The ‘dualisation’ debate has given new emphasis to studies investigating labour market segmentation. However, we argue that the traditional dual divide between insider/outsider workers becomes inadequate when analysing the Italian labour market – which features a long series of reforms that segmented the labour market into several categories of workers. This paper aims to investigate the interrelation between the institutional dimensions of labour markets and their consequences on workers’ inclusion in social protection schemes, adopting an analytical framework to introduce an additional category of workers, i.e. marginal workers. Marginal workers are non-standard workers whose involuntary, intermittent and ambiguous character in the labour market prevents them from accessing social protection. Focusing on Italy, we provide empirical evidence, we put forward the following arguments a) marginal work is the result of a disjunction between social protection and non-standard work b) marginal work mainly concerns younger generations. One reason for this might be the systematic application of new dismissal rules to new entrants.