In a recent decision the Italian Supreme Court ruled that employees had been lawfully dismissed after they failed to co-operate with their employer in finding suitable alternative work when their existing work came to an end.

The case came about after work on the construction of a high-speed railway was halted when archaeological remains were discovered. The works contract was terminated and the contractor dismissed employees that had been working on the construction project.

Ruling on the lawfulness of the dismissal, the Supreme Court noted that it is important to consider whether suitable alternative employment was available with the employer that could have been offered to the employees. However, the duty to look for alternative vacancies is not one that rests solely on the employer. Employees in these circumstances have a corresponding duty to co-operate in finding a suitable alternative job within the company, into which they could be relocated.

Looking at the facts of the case, the Court ruled that the employees had not co-operated in finding alternative work. Accordingly, the termination of their employment relationships was deemed lawful.