Under the so-called Pension Law Reform, the retirement age of Italian workers was increased starting in 1 January 2012. Women's retirement age was increased to 62 from 60 and, as of 2018, this will increase to 66. From 2018, retirement ages for men and women will be equal. Public sector employees' retirement age has also been increased to 66 years. In addition, the contributory pension (i.e., the pension payable on the basis of the contributions paid by workers) is now payable when a worker has paid contributions for at least 41 years and three months for women, and 42 years and three months for men (up from the previous 40 years' requirement). Moreover, under the Pension Law Reform, the workers' retirement age will increase over the next few years on the basis of life expectancy criteria.

The Pension Law Reform changes, particularly the increase in retirement age, have triggered major concerns among the workers known as "esodati". This term, coined by the Italian media in 2012, refers to the thousands of workers who have lost or left their employment as a consequence of corporate restructuring plans, trade union agreements or individual economic agreements and are not yet entitled to a pension, due to the increase in retirement age and to the tightening of the retirement requirements provided for by the Pension Law Reform. Many Italian workers close to retirement age, subordinate employees and independent contractors entered into agreements with their employers which provided for the termination of their employment in return for the payment of a fixed amount that was, in most cases, calculated on the basis of the remaining years before the worker would reach retirement age.    

Another category of affected workers are those involved in collective dismissal procedures who are entitled to the payment of unemployment allowance for a certain number of years and have, therefore, been negatively affected by the increase in the retirement age.

In an effort to limit the negative consequences of the Pension Law Reform on such workers, the Italian Government has introduced a number of provisions over the last six months to widen the number of workers that could retire pursuant to the "old" and more favorable rules. Even though such measures will ensure that a total number of 130,000 workers will be allowed to retire under the "old" rules, the Italian Government did not pass the decrees necessary to identify precisely the categories of some workers who would benefit from this reprieve. Even then, about 200,000 workers in the "esodati" category appear to still be without protection and risk finding themselves unemployed and without a pension for a number of years. The destiny of the "esodati" is therefore still highly uncertain.