Co-authored by Renato Scorcelli of Scorcelli, Rosa & Partners
The Italian Parliament has recently approved new laws aimed at improving work-life balance and working conditions for individuals who work from home. Law no. 81/2017, which regulates what has become known in Italy as "smart working," concerns the equality of workers performing the same duties, a right to disconnect, and obligations on the employer.
"Smart working" refers to flexible-working arrangements agreed upon between an employee and his or her employer. Smart working agreements typically allow employees to work from home on a part-time basis—or in some other flexible manner. Arrangements must comply with laws on maximum daily and weekly working time and applicable collective bargaining agreements.
Flexible-working agreements must be in writing and must define: (1) the duties to be performed outside the company's premises and any applicable conditions; (2) the terms regulating the use of computers and mobile devices; and (3) the technological and organizational measures put in place in order to ensure compliance with laws on with rest hours—including a "right to disconnect" during which periods the employer may not contact the employee.
The agreement must also set out the notice, which cannot be less than 30 days, to be given to the employee in the event the employer decides to change the smart working agreement to an ordinary contract of employment.
Workers that have a flexible-working agreement are entitled to the same pay and regulatory treatment as those employees who carry out the same duties inside the company's premises.
The parties to such agreements must identify working spaces, taking into consideration work performance needs and the reconciliation of professional, private, and family life. In addition, employers must ensure that smart workers benefit from the employer's accident insurance coverage—granted by the relevant national agency (INAIL), and take responsibility for the correct functioning of the technological devices provided to the employee. Finally, employers are required to draft an annual report indicating the measures put in place to ensure employees' safety.
These new laws on smart working seek to regulate flexible working arrangements, which are already commonplace in Italy as elsewhere. Practical challenges of home working include ensuring the employee has the IT skills to make it work and the opportunity for interaction with colleagues. Employers will also need to ensure that the steps they take to exercise control over the employee do not infringe relevant data protection legislation.
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