With message No. 3653 of October 9, 2020, the Italian National Social Security Institute (INPS) clarified several particularly critical issues relating to the management of employees in quarantine and the relevant social security.
One of the most significant issues is quarantine abroad. According to the INPS, a worker abroad who is ordered to quarantine by the relevant foreign authorities cannot be recognized as being on sick leave in Italy, as there is no order from the corresponding Italian healthcare authorities.
This conclusion has been criticized, as generally social security protections follow the worker abroad; it is difficult to accept that, unlike the medical certificates of foreign health authorities, quarantine certificates cannot be accepted by Italian national health authorities and properly used to grant economic social security protection.
Quarantine and disease
Another important clarification concerns the distinction made by the INPS between quarantine hypotheses (paragraphs 1 and 2) and sick leave certification (paragraph 6) provided in Article 26 of Legislative Decree No. 18/2020.
The social security protection of sick leave does not apply to quarantine, as quarantine lacks the status of an established disease precluding the performance of work activity.
It follows that a worker who is in quarantine because s/he is positive for the virus but asymptomatic can carry out work. Consequently, according to the INPS, an individual who contracted COVID-19 or who had close contact with infected people is put on sick leave (and the individual’s salary is partly paid by the INPS, as per standard sick-leave policy) only if they cannot continue working using a remote-working approach. In any case, medical documentation should be provided for this sick leave (deriving from COVID-19).
The INPS has thus overcome the doubt that a positive but asymptomatic worker can work, obviously remotely.
In conclusion, a quarantined person whose work duties are compatible with working remotely will receive normal remuneration, so the economic treatment of someone under quarantine and someone diagnosed with an illness will not be equal. In cases where work duties are not compatible with working remotely, quarantine and sick leave will remain equal, resulting in the economic social security benefit being triggered.