Step 2: Companies, get ready for reopening

Prepared by Francesca Tironi, Giulia Spalazzi, Valentina Panettella and Sara Tanieli

Published in the Official Gazette the Prime Ministerial Decree dated April 26, 2020, containing the measures envisaged by the Italian Government to deal with the so-called “Phase 2” of the ongoing epidemiological emergency caused by Covid-19.

Attention to the management of the spaces becomes essential, especially with regard to working environments.

As of May 4, manufacturing, construction and the wholesale companies (provided that the latter is linked to the other two) will be able to re-start their activities. The companies that will be able to restart their activities (listed in the annex attached to the Prime Ministerial Decree) must, however, have identified the safety measures to be implemented in order to reduce the risk of contagion in the workplaces and during the performance of the working activities.

The person in charge of the Prevention and Protection Service (RSPP) must provide employees with all the necessary information and  specific training and the use of personal protective equipment, such as masks, visors or gloves, will be a necessary, but not sufficient condition for reopening, which must in fact be carried out in compliance with social distancing.

The safety protocols defined by the companies must also comply with the models signed on 24 April 2020 between the Government and the Social Parties and between the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies and the Social Parties (for construction sites).

In this sense, the Protocol (the application of which must be monitored by a special Committee to be set up in each company), by updating the previous Protocol dated March 14th, 2020, provides essential operational guidelines for the proper management of the workplace in the current context, reaffirming first of all the importance of the measure, provided for by the Government, of the reduction in the number of people at the workplace, possible by means of, where possible, “smart working” (with the consequence that all the activities that at the date of May 4 will still be suspended can continue, as of  today, provided that they are organized in smart-working mode), social shock absorbers (if necessary, with appropriate rotations among workers), incentives to benefit from holidays, paid leave and other leaves provided for by collective bargaining agreements, as well as the suspension of the activities of company departments not essential to production.

It moreover stresses the importance of adequate information to employees on the provisions of the Authorities aimed at preventing and containing Covid-19 infection (for example, the obligation to remain at home in the presence of fever or other flu symptoms, informing the family doctor and the health authority, and obligation to inform the employer in case of onset of flu symptoms during the performance of the work) and how to use personal protective equipment, promoting for this purpose the delivery and/or posting at the entrance, or in any case in the most crowded premises, of special information leaflets.

The Protocol then provides precise indications to companies with reference to how employees and suppliers must enter and leave the company. In this sense, it provides, among other measures:

  • the possibility of controlling the body temperature of employees, in compliance with the provisions on the protection of personal data;
  • the inhibition of access to company premises to those who, in the last 14 days, have had contact with people having been tested positive for Covid-19, come from the so-called “at risk” areas or, previously tested positive, are without a certification certifying that he/she is no longer positive to Covid-19;
  • a commitment to limit contacts between suppliers and employees as much as possible and to ensure isolation and other containment measures prescribed by the Authorities with respect to those who developed flu symptoms in the workplace.

Afterwards, the agreement concluded between the Employers and Trade unions associations promotes the ventilation of company premises, as well as periodic cleaning and sanitation of the same premises, workstations and work equipment, in accordance with the provisions of Document (circolare) no. 5443 dated February 22nd, 2020 issued by the Ministry of Health and, if necessary, by having recourse to social shock absorbers.

In order to protect the health of employees, the following additional recommendations have been provided:

  • entering and leaving company premises in staggered fashion;
  • frequent cleaning of hands with soap and water;
  • supply of suitable hand cleaning equipment and other precautions (such as the adoption of masks, gloves and overalls in compliance with the provisions of the scientific and health authorities);
  • distance between workstations;
  • rationing on premises with a higher risk of assembly (such as canteens, changing rooms, refreshment areas, smoking areas);
  • adoption of adequate working schedule to ensure social distancing;
  • suspension of all business trips, whether national or international;
  • e-learning.

Finally, the Protocol provides precise instructions for  competent doctors, who is required for example, to give priority to preventive examinations, check-ups  on request and upon return of the illness and, in any case, to collaborate with the other persons in charge of health and safety at work in the adoption and/or integration of measures aimed at preventing and containing Covid-19 contagion.

Without prejudice to the above, the Protocol promotes in any case a preventive consultation  with the trade union representatives of the workplace (or, in the case of small companies, with the territorial representatives) so that each measure to prevent and contain the virus indicated therein can be adopted taking into account the peculiarities of the specific production reality and territorial situations. On this point, it is also specified that, where necessary based on the peculiarities of its own organization, each company may take measures to prevent and contain the virus equivalent or more effective than those indicated in the Protocol itself, and that the employer shall provide the maximum collaboration to the competent health authority where, for the prevention of epidemic outbreaks, the execution of swabs for workers is ordered.

It is understood that in this framework the Regions will assume a role of daily monitoring of the epidemiological situation in their territories, to adjust the measures to be adopted accordingly. Indeed, should a worsening of the situation emerge, urgent restrictive measures will be reactivated in order to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Let’s Talk

For a deeper discussion, please contact:

Francesca Tironi

PwC TLS Avvocati e Commercialisti

Associate Partner

Giulia Spalazzi

PwC TLS Avvocati e Commercialisti

Senior Manager