On December 30, 2021, the Italian government enacted Law no. 234/2021, “Budget of State estimates for the financial year 2022 and multi-year budget for the three-year period 2022-2024” (the “2022 Budget Law”).
In addition to tax changes, much of the new material concerns the field of labor law.
Below are the main provisions.
DELOCALIZATION: REQUIREMENT OF A PLAN TO SAVE JOBS IN CASE OF CLOSURES
A company with more than 250 employees (on average the previous year, including apprentices and executives) that intends to proceed with the closure of its headquarters, premises, branches, offices, or autonomous departments located in Italy, with permanent cessation of the relative activity and dismissal of at least 50 employees, is required to communicate in writing the start of the procedure to the trade unions, the regions concerned, the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Economic Development, and ANPAL (National Agency for Active Labor Market Policies) at least 90 days in advance.
This communication—which may be made through the employer association to which the company belongs or gives a mandate—must indicate the economic, financial, technical, or organizational reasons for the closure, the number and titles of the staff employed, and the envisaged date of the closure.
Employers who are in conditions of capital or economic-financial imbalance that make bankruptcy or insolvency probable and who can access the negotiated settlement procedure for the resolution of corporate crisis referenced in Legislative Decree n. 118/2021 remain excluded from the scope of application.
In the 60 days following communication to the abovementioned entities, a plan—with a duration not exceeding 12 months—to limit employment and economic fallout deriving from the shutdown must be drafted by the employer.
Prior to the conclusion of examination of the plan and its eventual signing, the employer cannot initiate the procedure for collective redundancy or delivery of notices for dismissal for economic reasons.
In the event of noncompliance with the procedure, meaning a plan is not submitted or does not contain the required elements, the employer is required to pay the redundancy contribution (so-called redundancy ticket) at a doubled rate.
The 2022 Budget Law introduces key new hiring incentives, including, most notably, the following:
- a contribution exemption in case of hiring employees from companies in crisis (equal to 100% of the employer’s social security contributions up to a maximum of EUR 6,000 per annum, for a maximum period of 36 months);
- a monthly contribution (for a maximum of 12 months) in case of permanent hiring of employees who enjoy extraordinary supplementary salary schemes (“Cassa Integrazione Straordinaria”) by means of the employment transition agreement (equal to 50% of the amount of the extraordinary supplementary salary that would have been paid to the worker);
- as of January 1, 2022, flexibility in the hiring—under apprenticeship contracts—of employees who are placed in extraordinary supplementary salary schemes (“Cassa Integrazione Straordinaria”) under an employment transition agreement;
- 100% contribution relief for apprentices for the first three years of the contract;
- an exceptional reduction of employee contributions due for invalidity, old age, and survivors, for the pay periods from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022; and
- as of January 1, 2022, a contribution exemption of 100% of the total social security contributions to be paid by employers to support the formation of worker cooperatives.
WOMEN’S EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT
The 2022 Budget Law also includes measures aimed at ensuring gender equality and supporting female employment, including the following:
- social security contributions for working mothers which—for the year 2022—are reduced by 50%, for a maximum period of one year starting from the date of return to work after the mandatory maternity leave; and
- a maternity benefit for self-employed workers, consisting of a 3-month increase in the duration of the maternity allowance.
SOCIAL SHOCK ABSORBERS
The 2022 Budget Law reorganizes the system of social shock absorbers.
Among several measures regarding social shock absorbers, the 2022 Budget Law (i) expanded the range of workers eligible for salary supplementation schemes; and (ii) as regards the extraordinary supplementary salary schemes (“Cassa Integrazione Straordinaria”), introduced an extension of an additional period of the same for all companies with more than 15 employees up to a maximum of 12 months, not eligible for further extension, to support employment transitions—on the grounds of company reorganization or crisis.
Moreover, the law provides employers falling within the scope of application of extraordinary salary integration that have exhausted their extraordinary salary integration treatments an additional extraordinary treatment for a maximum of 52 weeks usable by December 31, 2023.
Lastly, with regard to the additional contribution to be paid by the employer in case of access to ordinary and extraordinary supplementary salary schemes, the 2022 Budget Law envisages, as of January 1, 2025, a reduction ranging from 6% to 9%.
JOURNALISTS MOVE TO THE INPS
As of July 1, 2022, professional journalists, publicists, and trainees who are employed as journalists will be enrolled in the Italian National Social Security Institute (INPS).
The 2022 Budget Law governs how the functions carried out to date by the National Welfare Institute for Italian Journalists (INPGI) in place of mandatory forms of social security will be transferred to the INPS.
This represents the first part of the transfer (to be fully implemented as of January 1, 2024), involving non-social security benefits, such as unemployment and furlough schemes. In the interim, those benefits will be provided by the INPS according to INPGI rules.