Employment and COVID-19 in Italy

By Paola Parma Sforza, PALMER Studio Legale 

Since the beginning of the COVID19 emergency in Italy all employers were recommended to promote smart working to the maximum extent possible as well as to grant holiday leaves to their employees, in order to limit people’s movement throughout the Italian territory.

Prime Minister Decree of March 22, 2020 prohibited starting on March 26 completely the carrying out of any business activity (industrial, commercial and services), except for those deemed essential (as defined by an attached list or by reference to previous laws) and except for those activities to be considered “functional” to the essential ones (upon notification to the government provincial representative –Prefetto).

However, upon pressure by the workers’ associations which deemed it too broad the list of the essential and
tehn authorized activities is in the process of being cut.

Clearly, for activities allowed to continue, employers are required to adapt the working conditions to the pandemic situation; in particular, pursuant to Legislative Decree 81/2008 (Italian general and basic provisions in the matter of work safety and health) the employer must :

  • immediately evaluate the risk of Covid-19 contagion
  • timely adopt the measures fit to minimize the contagion risk
  • inform and train the employees about said risk, the preventive measures and the rules of conduct to be applied
  • operate an active heath surveillance
  • put in place the instruments apt to verify the actual performance of the above measures
  • provide for emergency plans fit to deal any case of contagion
  • make available the financial means adequate for the above

Specific provisions in the matter of health in connection with COVID19 are contained in the Protocol signed between the employers’ and the employee’s associations on March 14, 2020.

The breach of the above provisions (including the omission of the notice to the Prefetto) is a criminal violation for which criminal proceedings will be established against the employer; in cases where one or more employees falls sick because of the employer’s unfulfilment of the due safety and health measures, the employer shall be charged with the crime of culpable personal injuries or negligent manslaughter.

By emergency decree D.L. n. 18 of March 17, 2020, the Italian Government also provided for several extraordinary measures aimed at supporting businesses, families and individuals in the current pandemic situation. With particular regards to employment, the following provisions were enacted:

Limitations to employment terminations

No Employment Termination For 60 days from March 17, 2020:

  • no collective dismissal procedure can be commenced and those commenced after February 23 are suspended
  • employers, of any size, cannot terminate any employment due to economic or organizational reasons ( terminations on object justified grounds).

No employment termination for parents of disabled individuals Up to April 30, the employment of the parent of a disabled individual, living in the same house, cannot be terminated on the ground of absence from work, provided that such justified absence due to the closing of the centers for disabled people, be previously notified to the employer.

Access to wages supplement funds on an extraordinary basis for substantially any kind of employer and with simplified procedures

Admission to CIGO and “assegno ordinario”. Employers suspending or reducing their activity in connection with the pandemic COVID 19 are admitted to apply to Cassa Integrazione Guadagni Ordinaria -CIGO ( Ordinary Wages Supplement Fund) or to “assegno ordinario” ( another wages supplement fund) “for COVID-19 emergency”, for periods in 2020 of maximum 9 weeks altogether, starting from 23 February 2020.Urgent application and information /consultation procedures are provided for; CIGO and “assegno ordinario” periods connected to COVID 19 do not account for the limits of duration of the granting of the mentioned funds; other special and favorable provisions apply.

CIG for employers being already in CIGS. Employers who on February 23, 2020 are already admitted to CIGS ( Extraordinary Wages Supplement Fund) are admitted to apply to CIG (Wages Supplement Fund ) for a period not exceeding 9 weeks, to replace CIGS also for the same employees. Urgent application and information /consultation procedures are provided for, as well as other exceptions.

Admission to special CIG ( CIG “in deroga”) Employers (except for housework) which would not normally be admitted to any wage supplement fund may apply to a special wages supplement fund for their employees (employed of February 23,2020) for a period not exceeding 9 weeks. Applications should be addressed to the Regional (or Autonomous Province) offices. A previous agreement with the employees organizations is required (also by telematics means), except by employers of up to 5 employees. Payments are made by INPS (Social Security Agency) directly. Applications are granted on a first to apply first to be allowed basis.

