Italy has introduced new rights for vulnerable employees and employees with children to work remotely this summer and extended its simplified smart working procedures.
Despite the fact the COVID-19 state of emergency ended on 31 March 2022, the Italian government is continuing to use smart working as a key anti-infection measure. Details of the provisions in force are set out below.
As has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, until 31 August 2022, employers will be able to use smart working without putting in place individual agreements with employees to this effect. They can continue to use the same simplified communication methods applied to date: online transmission of just the names of the employees involved (giving start and end dates) accompanied by an email with safety information, as required by law.
At greater risk
Until 31 July 2022, the right to smart working is extended for employees who are certified by the company doctor as being at a greater risk from infection, due to their age or immunosuppression, resulting from cancer or its treatment or ongoing life-saving therapy or co-morbidities.
In line with this right, until 31 July, employers must continue to guarantee these individuals have access to exceptional health monitoring from the company doctor or, when the company is not obliged to have one, by INAIL (the national health and safety at work body) occupational doctors.
The severely disabled and other vulnerable categories
Until 30 June 2022, severely disabled employees or those with a certified condition (as a consequence of immunosuppression or cancer or its treatment or ongoing life-saving therapies) are also entitled to smart working. It is also possible for these individuals to be assigned different tasks, as long as they come under the same job classification.
Social security protection for employees suffering from severely incapacitating health conditions who cannot use smart working is also extended until 30 June.
When these employees are absent, it is treated as 'hospitalisation' with associated sick pay:
- paid by the National Institute of Social Security, the INPS, if the person is covered;
- paid by the employer if not, with the employer having the right to an annual lump sum reimbursement of EUR 600.
Employees have the right to smart working if they are parents of at least:
- one child under the age of 14, until 31 July 2022;
- one severely disabled child or one child with special educational needs ('BES' in Italian), until 30 June 2022.
Generally speaking, to be eligible, smart working must be compatible with the characteristics of the job in question and there must not be a non-working parent in the household.
In addition to the framework outlined above, please note the following other provisions on smart working still apply:
- On 7 December 2021, the National Protocol for smart working was adopted. This sets out guidelines for collective bargaining at any level on this topic (without prejudice to compliance with current legislation and existing agreements).
- The application of the Protocol on measures to fight and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace of 6 April 2021 has been reconfirmed. This recommends maximum use of smart working.
As a result, employers in Italy will once more be faced with varying deadlines and additional burdens that could complicate personnel management and organisation.
(The new provisions on smart working are set out in Law no. 52 of 19 May 2022, updating Decree no. 24/2022, the 'Reopening Decree')
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.