Following the publication of Decree-Law no. 41 of 22 March 2021, we offer a brief summary of the Urgent Labour Measures related to the COVID-19 emergency.
Social safety nets
Employers who suspend or reduce work activity due to events attributable to the COVID-19 epidemiological emergency may file:
- an application for ordinary wage supplement treatment for a maximum duration of 13 weeks during the period between 1 April and 30 June 2021.
- an application for ordinary allowance and wage supplementation in derogation, for a maximum duration of 28 weeks during the period between 1 April and 31 December 2021.
Applications for access to treatments may be submitted to INPS under penalty of forfeiture by the end of the month following the one in which the period of suspension or reduction of work activity began.
Collective dismissals and dismissals for objective reasons
The start of a collective dismissal procedure remains precluded and any procedures pending that were initiated after 23 February 2020 are suspended (except in cases where staff who were affected by the termination and already employed in the contract were rehired following the takeover of a new contractor, a national collective labour agreement or a clause in the contract). This ban also applies to the possibility of announcing dismissals for objective reasons (regardless of the number of employees) and related ongoing procedures will be suspended:
- until 30 June 2021 for companies eligible for ordinary wage subsidies;
- from 1 July to 31 October 2021 only for employers who apply for ordinary and special wage supplementation benefits.
The ban on dismissal does not apply in the following cases:
- redundancies motivated by the definitive cessation of the company's activity or by the definitive cessation of the company's activity following the liquidation of the company without the continuation, even partial, of the activity (in cases where, during the liquidation, there is no transfer of a group of assets or activities that may constitute a transfer of the company or a branch of it);
- a framework agreement entered into by the senior representative trade unions at the national level as an incentive to terminate the employment relationship;
- dismissals announced in the event of bankruptcy when the provisional exercise of the company is not envisaged or its termination is ordered (in the event that the provisional exercise is ordered for a specific branch of the company, the dismissals are excluded from the prohibition for branches not included in the same).
Extension or renewal of fixed-term contracts
As a result of the COVID-19 epidemiological emergency, without prejudice to the maximum overall duration of 24 months, it is possible to renew or extend fixed-term employment contracts for a maximum period of 12 months and for one time only, even in the absence of the reasons and as an exception to the maximum number of extensions and renewals provided for by law. Renewals and extensions that have already taken place prior to the entry into force of the Decree are not taken into account.
The Decree provides the right for vulnerable workers to work remotely until 30 June 2021 or, in the case of activities that cannot be conducted remotely, to abstain from work. In these events, this period will not be considered in the grace period.
These are hugely important provisions, which, due to their wording, are already giving rise to a wide-ranging debate over their interpretation. Our firm will continue to monitor how these provisions are being implemented and interpreted.