Special leave periods (up to 15 days) have been provided for parents- employees including self employed

Special Children Leave for subordinate employees (with allowance). From 5 March 2020, all private sector employees parents are entitled, for a period not exceeding 15 days, to benefit from a special leave for their children -up to the age of 12 (or without age limit in case of disabled children)-with an allowance of 50% of the salary. Either parent is entitled, provided that both are employed and no one of them is the beneficiary of other support allowances.

Special Children Leave for self- employed individuals registered in the special section of INPS (gestione separata INPS) or registered with INPS (with allowance). From 5 March 2020, self employed parents registered with “gestione separata INPS” or with INPS– e.g. not professionals such as lawyers, CPS’s etc –are entitled, for a period not exceeding 15 days, to benefit from a special leave for their children up to the age of 12 (or without age limit in case of disabled children), with a daily allowance of 50% of 1/365 of their income (as calculated for the purpose of the maternity leave allowance or as calculated in accordance with criteria established by the law, depending on the case). Either parent is entitled, provided that both are employed and no one of them is the beneficiary of other support allowances.

Special Children Leave (without allowance) From 5 March 2020, all employees parents of children between 12 and 16 are entitled to a leave of absence, for the duration of the closing of schools, without allowance; employment remains guaranteed and termination is forbidden meanwhile. Either parent is entitled, provided that both are employed and no one of them is the beneficiary of support allowances.

Leaves of absence connected with the COVID-19 emergency

Quarantine period as sick leave. The quarantine or fiduciary quarantine period, as certified by the competent medical doctor (“medico curante “), is treated as sick leave to economic purposes but is not accounted for the maximum sick leave period (“periodo di comporto”)

Absence as sick leave Up to April 30 disabled employee or with certified medical risks are entitled to a leave of absence considered as hospitalization

Special one-time allowances, funds and extensions

Baby sitting bonus From March 17, as an alternative to the special children leave, employees parents (including self-employed parents not registered with INPS-i.e. including professionals ) are entitled to an allowance of Maximum Euro 600.00 for babysitting services. Applications are ruled by INPS.

Special allowance for VAT professionals and CO.CO.CO Professional with a VAT number and Co.Co.Co. (self- employed individuals on a continuous cooperation basis), who are not retired or not enrolled with other mandatory pension funds, who are active as of February 23,2020, are entitled to a Euro 600.00 allowance for the month of March, paid by INPS upon application.

Extraordinary bonus for employees continuing working on premises Each employee, having a salary not exceeding 40.000 Euro/year, working on premises is entitled to an extraordinary bonus up to euro 100 depending on how many days he/she worked in March 2020. The bonus is paid by the employer with the April 2020 salary and in any case within the term for the end of the year balance calculations.

Tax credit for workplace sanification costs Anyone carrying out a business or profession is entitled to a tax credit up to Euro 20,000 equal to 50% of the evidenced costs incurred for the sanification of the workplaces and work instruments. The criteria for said tax credit will be determined within 30 days by a Ministry Decree.

Extension of the terms for application for unemployment indemnities The term for applying for unemployment indemnity is extended from 68 to 128 days for termination events occurred in 2020.

Fondo per il Reddito di Ultima Istanza A special fund has been established in favor of subordinate employees and self-employed individuals who, as a consequence of the COVID 19 emergency, reduced, stopped or suspended their work. The Ultimate Income Fund amounts to Euro 300 million for the year 2020. The criteria of allocation of said fund among applicants will be determined within 30 days by a Ministry Decree.

The Italian Government is continuously “updating” the provisions aimed addressing the behavior of the citizen and businesses at containing the impact of the pandemic and at limiting its the impact on the economy. We all hope it works!


Paola Parma Sforza

Paola Parma Sforza

GGI member firm
PALMER Studio Legale
Law Firm Services
Bologna, Milan, Venice, Italy
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Published: COVID 19: Labour Law Implications in different jurisdictions, March 2020 

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