Penalty Profiles of the Fraudulent Use of Extracurricular Internships

In note No. 1451/2022, the INL (Ispettorato Nazionale del Lavoro, The Italian National Labour Inspectorate) expressed its views on the rules applicable to extracurricular internships started before and continued after the entry into force of the Budget Law 2022, which introduced new provisions in relation, in particular, to the penalties for their fraudulent use as a substitute for employment relationships.

Given that the internship does not constitute an employment relationship and cannot be used as a substitute for subordinate employment, the provision stipulates that, if the internship is carried out fraudulently by circumventing these requirements, the host entity is punished with a fine of 50 euros for each intern involved and for each day of the internship. Such fine does not prejudice the possibility of recognizing at the intern’s request the existence of a subordinate employment relationship, based on the judicial pronouncement.

Since this is an offense of a permanent nature, in the case of extracurricular internships continued and/or concluded after January 1, 2022, the date on which the Budget Law came into force, the INL states that:

  • the punitive treatment is applicable where the internship itself is found to have been carried out fraudulently;
  • the offense takes place as of January 1, 2022, resulting in the calculation of the relevant penalty for only the days starting from that date;
  • for the purposes of the charge of the offense, it is sufficient to prove that the internship relationship was carried out as a genuine subordinate employment relationship;
  • on the other hand, the administrative penalties provided for in cases of requalification of the employment relationship (i.e., failure to notify the establishment of the employment relationship and failure to deliver the declaration of employment) are not applicable.

This is without prejudice to the possibility, at the trainee’s request, of recognizing the existence of an employment relationship as of the judicial pronouncement, starting at the establishment of the relationship, even if it occurred before January 1, 2022.

With reference to the social security profiles, it should be clarified that since the social security relationship is taken away from the availability of the parties, on the other hand, the recovery of contributions cannot be considered to be conditioned by the worker’s choice to request the recognition of the employment relationship in the hands of the host entity.

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