New employment measures announced to deal with the impact of the crisis in Ukraine
With Decree-Law No. 21 of March 21, 2022, the Italian government introduced new labor law provisions to address the economic impact of the crisis in Ukraine. These include:
- For the year 2022 only, fuel vouchers or similar benefits provided free of charge by private companies to employees for the purchase of fuel will not be counted in their income up to a limit of €200 per individual;
- Also for 2022 only, up to twenty-six weeks of ordinary wage subsidies for employers who have reached the maximum eligibility limits have been agreed with a maximum of €150 million of support available;
- Also for 2022 only, employers with up to 15 employees who have Ateco codes in accordance with the annex of the new decree – and who fall under a bilateral solidarity fund or the Salary Supplement Fund (FIS) or the Territorial Fund from the Provinces of Trento and Bolzano – have been granted an eight-week extension of the relevant salary support provided that they have already reached the previous maximum limit of said support;
- Employers in the steel, wood, ceramics, automotive and agri-food sectors are exempt from paying additional contributions for reduction or suspension of work from March 22, 2022 to May 31, 2022;
- the 100% exemption from social contributions for a maximum period of thirty-six months and €6,000 per year, has been extended to the hiring on permanent contracts of employees made redundant during the previous six months by companies participating in negotiations crisis or employees employed in the business units transferred by said companies. This exemption cannot be combined with the distinct advantage provided for employers hiring an employee benefiting from the NASPI for an indefinite period.
Decree-Law 21/03/2022 No. 21
New measures on the Green Pass and smart working come into force
Decree-Law 24/2022, which covers the phasing out of the Green Pass, has been published in the Official Gazette. Among the measures directly applicable to labor relations, it is worth mentioning:
- Employees over 50 are still required to be vaccinated until June 15, 2022. They can, however, access work with a basic Green Pass (i.e. by means of a simple certificate issued with a negative sample result);
- until April 30, 2022, employees without a Green Pass remain suspended from their work without pay. In addition, if they access their place of work without a Green Pass, a fine of €600 to €1,500 continues to apply and disciplinary sanctions may be taken;
- from April 1, 2022, isolation/quarantine is only required for those who test positive. For close contacts of a person tested positive, self-monitoring is required for 10 days, with the obligation to wear an FFP2 mask indoors and to take a sample after five days (or sooner if symptoms appear);
- until April 30, 2022, the mask is compulsory if it is not possible to respect the rules of social distancing. A surgical mask is sufficient in the workplace;
- the right to simplified smart working, i.e. without the need (among other things) for an individual written agreement, is extended until June 30, 2022;
- compulsory vaccination is extended until December 31, 2022 for health and nursing home personnel (“RSA”); and
- compulsory vaccination is required until June 15, 2022 for teaching and educational staff in schools. However, unvaccinated teachers will no longer be suspended from their duties without pay, but rather assigned to support activities.
Decree-Law 24/03/2022 No. 24
Casual work start communication portal now operational
A new app is now available on the Department of Labor’s Employment Services Portal to allow headteachers to make their (mandatory) disclosure of casual employment relationships. Notwithstanding the one-month grace period granted to the old procedure, from May 1, 2022, it will no longer be allowed to communicate the start of casual labor relations to the Territorial Labor Inspectorate by e-mail. Communications via the new application must be submitted before the start of casual work. The new application is accessible through the portal of the employment services via the public system of digital identity (“SPID”) or an electronic identity card (“CIE”).
INL, Note 03/28/2022 n. 573
It is illegal to withdraw social security benefits for formal irregularities
Failure to submit monthly declarations, which constitutes a purely formal omission, cannot give rise to the recovery by the INPS of any social security benefits from which a company benefits. In the absence of a substantial breach of non-payment of contributions, the INPS cannot withdraw any relief from which a company benefits. Similarly, the INPS is excluded from withdrawing the benefits enjoyed by a company during the periods when it was in possession of a regular DURC, as the irregularity of this document cannot have retroactive effect.
Court of Rome 11/03/2022 n° 66
Smart workers in Italy for foreign employers benefiting from the inpatriation tax regime
The more favorable inpatriation tax regime applies to employees of international companies working smartly in Italy, even if their work continues to be carried out for the benefit of said foreign employer. The principle underlying this decision is that residence coincides with the place where an employee has his habitual residence and constitutes a factual situation which presupposes: (i) actual residence during the relevant period and (ii) the intention to live there permanently. If these conditions are met when working smart in Italy for a foreign company, the impatriation tax regime is available.
Revenue Agency, Response to Decision, No. 157/2022
Excluding pregnant candidates from the recruitment process is discriminatory behavior
Discriminatory behavior is committed by an employer who conducts a recruitment process that completely excludes pregnant applicants. To assess whether discrimination exists, statistical data from demographic studies on the relationship between the female population of childbearing age (15-49 years) and the number of births, among other factors, are useful. Given that the said data published by ISTAT indicate that there is one birth for every 30 women of childbearing age, a selection procedure which resulted in the recruitment of 412 non-pregnant women and 343 men was organized to confirm a discriminatory behavior. The company involved in this case was ordered to pay damages for loss of opportunity in the amount of 15 months’ salary and the judge recognized its express deterrent value.
Court of Rome 03/23/2022 (Judge Cottatellucci)
The employer’s responsibility for health and safety is not objective
The responsibility of an employer to protect the health of its employees and prevent accidents at work is not objective but linked to the breach of obligations imposed by law or arising from specific experimental or technical knowledge at a particular time. It is therefore incumbent on the employee who complains of damage to his health to provide proof of the harmfulness of his work environment and its impact in order to determine the alleged damage to his health. In such a case, their employer can be released from liability if he can prove that he took all the necessary precautions to prevent the said damage from occurring.
Supreme Court 03/03/2022 No. 7058
Plurality of reasons for entering into a lawful fixed-term contract
The plurality of professional needs to protect the activation of a fixed-term contract is lawful if there is no intrinsic contradiction or incompatibility between said needs. In this case, the clause of a fixed-term contract was held to be valid because it linked a need for replacement to a specific production function (and not to an individual) as well as to the start of a process of reorganization and experimentation with new technologies as the company’s motives for the activation of the fixed-term contract.
Supreme Court 02/18/2022 No. 5408
Periods of quarantine and isolation following a positive Covid test result do not count in the calculation if the maximum number of work stoppages is exceeded
Periods of quarantine or fiduciary self-isolation cannot be taken into account in the calculation of the maximum duration of sick leave, not only for those who have been in close contact with confirmed cases of infection or following on their return from areas at epidemiological risk, but also for those who have tested positive for Covid-19.
With article 26, paragraph 1 of Legislative Decree 18/2020, the legislator aims to protect employees from work due to their quarantine following close contact with a positive case or in fiduciary self-isolation following a return from an area at risk of contagion, thus giving economic parity for these absences with the time taken due to illness and excluding the possibility that they are taken into account for the calculation of the maximum sick leave.
In the opinion of the Court of Asti, this provision of the legislation also covers the self-isolation of Covid-positive employees.
Court of Asti 05/01/2022