With memo No. 1363 of September 14, 2021, the National Labor Inspectorate (INL), in accordance with the opinion of the Ministry of Labor, provided the first practical guidelines on new information regarding fixed-term employment contracts and grounds established by national collective agreements (CCNLs) introduced by Section 41-bis of the “Decreto Sostegni bis” (Law Decree No. 73/2021).
FIXED-TERM CONTRACTS AND GROUNDS
Section 41-bis (1), letter a) added to letter b-bis) of Section 19 of Legislative Decree No. 81/2015 a new set of grounds, i.e., “specific needs provided by the collective agreements pursuant to Section 51 of Legislative Decree No. 81/2015,” to those previously indicated by the law (i.e., temporary and objective needs, unrelated to ordinary activities; need to replace other workers; or needs linked to temporary, significant, and non-programmable increases in ordinary activities), the sole presence of which justifies the stipulation of a fixed-term contract for a duration of more than 12 months, but in any case not exceeding 24 months.
In other words, the national collective agreements are now allowed to identify new scenarios in which it will be possible to conclude fixed-term contracts exceeding 12 months.
EXTENSIONS AND RENEWALS
The amendment introduced into paragraph 1 of Section 19 affects not only stipulation of the first contract with a duration of more than 12 months, but also provisions regarding renewal and extension, as their individual provisions refer precisely to the reasons set forth in Section 19 (1).
Accordingly, under the amendments introduced by the Decreto Sostegni bis, it is possible to renew or extend a fixed-term contract in accordance with the new collective bargaining provisions.
Extension is intended as the execution over time of the same contract without interruption by extending a term or deadline. Renewal, on the other hand, is intended as “renegotiation” by the same parties of the contractual terms and conditions, with the same legal category and job title maintained.
Along with letter b) of paragraph 1 of art. 41 bis, a new paragraph 1.1 was also added to Section 19. This new paragraph expressly provides that “the term of duration exceeding twelve months, but in any event not to exceed twenty-four months, as per paragraph 1 of this article, may be used for subordinate employment contracts in the event of specific needs provided by collective agreements referred to in Section 51, pursuant to letter b-bis) of the same paragraph 1, until September 30, 2022.”
There has been much confusion about the deadline of September 30, 2022, and in response the INL has stated that this deadline shall apply only to fixed-term contracts with an initial duration of more than 12 months and not to extensions and renewals.
In light of this clarification, the new law should be read as follows:
- until September 30, 2022, it will be possible to stipulate a fixed-term contract with an initial duration of more than 12 months, according to the needs identified by national collective agreement (and other reasons already identified by Section 19 of Legislative Decree no. 81/2015). As clarified by the INL in memo no. 713 of September 16, 2020, this is the deadline for signing the contract, and therefore the contract may well provide for a duration of the relationship past this date, without prejudice to the overall limit of 24 months.
- after September 30, 2022, it will be possible to stipulate a fixed-term contract with an initial duration of more than 12 months, but only by using the other (already existing) grounds set out in Section 19 (1) of Legislative Decree no. 81/2015.
- The extension and renewal of fixed-term contracts with initial durations not exceeding 12 months based on the grounds provided by collective bargaining agreements (in addition to the other already existing reasons) are not subject to time limitations.