2022 Budget Law: what’s new in the area of labour and social security

Prepared by Francesca Tironi, Marzio Scaglioni and Valentina Panettella

With Ordinary Supplement no. 49/L, Law no. 234/21 “Budget of State estimates for the financial year 2022 and multi-year budget for the three-year period 2022-2024” was published in the Official Gazette on 31 December 2021.

The 2022 Budget Law introduces a significant and material modification of the individual income tax regulatory framework, providing on the one hand to a systematic reorganization of the personal income tax rates (Article 1, paragraphs 2-3), and on the other hand to a reshaping of the deductions due for each type of income together with a general revision of the previous regulations referring to the so-called “bonus 100 euros”. At the same time, dedicated deadlines are envisaged for the adjustment of the disciplines referring to the regional and municipal surcharges (art. 1, paragraphs 5-7).

With respect to the social shock absorbers, the Budget Law reorganises the system by redesigning its scope as follows:

  • From 1/1/2022, the minimum seniority required for access to wage subsidies for employees is reduced from 90 to 30 days (Article 1, paragraph 191) and wage subsidies are extended to home workers and apprentices (Article 1, paragraphs 191 and 192);
  • For the purpose of determining the size thresholds, managers, apprentices and home workers who work both inside and outside the company are included in the recognition of the various wage subsidies (Article 1, paragraph 193);
  • From 1 January 2022, a single ceiling for wage subsidies of € 1,199.72 is recognised (Article 1, paragraph 194);
  • With regard to the additional contribution to be paid by the employer in case of access to ordinary and extraordinary wage subsidies, as of 1 January 2025, a reduction is envisaged for companies that have not benefited from wage subsidies for at least 24 months following the end of the last period of subsidies. Moreover, as of 1 January, companies manufacturing household appliances with more than 4,000 employees, which have entered into solidarity contracts in 2019 with an agreed reduction in working time not exceeding 15 months, will be exempted from paying the contribution (Art. 1, paragraph 195);
  • Employers requesting direct payment of benefits by INPS must submit the necessary data for payment by the end of the second month following the month in which the suspension or reduction of working time begins, or within 60 days of the adoption of the authorisation measure, whichever comes first (Art. 1, paragraph 196);
  • The absolute prohibition of working during the receipt of wage subsidies is eliminated, and it is foreseen the interruption of the payment in case of an employment contract exceeding six months, and the suspension if the contract is of shorter duration (Art. 1, par. 197);
  • As of 1 January 2022, for all employers with more than 15 employees not covered by solidarity funds, regardless of the sector they belong to, the rules on extraordinary wage subsidies and related contribution obligations are extended (Article 1, paragraph 198);
  • The CIGS (Cassa Integrazione Guadagni Straordinaria – Extraordinary Wages Guarantee Fund) is confirmed, also for the whole year 2022, to companies operating in the air transport sector and in the whole airport system, as well as to political parties and movements (Art. 1, paragraph 198);
  • Among the reasons for the intervention of extraordinary wage integrations, the situation of enterprises presenting programmes aimed at implementing transition processes identified and regulated in agreement with the Ministry of Labour and Economic Development to ensure employment recovery also through professional retraining of workers and increase of their skills is included in the reason for company reorganisation (Art. 1, paragraph 199);
  • For firms employing more than 15 employees, an additional period of CIGS is foreseen, up to a maximum of 12 months, which cannot be extended, to support employment transitions – under the grounds of company reorganisation or crisis – (Art. 1, par. 200);
  • For workers benefiting from wage subsidies, there is an obligation to participate in training or retraining initiatives. A trade union agreement defines the actions aimed at re-employment of the workers and the workers concerned by the treatment have access to the Guarantee for Workers Employability (Garanzia Occupabilità Lavoratori – GOL) programme. Non-participation leads to the forfeiture of the wage subsidy (Art. 1, paragraph 202);
  • The limits for the use of solidarity contracts are extended. The average hourly reduction cannot be more than 80% of the daily, weekly or monthly working time, while for each worker the overall percentage of reduction of working time cannot be more than 90% over the duration of the contract (Art. 1 para. 199);
  • With regard to solidarity funds, all employers not covered by the CIGO (ordinary redundancy fund), who employ at least one employee, will have to pay into the relevant fund. All funds will have to adjust by 31 December 2022. In the absence of adjustment, the employers will pay into the INPS Wage Supplementation Fund (FIS) (Art. 1, paras. 204-206 and 208-213);
  • With reference to the issuance of the DURC, as of 1/1/2022, the regularity of contributions to solidarity funds will also be considered (Art. 1, paragraph 214);
  • The expansion contract is extended for the years 2022 and 2023 and the size threshold for access is also lowered from 100 employees to 50, calculated overall in the hypothesis of a stable aggregation of companies with a single production or service purpose. (Art. 1, paragraph 215);
  • For employers included in the list pursuant to Article 20 of Legislative Decree No. 148/2015 who have exhausted the extraordinary wage supplementation treatments, an extraordinary treatment is provided for a maximum of 52 weeks usable by 31 December 2023 (Art. 1, paragraph 216);
  • As of 1 January 2022, the unemployment benefit NASpI (i.d. the monthly unemployment allowance) is extended to agricultural workers with an open-ended contract. The requirement of 30 days of actual work in the last 12 months to receive the benefit is eliminated, and the monthly décalage of the benefit is postponed from the third to the sixth month. For the over-50s, the monthly reduction of the benefit starts from the eighth month (Art. 1, par. 221);
  • As regards DIS-COLL, the monthly reduction of the benefit is postponed from the fourth to the sixth month and the amount and duration are increased, while the contribution rate for collaborators, research grant holders, doctoral students with scholarships, as well as administrators and auditors is raised (Art. 1, paragraph 222).

