In brief

On 19 May 2020 Italian Government enacted a new Decree (document in Italian here), introducing new measures supporting employees, businesses and families affected by the COVID-19 crisis.


Contents

This new Decree provides for the following:

1. SOCIAL SHOCK ABSORBERS (“CIGO”, “FIS” and “CIGD”)

Employers who already used social shock absorbers for the maximum duration of 9 weeks, as provided under previous emergency rules (click here for more details), can apply for an extension and benefit from an additional 5 weeks of salary support, to be used before 31 August 2020.

Once all 14 weeks of salary support has been used up, according to the rule mentioned in the previous paragraph, employers will be entitled to an additional extension of 4 weeks, to be used between 1 September and 31 October 2020, provided the COVID-19 crisis continues until then.

  • Deadline: generally, applications for a social shock absorber must be filed within the end of the month following the one in which the suspension or reduction of working activity took place.
  • Consultation procedure with unions: with regards to FIS and CIGO, unions must be informed and consultation must be carried out, even via audio-video conferencing. Consultation may last up to three days.

With reference to “CIGD” (i.e., special shock absorber available for employers who do not qualify for CIGO and FIS), salary support shall be paid directly to the employees by the Italian Social Security Institution, INPS. However, employers with business units located in various Regions may anticipate the amounts to the employees and then offset with future social security charges. A Decree clarifying how many business units in how many Regions an employer must have in order to qualify for the above rule is expected by June 3 (currently, it is necessary to have business units in at least 5 Regions).

3. BAN ON TERMINATIONS

Individual and collective terminations for business related reasons are prohibited until 17 August 2020. Individual terminations implemented between 23 February 2020 and 17 March 2020 can be revoked without any consequences for the employer, who will be able to immediately apply for a social shock absorber if there is no work for the employee who is reinstated.

4. SMART WORKING

Employees who have children up to age 14 are entitled to perform smart working until 31 July 2020. All other employees can continue to perform their working activity remotely until the same date, through the simplified procedure currently in place.

5. FIXED-TERM EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS

Under this new Decree, extensions and renewals of fixed-term contracts already in place as of 23 February will be allowed until 30 August without the need to specify the business reasons grounding the extension/renewal (these reasons are normally required). In any case, the maximum duration of the fixedterm employment relationship remains 24 months.

6. SAFETY AT WORKPLACE

Employers are required to carry out health surveillance activities with particular reference to fragile employees (e.g. immunocompromised employees).

Employers not subject to the obligation of appointing a company doctor can submit a request to INAIL (i.e. National Institute for Occupational Accident) asking the latter to carry out health surveillance. If the employee is declared unfit for the job in the context of health surveillance activities, this is not a valid reason of termination.

In order to promote the implementation of prevention measures as set out in the Protocol signed between the Italian Government and the National Trade Unions on 24 April 2020 (you can read more in our previous newsletter here), INAIL may implement special measures for companies that have bought equipment for preventing the spread of Covid-19 (e.g. PPE).

7. OTHER MEASURES TO SUPPORT EMPLOYERS

Special measures to support employers have been introduced, including:

  • company-based collective agreements or local collective agreements can implement special working time arrangements, enabling employees to follow training courses during their working time; this time used to train is paid by the so-called “New Skills Fund”, a fund set up by a Ministerial authority;
  • subsidies that may be implemented on a regional basis, in order to pay the salary of employees, who otherwise would have been made redundant as a result of the suspension or reduction of the working activity because of Covid-19. These subsidies will be regulated by additional provisions to be enacted over the coming weeks and will be available for maximum 12 months, provided that the employees continue to work throughout the period during which the subsidy is granted. The monthly amount of the subsidy is equal to 80% of the employee’s gross monthly salary.

8. SPECIAL LEAVES FOR PARENTS AND VOUCHERS FOR BABY-SITTING AND EDUCATIONAL CENTERS

Employees who are parents of children under the age of 12 are entitled to 30 days of special leave (inclusive of the 15 days already made available under previous emergency decrees) to be used from 5 March 2020 until 31 July 2020. An indemnity equal to 50% of salary will be paid by INPS. The leave is granted alternatively to both parents, at the condition that one of the parent is not already receiving another unemployment allowance or does not work.

Employees who are parents of children aged 12 to 16 are alternatively entitled to a special unpaid leave to be used while schools are closed.

As an alternative measure to the above, parents can apply for a voucher which can be used for paying baby-sitting or educational centres services, the value of which is set at Euro 1,200 (inclusive of the Euro 600 already made available under previous emergency decrees) and paid by INPS.

Employees who are parents of a disabled child are entitled to 12 additional days of paid leave to be taken between April and May 2020.