With the publication in the Official Gazette no. 123/2021 on 25 May 2021, the text of Law Decree no. 73/2021 – the so-called “Sostegni-bis” decree – entered into force. This decree introduces urgent measures to support businesses and economic operators and strengthen new employment or re-employment, in connection with the COVID-19 emergency.
The Law Decree n. 73/2021 approved specific emergency measures in order to facilitate economic recovery and strengthen social support and new occupation in connection with COVID-19 crisis.
As far as the more significant measures in the field of Labour law are concerned, we highlight the following, being aware that the Decree contains provisions not only related to labour law and that within said subject we will describe only the provisions more relevant:
1) Paragraph 1 of Article 40 of the-Law Decree 73/2021 stated that, as an alternative to the wage supplementation treatments referred to in Legislative Decree No. 148 of 14 September 2015 (the so called Cassa Integrazione Ordinaria and Cassa Integrazione Straordinaria), the private employers referred to in Article 8, paragraph 1 of Decree-Law No. 41 of 22 March 2021 (those belonging to the industrial sector), who in the first half of the year 2021 have suffered a 50 per cent decrease in turnover compared to the first half of the year 2019, may apply, after stipulating company collective agreements as a precondition so to act, to reduce the hours of activity of the employees in force (on the date of entry into force of the decree in comment) in order to maintain employment levels in the phase of recovery of activities after the epidemiological. This for a maximum duration of 26 weeks in the period between the date of entry into force of the decree in comment and 31 December 2021.
The average hourly reduction may not exceed 80 per cent of the daily, weekly or monthly working time of the workers covered by the collective agreement. For each worker, the overall percentage reduction in working time may not exceed 90 per cent over the entire period for which the company collective agreement is in force. Workers employed at reduced hours pursuant to paragraph 1 of Article 40 of Decree-Law 73/2021 shall be granted a special wage integration treatment by the Social Security and Welfare Institution, to the extent of 70 per cent of the overall remuneration that would have been due to them for the hours of work not performed, without the application of limits, and the relevant figurative contribution;
2) Paragraph 3 of Article 40 of Decree-Law 73/2021, in addition stated that the private employers referred to in Article 8, paragraph 1, of Decree-Law No. 41 of 22 March 2021 – again those belonging to the industrial sector -, who as from the date of 1 July 2021 suspend or reduce their work activity and apply for wage subsidies under Articles 11 and 21 of Legislative Decree No 148 of 14 September 2015, respectively the so called Cassa Integrazione Ordinaria (provided for in case of temporary business reduction) and Cassa Integrazione Straordinaria (provided for in case of company reorganization and crisis), are exempted from paying the contribution otherwise provided for at the entrance into program until 31 December 2021. At the same time, such employers according to paragraphs 4 and 5 of Article 40 of Decree-Law 73/2021 are precluded from initiating the procedures under Articles 4, 5 and 24 of Law no. 223 of 23 July 1991 (collective dismissal) for the duration of the wage subsidies received until 31 December 2021 and pending collective dismissal procedures started after 23 February 2020 are as well suspended for the same period. The employers above shall also be precluded, during the same period, from withdrawing from the contract for objective reasons, irrespective of the number of employees, pursuant to Article 3 of Law No. 604 of 15 July 1966 (individual dismissals for objective reasons).
The dismissals ban referred to above shall not apply in cases of redundancies motivated by the definitive cessation of the company’s activity or by the liquidation of the company without any continuation, even partial, of the activity, in cases where, in the course of the liquidation, there is no transfer of a group of assets or activities which may constitute a transfer of the company or a branch of it pursuant to Article 2112 of the Civil Code, or in the event of a company collective agreement, entered into by the most representative trade unions at national level, providing an incentive to terminate the employment relationship, limited to workers who adhere to the above agreement. Redundancies arisen in the event of bankruptcy are also excluded from the prohibition, when there is not provisional exercise of the enterprise or its cessation;
3) Paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 4 of Article 41 of Decree-Law 73/2021 introduced a new form of labour contract, exceptionally in force from 1 July 2021 until 31 October 2021, called Re-employment Contract. This is a subordinate employment contract of indefinite duration aimed at encouraging the inclusion in the labour market of workers in a state of unemployment in the phase of resumption of activities after the epidemiological emergency.
A condition for recruitment under the re-employment contract is the definition, with the worker’s consent, of an individual project, aimed at ensuring the adaptation of the worker’s professional skills to the new work context. The individual project lasts six months. During such period of insertion of the employee within the company, an eventual dismissal is considered unlawful.
At the end of the insertion period, the parties may freely terminate the contract, pursuant to Article 2118 of the Civil Code, by giving proper notice. During the period of notice the rules of the re-employment contract shall continue to apply. In case neither of the parties withdraws at the conclusion of the insertion period, the relationship continues as an ordinary employment subordinate contract of indefinite duration.
As far as the discipline of such kind of contract is concerned, the ordinary rules on employment subordinate relationships of indefinite duration shall apply for any aspect that is not ruled by article 41 of Decree-Law 73/2021.
Employers, with the exclusion of the agricultural sector and domestic work, who hire workers in the form of Re-employment contracts are granted, for a maximum period of six months, exemption from the payment of 100 per cent of the total social security contributions payable by them, up to an overall maximum amount of Euro 6,000 on an annual basis. However, in case of dismissal of the employee employed by the contract in discussion during or at the end of the insertion period, or also in case of collective and individual dismissal for objective reasons of a worker employed in the same production unit and classified at the same level and legal category as the worker hired with the contributions exemptions – which happen in the six months following the aforementioned recruitment -, the exemptions granted are revoked and the contributive benefits already used by the employer shall be recovered.