Fixed-term work in the audiovisual sector
On October 2nd, 2019, the Italian Ministry of Labour and Welfare published an opinion answering to questions posed by Confindustria Radio Televisioni, the association of Italian radio and television broadcasters, concerning the application of a seasonal contract in the audio-visual sector.

In particular, the questions posed for the attention of the Ministry relate to two aspects of these contracts:

  • The possibility of using seasonal contract to hire artistic, journalistic, clerical and/or manual worker personnel assigned to single shows or to a series of consecutive shows, according to the Decree of the President of the Republic no. 1525/1963 (the “Old Decree”), providing a list with a limited number of activities is to be considered seasonal;
  • The department for collective bargaining is to identify further seasonal activities in the trade union agreements, thus extending the Old Decree’s list.

The doubts of Confindustria were the result of the Old Decree coming into force before the new fixed term regulation, which was provided by Legislative Decree no. 81/2015, that delegates to a new decree the task of identifying seasonal work hypotheses.

The questions are so crucial for radio TV businesses since seasonal contracts represent a type of fixed term contract that benefits from several exemptions from the general rules.

GENERAL FRAMEWORK

The new fixed term regulation provides strict limitations on the use of fixed-term contracts.

Firstly, the employment contract shall provide a temporary justification (to be chosen from mandatory general hypotheses) in the case of an employment relationship of more than 12 months.

Additional limitations concern the maximum duration of the contract (24 months), the number of fixed-term contracts compared with the number of permanent employees (no more than 20% of the permanent employees) and a mandatory interval between two fixed-term contracts (the so-called “stop and go”).

SEASONAL WORK IN THE AUDIO-VISUAL SECTOR

Italian law provides specific derogations to the general rules for seasonal work and the audio-visual business, meaning no limitation exists that is related (i) to the maximum duration of fixed-term contracts, (ii) the stop and go provision, and (iii) the numerical threshold for hiring fixed-term employees – as is also foreseen in the trade union agreement, signed on July 31st, 2018, by ANICA, the National Association of Multimedia Audio-Visual Cinematographic Industries, and the relevant trade unions.

THE OPINION

As regards the first question, the Ministry confirms that employers can hire, under the seasonal contracts, not only artistic and technical staff for the production of shows, but also manual and clerical workers for single shows, or series of consecutive shows, as indicated in the Old Decree.

Indeed, the new fixed-term regulation delegates to a new ministerial decree the identification of the hypotheses that fall within the seasonal contract but, in the current state, given the absence of such a new decree, the Old Decree continues to be applicable.

As to the second question, the Ministry clarifies that collective bargaining can introduce further seasonal activities in addition to those that are  provided for in the Old Decree, and the new decree will only supersede the old one, without prejudice to the department of trade unions, so as to provide new hypotheses.

In conclusion, the opinion of the Ministry of Labour and Welfare clearly shows that the Italian legislator is in favour of allowing the audio-visual industries to hire artistic, journalistic, clerical and/or manual worker personnel according to their business needs with (almost) no limitations.

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