Thanks to Leandro Fulvi for collaborating on this article
By means of Law Decree No. 137/2020 (the “Law Decree”), known as the “Decreto Ristori,” the Italian government is extending the emergency measures adopted via the August Decree (commented here) in order to contain the negative effects of the second wave of infection on the employment marketplace.
It is important to note that these measures have been introduced by means of a decree-law and therefore may be subject to amendment by the Parliament at the time of their conversion into law.
With regard to furlough programs, the Italian government is providing an additional 6 weeks that can be used from November 16, 2020 through January 31, 2021.
The additional weeks require no additional payments from employers whose revenue dropped 20% or more, those who started their businesses after January 1, 2019, and companies involved in the recent restrictive measures that led to their total or partial closure.
On the other hand, an employer that does not meet the abovementioned requirements but wishes to use the additional weeks under the furlough programs must make an additional contribution to the Social Security National Body (INPS); that contribution varies depending on the reduction in revenues that the company suffered as a result of the suspension/slowdown in business activity, based on comparison between figures for the first half of 2020 and those for the first half of 2019.
The contribution, determined as a percentage of remuneration that would have been due to employees for the hours not worked during the suspension/slowdown in activity, is equal to:
- 9% if revenue dropped by less than 20%,
- or 18% in the absence of any reduction in revenue.
Moreover, employers who do not rely upon the additional weeks of the furlough program are granted a 4-week exemption from social security contributions until January 31, 2021.
BAN ON DISMISSALS
The Italian government has further extended the ban on dismissals until January 31, 2021. During that period employers will not be able to proceed with either collective or individual layoffs (i.e., dismissal for economic and/or organizational reasons).
However, the Law Decree confirms the exceptions provided by the August Decree. Indeed, the ban on dismissals does not apply in case of:
- permanent termination of the business activity due to liquidation (unless all or part of a going concern is sold off);
- bankruptcy without temporary exercise of the business;
- execution of a collective company-level agreement signed by major national trade unions that provides incentives to terminate employment relationships.
REMOTE WORK AND PARENTAL LEAVE
Among other changes, the Law Decree also provides the possibility for parents of children under 16 years old (the cutoff age was 14 under the previous August Decree) to work remotely in case of suspension of teaching activities at school, or as an alternative to remote working; it also provides the possibility for one of the two parents of a cohabiting child under 14 years of age to abstain from working during the quarantine period or during the period of suspension of teaching activities at school while receiving an indemnity equal to 50% of their monthly salary. Parents of children between 14 and 16 years of age have the right to abstain from working, and while they receive no remuneration they do have the right to retain their jobs.
In conclusion, it seems that once again the government has merely extended the emergency provisions adopted in earlier months. However, in the current state of emergency, it should adopt long-term measures in order to allow companies and employees to learn to live with the virus while complying with strict safety measures.