The act of 12 march 1999, n. 68, ÇNorme per il diritto al lavoro dei disabiliÈ (Normative for employment law for the disabled), which came into effect on 18 January 2000, introduced a new regulation about obligatory employment of the disabled.

First of all, with this act the area covered by the law is extended to employers, both public and private, who are obliged to hire disabled: in fact, while according to the redundant law 482/1968 those bound to the obligation were employers with more than 35 employees working in the company and the compulsory quota of disabled workers was 15% of those employed, the new law introduce this obligation also for company with 15 to 35 employees who are bound to hire one disabled person. For companies with work force of 36 to 50 people, the compulsory quota is 2 disabled workers, whilst for employers with more than 50 employees the compulsory quota is 7% of the workers.

Whilst for the latter two categories of companies this obligation applies from the date on which the act comes into effect (18 January 2000), according to art. 3,paragraph 2, Act 468/1999, for employers with 15 to 35 workers, the obligation is only applicable in cases of new employment.

Recently the Italian Minister of Employment intervened regarding the application of the new law with a ministerial memorandum, in which it is maintained that the obligation to employ disabled people for small and medium sized company smaller than 50 employees will apply within 12 months of the date of the new employment. The ministerial memorandum specifies moreover that if the company proceeds with a second new employment it must hire a disabled at the same time.

As far as figure on which the quota is determined is concerned, art. 4 specifies that the following are not included: a) the disabled employees, b) forward contract of no more than 9 months, c) members of co-operative, d) executives, e) apprentices, f) workers with a training contract, g) those with reintegration contracts, h) temporary workers, i)workers from home, j) part time workers, who are included only in proportion to the hours worked.

The first duty the companies have to fulfil is on the 31 march 2000. By this date they have to send a report according to article 9, paragraph 6, to the competent offices, in which they must indicate the total number of employees, the number and the names of the workers included in the quota, as well as the number of jobs and duties available for disabled workers.

In cases of a breach of this obligation, the company is subject to an administrative sanction of 1 million Lire (516,60 Euro), and fifty thousand Lire (25,80 Euro), for every day of delay. If instead, sixty days have passed from the date of the obligation to employ disabled, without sending the opening request provided in art. 7, paragraph 1, the employer will have to pay, as administrative sanction, to the fund for the disabled, a sum equal to 100.000 Lire ( 51.60 Euro) daily for each disabled worker not employed that day.

As mentioned above, the obligatory employment occurs through an opening request made to the competent office of the employer within 60 days of the commencement of the obligation. For companies with 15 to 35 employees, the request can be nominative, in sense the company can choose the persons who want to hire; for companies with 36 to 50 employees, instead, employment base on a nominative request is only allowed for one disabled worker, whilst for the second, the company must proceed through a numerical request, in sense that the choose of the person is up to the Labour Office; finally, for companies with more than 50 employees, the nominative request is allowed for 60% of the quota..

Nevertheless it must be emphasised that according to art. 11, of L. 68/1999, all those bound with respect to the employment obligation in question can stipulate special agreements, with the competent offices, regarding the determination of programmes aimed to fulfil the occupational objectives of the act in question. In these agreements the employer can regulate the means and time of the employment that they undertake to carry out, and therefore it is provided that the same employment occurs through a nominative request.

The law provides for hypotheses of suspension of the obligation or rather partial exoneration for peculiar situations.

In order to make the act regarding the protection of the employment of disabled people effective, art. 17, provided an obligation for the company to certify that it intends to fulfil a public contract or special conventions with the Public Administration: in fact, they are bound to present in advance to the Public Administration the declaration by a legal representative which attests that it complies with the laws that regulate the employment of disabled people, and also a special certificate released by the competent offices which proves the adherence to the act in question, to avoid exclusion from the contract.

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.