 078 8060 0395