COVID-19 - Legal Updates For Employment Law: The “Sostegni” Decree
Following the extension of the state of emergency until April 30, 2021 and the issuance of further pieces of legislation in connection with the COVID-19 emergency, including the recent Decree of March 13, 2021, no. 30 (that introduced, among others, new parental leaves and baby-sitting vouchers), the so-called “Sostegni Decree” has been just issued (Decree of March 22, 2021, no. 41, in force from March 23, 2021) . Below are some relevant measures regarding private employment relationships introduced by the Sostegni Decree.
1. COVID-19 Social Shock Absorbers - New Measures Provided By The Sostegni Decree
CIGO, Ordinary Check (FIS / Solidarity Funds) and CIGD (Exceptional CIG scheme)1
- The Decree provides for:
- 13 weeks of CIGO within the period of time April 1 , 2021 - June 30, 2021; and
- 28 weeks of Ordinary Check / CIGD within the period of time April 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021.
- No payment of the additional contribution is required.
- As regards the information and consultation Union requirements, the Sostegni Decree does not introduce new rules, therefore it is reasonable to sustain that the information and consultation rules and requirements set forth by the Cura Italia Decree (Decree of March 17, 2020, no. 18) currently in force will continue to apply.
- The application must be filed with INPS: (1) as a general rule, by the end of the month following that of the reduction / suspension of the working activity; but (2) as a rule immediately applicable in the first phase, by the end of the month following the coming into force of the Sostegni Decree.
2. Ban On Dismissal Ban applicable until June 30, 2021 and further special restrictions from July 1 until October 31, 20212
- The dismissal ban, applicable to collective dismissals and individual dismissals for business-related reasons, is extended until June 30, 2021; "Changes in service contracts", where the employees of the former contractor are dismissed to be re-hired by the new contractor, remain outside the scope of the ban.
- From July 1 until October 31, 2021 employers identified by paragraphs 2 and 8, Article 8, of the Sostegni Decree3, are further banned from dismissing; the exception regarding changes in service contracts shall continue to apply.
- Exceptions to the ban:
- winding-up without liquidation, or following the liquidation of the company (provided that meanwhile no transactions qualifying as a transfer of business pursuant to article 2112 of the Italian Civil Code are implemented);
- company-level collective agreement (entered into with trade unions) incentivizing the exit of employees; in this peculiar and exception case, the employees who accept to terminate the employment will have access to the unemployment allowance (NASPI);
- bankruptcy with no temporary business continuation.
3. Other Provisions Of Relevance For Employers
Measures for “fragile” employees and remote (“smart”) working4
- As a general rule, “fragile” employees will work on a remote (“smart”) working regime until June 30, 2021.
- The rules applicable to “fragile” employees whose working activity cannot be carried out on a “smart” working regime are supplemented and further extended until June 30, 2021.
- Until December 31, 2021, fixed-term contracts can be renewed / extended for maximum 12 months and only once, even in the absence of the so-called “causali” (i.e., the reasons justifying the fixed-term hiring) provided by article 19, paragraph 1, D. Lgs. 81/2015, it being understood that the maximum overall term cannot exceed 24 months.
1 Article 8, Sostegni Decree, paragraphs 1 -3.
2 Article 8, Sostegni Decree, paragraphs 9 - 11.
3 Even if the final release of the Explanatory Report (Relazione Illustrativa) of the Sostegni Decree seems to support the interpretation whereby the further ban on dismissal in force from July 1 until October 31, 2021 applies only to those employers that will actually use the COVID-19-related social schemes, where available, an official confirmation of said interpretation is expected.
4 Article 15, Sostegni Decree.
5 Article 17, Sostegni Decree.