With reference, instead, to the hiring incentives:

  • Private employers who hire employees on open-ended contracts from companies in crisis, for which a round table for the management of the corporate crisis is active at the MISE, are granted, regardless of the worker’s age, the contribution exemption for hiring and conversion to open-ended contracts provided for in Article 1, paragraph 10 of Law 178/2020 (Budget Law 2021, which modified the discipline originally drawn up by Law no. 2015/2017). The exemption is equal to 100 per cent of the employer’s social security contributions (excluding INAIL premiums and contributions) and is granted up to a maximum of €6,000 per year, for a maximum period of thirty-six months, raised to 48 for hirings in the regions of Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Basilicata, Sicily, Puglia, Calabria and Sardinia. The incentive, however, is subject to the authorisation of the European Commission. (Art. 1 paragraph 119);
  • Private employers who hire on an open-ended basis a worker in CIGS under the employment transition agreement are granted a monthly contribution for a maximum of 12 months, equal to 50 per cent of the amount of the extraordinary wage integration treatment that would have been paid to the worker, provided that in the six months preceding the hiring there have been no individual dismissals for objective reasons or collective dismissals in the same production unit (Art. 1, paragraphs 243 to 247);
  • From 1 January 2022, the possibility to hire with a professional apprenticeship contract, and without age limits, workers under extraordinary redundancy fund (Cassa Integrazione Straordinaria) adhering to an employment transition agreement pursuant to Art. 22-ter of Legislative Decree no. 148/2015 is extended (Art. 1, paragraph 248). The 100% contribution relief (for the first three years of the contract) for first-level apprenticeship contracts for young people under 25 is confirmed also for 2022, in favour of micro enterprises with up to 9 employees (Art. 1, paragraph 645);
  • For the pay periods from 1 January to 31 December 2022, an exemption of 0.8 percentage points will be granted on the employee’s share of social security contributions for disability, old age and survivors, excluding domestic work. The exemption is granted provided that the taxable salary, measured on a monthly basis for thirteen months, does not exceed the amount of €2,692 per month, plus, for the month of December, the 13th month bonus (Art. 1, paragraph 121);
  • Also for 2022 and 2023, the contribution relief is confirmed in favour of companies under bankruptcy proceedings or in extraordinary administration, which exempts from payment to the INPS Treasury Fund of the severance pay (TFR) relating to the remuneration lost as a result of the reduction in working hours or suspension from work. Payment of severance pay is also excluded (Art. 1, par. 126);
  • For the year 2022, social security contributions for working mothers are reduced by 50 %, for a maximum period of one year starting from the date of return to work after the mandatory maternity leave. The rule does not affect the computation rate for pension benefits (Art. 1, par. 137);
  • Cooperative societies established as of 1 January 2022 are granted a 100% exemption from the total social security contributions payable by employers. The exemption is granted for a maximum period of 24 months from the date of establishment of the cooperative and up to a maximum of € 6,000 on an annual basis (Art. 1, paragraphs 253-254);

For companies with more than 250 employees (in the average of the previous year, including apprentices and managers), which intend to proceed with the closure of autonomous departments and the dismissal of at least 50 employees, the employer is required to communicate in writing the start of the procedure to trade unions, the regions concerned, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Economic Development and ANPAL at least 90 days beforehand. In the 60 days following the communication to the above-mentioned entities, a plan to limit the employment and economic fallout must be sent with a duration not exceeding 12 months.

