Prepared by Marzio Scaglioni and Paola Barresi
On December 3, Law no. 162/2021 – the so-called “Code of equal opportunities between men and women” – contains provisions on equal opportunities between men and women in the workplace, with the aim of further strengthening the safeguards already provided for female workers and achieving more effective gender equality in business contexts.
Among the many innovations introduced, the previous legislation concerning the biennial reporting obligation addressed to both public and private companies, is amended, as ruled by article 46 of Legislative Decree no. 198/2006. In fact, by 30/04/2022, the companies concerned are required to send the periodic report on the personnel situation, aimed at gathering the information necessary to evaluate the achievement of gender equality in the company context. The survey parameters are different and divided for the different professions carried out within the company. In particular, the state of recruitment, career advancement, terminations of the employment relationship as well as the salary situation are mentioned, in the complete absence of any type of internal discrimination, as per the new definition provided for.
Among the novelties, there is the extension of the number of the companies with the obligation to submit a two-year report since, starting from 2022, all companies with a workforce of more than 50 employees will be required to send the periodic report. Therefore, the size threshold of companies is considerably reduced, passing from those with more than 100 employees to those with more than 50 employees, and set more precisely the timing of the obligation, up to now “at least two years”, now “fixed two years”. Furthermore, according to the new paragraph 1 bis, even public and private companies that employ up to 50 employees will have the right (but not the obligation) to draw up the report, following the same rules.
The drafting of the report is exclusively in an electronic way, through a new model that will be published on the website of the Ministry of Labour, and which, once completed by the company, must be sent to the company trade union representatives. (“RSA”). The regional/metropolitan cities councilor of equality will verify the results on the basis of the reports received, subsequently transmitting them to the Ministry of Labor, the competent ITL, to the national councilors and other relevant bodies. The aim will be to make public on the ministerial site the companies that have correctly fulfilled the obligation and those that, on the other hand, have not fulfilled it. To date, we are awaiting the Ministerial Decree, to be adopted within 60 days from the entry into force of the law, with which will be provided the instructions relating to the preparation of the biennial report.
On the sanctioning system side, it is important to remember that the failure to comply with the aforementioned reporting obligation can be punished with an administrative sanction between € 515 and € 2.580 in the event that the company does not fulfill the warning within the terms of the law issued by the reference body. On the other hand, it should be noted that the Law no. 162/2021 introduces a new pecuniary administrative sanction (from € 1.000 to € 5.000) if the INL, during any inspection activities, finds false reports. If the non-compliance continues for more than 12 months, the suspension of any contributory benefits enjoyed by the company will be established for one year.
In this regard, in fact, there are several new measures: on the one hand, article 46 bis introduces the certification of gender equality which, starting from 2022, will certify, for the reference company, the adequacy of company measures adopted to reduce the gender gap within the specific company, in relation to the opportunity for growth in the company, wage equality, gender differences management policies as well as the protection of maternity, introducing also a reward system in the granting of state subsidies. Furthermore, until the funds currently made available (€ 50 million) are exhausted, companies in possession of the certification may benefit a relief from social security contributions on the employer’s charge, no more than 1% of the amount due and for a maximum of € 50.000 per company.
In light of all the above, further operational instructions from the ministerial institutions are awaited, by the deadline for sending the report in the current year.
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