Prepared by Marzio Scaglioni, Francesca Tironi, Leila Rguibi and Valentina Panettella
On March 22 th, the so-called “Support Decree” – Decree-Law no. 41/2021 – was published in the Italian Official Gazette. The decree essentially provides for the extension of the validity period of the main measures already provided for by the so-called “emergency” legislation currently in force in favour of workers and companies, in order to mitigate the effects on employment and income resulting from the Covid-19 epidemiological emergency.
One of the most interesting measures is certainly the extension of the social safety nets aimed at supporting the income of workers affected by periods of reduction or suspension of the work activity.
In particular, the aforementioned Decree ordered the extension of the so-called “Cassa Integrazione Guadagni Ordinaria” (the so-called “CIGO”) for a further thirteen weeks, and of the “Cassa Integrazione Guadagni per i lavoratori delle Imprese Agricole” (the so-called “CISOA”) for a maximum duration of 120 days, to be placed, in reference with the “CIGO” between the April 1st, 2021 and the June 30th, 2021, and in reference with the “CISOA” between the April 1st , 2021 and theDecember 31st, 2021. It should be noted that the thirteen weeks of CIGO are to be considered additional to the first twelve weeks provided for by the Budget Law 2021, which are in the first quarter of the current year.
For employers who, on the other hand, make use of the so-called“Cassa Integrazione Guadagni in Deroga”or the “Assegno Ordinario”(the so-called “FIS and Bilateral Solidarity Funds”), the extension is arranged for a total of 28 weeks, to be placed between the April 1st and December 31st, 2021. It should be noted that, under the provisions of Law no. 178/2020, the same employers may apply for the above-mentioned treatments for a maximum period of twelve weeks from January 1st, 2021 to June 30th, 2021. Considering that the regulatory framework set forth in Decree-Law No. 41/2021 does not provide for the attribution to the new 28 weeks of the integration periods previously applied for and authorized under Law no. 178/2020, which were placed, even partially, in periods subsequent to April 1st, 2021, it follows that the new treatment period (28 weeks) is to be considered additional to the previous one. Consequently, the employers in question have a total of 40 weeks of wage benefits available from January 1st, 2021 and December 31st, 2021.
As regards companies which, as of March 23 th, 2021 were under Extraordinary Wages Guarantee Fund (the so-called “CIGS”) treatment and which, as a result of the epidemiological emergency in progress, must further suspend the CIGS program due to the interruption of production activity, they will be able to access ordinary redundancy fund treatment (the so-called “CIGO”), for a maximum duration of thirteen weeks, for periods starting from April 1st, 2021 to June 30th, 2021, provided that they fall within a sector for which the right to access ordinary redundancy fund treatment exists.
In any case, regardless of the shock absorber taken into consideration, it is clear that access to the new periods provided by the Support Decree will be allowed regardless of the use of social shock absorbers for the periods until March 31st, 2021. This means that even employers who have never applied for wage subsidies for the various COVID-19 causes introduced previously will be able to use them. Moreover, the use of the new wage integration periods will not be subject to the payment of the additional contribution, and the target group of beneficiaries will be the workers in force as of March 23th, 2021.
With reference to the so-called “prohibition of dismissal”, the Support Decree provides for two different terms of duration. The suspension of collective dismissal procedures and the right to proceed with individual dismissals for justified objective reasons, in fact, except for the cases of exclusion specifically provided for by the law, is extended until June 30th, 2021 for the generality of employers, while it will continue to be applied until October 31st, 2021 with reference only to employers who will benefit from the the so-called “Assegno ordinario”, “Cassa integrazione guadagni in deroga” or “Cassa integrazione per i lavoratori delle imprese agricole” in the periods allowed by the Support Decree.
Furthermore, in order to allow the gradual recovery of business activity, the Legislator has extended until December 31st, 2021 the possibility of extending or renewing fixed-term employment contracts without the need to specify the reason that the ordinary legislation of reference (Legislative Decree no. 81/2015) would provide as a condition of legitimacy of the contract extension or the renewal. We recall, in any case, that the extension or renewal is allowed only once, for a maximum period of twelve months and in any event within the limit of the overall duration of the contract established in twenty-four months. The legislator has, moreover, duly specified that for the purposes of verifying the above-mentioned limits, no account should be taken of renewals and extensions made before the entry into force of the Support Decree (March 23th, 2021).
In addition, in order to provide economic support to workers who have lost their jobs, the Support Decree established that with reference to unemployment events that occurred in the period between March 23 th and December 31st, 2021 the unemployment allowance, or the so-called “NASpi” – “Nuova Prestazione di Assicurazione Sociale per l’Impiego” – is payable irrespective of the requirement of 30 working days which, apart from the above-mentioned hypothesis, the worker must be able to rely on with reference to the twelve months preceding the beginning of unemployment.
Moreover, the Support Decree established a fund – with an endowment of 100 million euros for the year 2021 – to compensate losses resulting from the cancellation, postponement or downsizing of trade fairs and congresses due to the Covid-19 epidemic. On this point, a decree of the Minister of Tourism is awaited in order to define the distribution of the amounts and the concrete implementation of the compensation measures.
Finally, with regard to measures in favour of workers in fragile conditions, the Support Decree has provided for the extension, until June 30th, 2021 of the possibility for the latter to working remotely – even if this entails the assignment of tasks other than the original ones – as well as the protection of any period of absence from work, which will continue to be equated to hospitalisation.
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