Milano is the business & finance capital of Italy and hosts some of the best schools and universities in the Peninsula. A compact and flat city well served by public transportation, Milano feels more European than Italian in terms of efficiency and innovation. The Milanese have a reputation around the country for having a strong work ethic: they walk and talk fast, and go straight to the point, for time is money. The Milanese like to work during the week until aperitivo time, which is often used for professional networking while drinking a cocktail and eating finger food. Only during weekends people really find the time to kick back and relax, possibly in the city’s parks or on the Riviera.

Useful tips

However, there are some tips and tacit knowledge that is useful to have when working in a Milano office. Try to be punctual on the job and meet deadlines, although this is still Italy and you can expect some human understanding for unexpected difficulties. Base salaries in Milano for the educated workforce are usually around 1,500 euros per month for a full-time contract, while 1,000 euros a month can be considered a minimum wage for unskilled jobs in retailing or delivery. Workers have paid holidays (Dec 25-26, January 1, Easter, Liberation, May Day, Republic Day, Ferragosto) and paid vacation (at least four weeks). They are entitled to paid maternity leave (and also some forms of paternity leave) and sick days (you’ll have to see your doctor for a certificate, though).

Timing

In offices, people seldom show up before 9:30am and therefore leave the office at 6:30pm, considering that a one-hour lunch break is considered normal in Milano. Employees usually have a right to food coupons paid by the employer called ticket (from ticket restaurant, the earliest form of such benefit) which can be spent in most bars, bakeries, kebab, fast-food and pizza joints, and some restaurants (make sure they accept your kind before ordering; you’ll have to pay the difference if the cost of the meal exceeds the value of your ticket). It’s usually considered good manners to share your lunch break with two or more colleagues, but if you are anti-social type don’t worry, Milano is sufficiently individualist to let you read a book in peace while you eat a sandwich. The pandemic has however changed the 9:39-6:30 schedule with spread of distance working (smartworking the preferred Italian usage) in private and public organizations (although central and local government employees mostly are slowly returning to in-presence work), which is likely to be irreversible, at least for the professional and creative workforce which in Milano numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Hence the recent spread of private and public co-working spaces, especially in central or youthful districts, and also in the city’s peripheral neighborhoods, consistent with the idea of the 15-Minute City that the current administration is fleshing out for the next five years.

Convivial opportunities

People in Italy like to socialize on the job, which sometimes can be annoying if you have to get stuff done. However, be graceful when saying no to the n-th coffe break somebody proposes (Italians always have an excuse for an espresso, and who can blame them? It might even boost productivity). Colleagues also like to be informal in office relations, although you should be wary of bosses chumming out to you because it’s usually to extract some favor, concession or extra effort😉 However, you’re strongly expected to take part in office parties, usually at Christmas time, when the whole office usually go to dinner together.

Welfare assistance services

Gender parity in Italy is still a somewhat distant prospect, but in Milano female employment and women leaders have long been a trait of the city. Sexual harassment is rarer than elsewhere and women can expect solidarity and redress in case of untoward behavior coming from male colleagues or supervisors. However, for certain cultures, Italians might seem excessively warm or loud (and use profanities) on the job, and you should make some allowance for that, if this is of course no affront to your dignity or self-respect. Never be afraid to manifest your discomfort or denounce an abuse, as Milano is a liberal city intolerant with any form of discrimination, on the job and off the job. For an employment controversy, you can contact one of the many Italian unions (CGIL, CISL, UIL being the strongest in terms of membership) to receive assistance. Unions are well-entrenched in Italy and along social organizations like ACLI offer tax filing and welfare assistance services in centers called Patronati.

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