For those who take over the company, on the other hand, certain tax benefits are provided. In the event that the continuation of the activity and the maintenance of the occupational structure are ensured, the transfer of instrumental real estate assets, which by their characteristics are not susceptible to different use, is subject to registration tax and mortgage and cadastral taxes at a fixed rate of 200 euros each. In the event of the cessation of the activity, or of the transfer, for a consideration or free of charge, of the real estate purchased with the above-mentioned benefits, the registration, mortgage and cadastral taxes are due at the ordinary rate.

In the event of non-compliance with the procedure, in the absence of the presentation of the plan or if the plan does not contain the required elements, the employer is required to pay the redundancy contribution (so-called redundancy ticket) at the double rate (with the disapplication of Article 2, paragraph 35, of Law No. 92/2021 even if it concerns collective redundancies). The doubling of the sanctions will also be triggered if the employer is in breach of the commitments undertaken, the timing and the implementation of the plan, for which it is solely responsible.

If the union agreement is not signed, on the other hand, the employer will be required to pay the redundancy contribution referred to in Article 2, paragraph 35, of Law no. 92/2012 increased by 50%. If there is a trade union agreement and the plan is signed, for collective redundancies initiated at the end of the plan the employer will pay the ordinary redundancy contribution, not tripled – Art. 2, paragraph 35 of Law no. 92/2021, which establishes that the measure of the redundancy contribution for collective redundancies should be tripled, does not apply – (Art. 1, paragraphs 224 to 238).

Moreover, in the direction of the enhancement proposed by the NRP, the Budget Law 2022 extends active policies in favour of self-employed workers. To this end, access to the ‘Guaranteed Employability of Workers’ (GOL) programme is allowed to all those who definitively cease their professional activity by closing their VAT registration (Art. 1, paragraphs 720 to 726).

In terms of conciliatory and programmatic interventions, it should be noted that the Legislator intended to make paternity leave (both compulsory and optional) structural – starting from 2022 -, confirming its duration respectively equal to 10 days and 1 day.

In order to combat abuses in the use of extracurricular traineeships, it is expected that, within 6 months of the entry into force of the law, the Government and the Regions will issue new guidelines with well-defined and more stringent criteria than the current ones. For the activation of the internship, a skills assessment will be required and at the end a certification of the acquired skills will be issued. In order to discourage the improper use of extracurricular traineeships, it is envisaged that the host party may be punished, in the event of fraudulent use, with a fine for each trainee involved and for each day of the traineeship, as well as the possibility, at the trainee’s request, of requesting recognition of the existence of an employment relationship starting from the judicial decision (Art. 1, paragraphs 720 to 726).

In the budget of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, a fund has been set up to support workers with cyclical vertical part-time contracts. This type of contract is characterised by the fact that the worker works only on certain days of the month or certain months of the year. The 2021 Budget Law, Law no. 178/2020, Article 1, paragraph 350, implementing a constant jurisprudential guideline, has also included the weeks not affected by work in the calculation of the seniority useful for the purposes of pension entitlement.

In the area of social security, the provisions are aimed at achieving greater flexibility in exiting the labour market and greater gradualness in view of a comprehensive reform of the social security system.

For 2022 only, the possibility of early retirement is envisaged for individuals who reach the age of 64 with a contribution period of 38 years (the so-called quota 102). The provision complements the rules on early retirement provided for in Article 14 of Decree Law No. 4/2019 (the so-called quota 100), which already governs the right to an early retirement pension upon reaching 62 years of age and a minimum contribution period of 38 years (Article 1, paragraphs 87 and 88).

The Ape Sociale is extended to 2022, widening the category of heavy jobs eligible for the measure and eliminating the requirement of three months from the end of the Naspi. For the purposes of access to the Ape Sociale, the requirement of seniority in contributions is reduced from 36 to 32 years for workers in the construction sector and in the ceramic and terracotta sector (Article 1, paragraphs 91 and 93).

The possibility of early retirement for female workers (the so-called women’s option), who by 31 December 2021 have accrued at least 35 years of contribution years and at least 58 years of age for employees and 59 years of age for self-employed workers, is extended to 2022 (Art. 1, paragraph 94).

Let’s Talk

For a deeper discussion, please contact:

Francesca Tironi

PwC TLS Avvocati e Commercialisti


Marzio Scaglioni

PwC TLS Avvocati e Commercialisti