Answer ... The current regime for the protection and support of parents is set out in Legislative Decree 151/2001.
A biological working mother is entitled to compulsory leave, which generally lasts from the beginning of the second month preceding the probable date of birth (so-called ‘antepartum maternity leave’) to the end of the third month following the birth (so-called ‘postpartum maternity leave’).
Allowing both parents to combine work with childcare, Legislative Decree 151/2001 provides for optional leave, which may be taken by either the mother or the father in the first 12 years of each child’s life, extendable for up to three years if the child has a serious disability. Parental leave can be taken by the parents simultaneously or separately and for either a continuous or broken-up period.
Collective labour agreements can include provisions which allow optional leave to be taken on an hourly basis.
A father is entitled to ‘compulsory paternity leave’ for five days in the first five months of his child’s life, for either a continuous or broken-up period. He is also entitled to the period of postpartum leave which the mother would have taken (wholly or partially, depending on the period effectively benefited from by the latter) in case of:
- the death or serious disability of the mother;
- child abandonment by the mother; or
- the grant of custody of the child to the father on an exclusive basis.
Answer ... Overall, mothers are entitled to at least five months’ maternity leave, while fathers may be absent from work only during the first three months of the child’s life.
Parental leave may not exceed a 10-month limit, but the right to parental leave can be exercised by each parent for a continuous or broken-up period not exceeding six months, unless there is only one parent (this limit is increased to 11 months if an employed father exercises his right to stay home from work for a period of no less than three months).
During maternity leave, female employees are entitled to 80% of their pay, which is covered by the Italian Social Security Authority (Istituto nazionale della previdenza sociale (INPS)); although the employer is usually requested to pay this sum upfront, it is subsequently reimbursed. Some collective agreements further provide for the payment of the residual 20% by the employer. Instead, working mothers and fathers are entitled to an allowance paid by the INPS equal to 30% of their regular pay until the child’s sixth year of life for a total period of six months.
Economic protection has been partially extended to self-employed female workers, freelancers and agricultural entrepreneurs, para-subordinate and autonomous female workers registered in a special list maintained by the INPS.
National and often regional regulations also provide for maternity allowance and a family welfare cheque for mothers who do not work and whose family is in need.
Answer ... Article 39 of the Italian Constitution states that “trade unions are free”. This freedom is bi-directional: that is, it applies both to public law, with regard to relations with the state and public authorities; and to private law, with regard to relations with employers.
To avoid legislative intervention limiting collective bargaining freedom, trade unions are assigned to the private law sphere through their classification as non-recognised associations.
The main rights attributed to trade unions are:
- the right to associate and perform any activity on behalf of represented employees;
- the right to strike and to execute collective bargaining agreements; and
- the right to be informed and consulted when specific events – as provided either by the law or by the collective labour agreements – occur, affecting the business carried out by the employer.
Union representation can be established in each production unit by works councils, which have, among other things:
- the right to call meetings (including during working time);
- the right to hold referenda and to post texts and announcements related to union matters; and
- information and consultation rights on the occurrence of specific events (eg, transfer of undertakings and redundancy procedures).
Trade union managers are guaranteed paid and unpaid leave for the completion of their term and to participate in negotiations and trade union congresses or conferences.
Legal action against anti-union behaviour may be commenced by local bodies of trade union organisations if the employer’s conduct ends up preventing or limiting the freedom of the trade union or the right to strike.
Answer ... Employee privacy is regulated under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679) and Legislative Decree 196/2003, as amended by Legislative Decree 101/2018, which provides that personal data should be processed lawfully and in a transparent manner, collected for specified and legitimate purposes.
In the employment context, the employer may process employees’ personal information to the extent that this is necessary in order to appropriately fulfil employment obligations and in accordance with the following rules:
- observing the principles of data minimisation and lawfulness;
providing advance adequate information to data subjects;
- securing employees’ prior consent where this is required by law;
- fulfilling the obligations set established by the Data Protection Authority when processing special personal data or judicial data; and
- taking suitable security measures to protect data from unauthorised accesses.
Employers’ monitoring of remote working is governed by Article 4 of the Workers Statute, as significantly amended by Legislative Decree 151/2015, which still prohibits the use of instruments specifically aimed at controlling employees. Equipment which could monitor employees is allowed, but only in the case of organisational, production-related or security needs, and after either an agreement has been signed with the works council or the public authority has granted authorisation. However, such rules do not apply to instruments or equipment used to perform employees’ duties (eg, technological devices assigned such as smartphones, personal computers and tablets), which can be used without specific authorisation from public authorities or work councils.
Answer ... The use of contingent workers – also called ‘casual workers’ – who provide occasional services is governed by Law Decree 50/2017, recently reformed by Law Decree 87/2018 (the so-called ‘Dignity Decree’), which has made it easier to use this type of contract in the tourism sector, as well as in agriculture and by local authorities.
This is a kind of work whereby an individual engages in work activities (possibly for a number of different employers) resulting in total annual remuneration of up to €5,000, provided that the work performed for one particular employer does not result in remuneration of more than €2,500 per year.
In addition, the employer cannot enter into this type of agreement with a worker who has previously worked for it within the previous six months as either an employee or an independent contractor. Casual workers further cannot be used within the framework of a service agreement or by construction companies.
Casual workers have special status because they are different from other employees: their salary can be freely set by the parties, subject to a minimum wage of €9 per hour of work, and they have no right to compare their treatment with other employees. However, if the contingent work is carried out in breach of the law, the casual worker might claim that he or she has the status of an employee and may therefore claim the same rights granted to employees in case of dismissal.