The latest Italian reforms to employment and labour law give companies more flexibility for their operations. The new statute was approved on 31 July 2003 and is about to come into force in the next weeks.

The law now makes outsourcing of work processes easier and introduces a number of new employment contracts, such as job-sharing, jobs on-call, as well as new rules for part time workers.

Many parts of the law will be immediately effective, though some more detailed specifications need to be implemented by collective bargaining agreements or by decrees of the Ministry of Employment.

Two of the major news regard a new definition of transfer of part of an undertaking and the provision of labour supply agencies and temporary work, which will make the outsourcing process easier.

1) Transfer of part of an undertaking.

Since 1942, article 2112 of the Italian Civil Code provides that, in case of transfer of an undertaking, the employment contracts continue with the transferee under the same conditions, and that the transferor and the transferee are jointly liable for the payment the employee is legally entitled to at the moment of the transfer.

In 2001, a definition for the "part of an undertaking" was introduced: it requires an autonomously functioning unit which already existed before the transfer, and that retains its identity with the transfer.

The new 2003 law changes this definition of the part of an undertaking, stating that the abovementioned rules are applicable to whatever the transferor and the transferee, at the moment of the transfer, determine as an autonomously functioning unit.

In practice, the employer will now be able to transfer a part of the undertaking, whose «autonomy» before the transfer is merely a potential.

2) The labour supply and temporary work through authorized agencies will be now permitted without the restrictions provided by Statute no. 196 of 1997. (Before, it was only allowed in certain cases: Temporary use of workforce whose qualification is not in the normal company staff; Replacement of employees on holiday and cases provided by collective bargaining agreements).

Companies now are allowed to hire temporary workers even for indefinite periods. This will be possible in the following cases:

  1. Consultation and assistance in the computer sector, including project-making and maintenance of intranet and extranet systems, websites, software development, data input;
  2. Cleaning, guardianship, porter;
  3. Transport of people or machinery and goods from and to the plant;
  4. Management of libraries, parks, museums, archives, warehouses, and supply offices;
  5. Management consultancy, auditing services, programming of resources and organisational change and development, personnel management, recruitment;
  6. Marketing activities, market analysis, organisation of commercial activities;
  7. Call-centre management, starting-up of new company activity initiatives related to «Objective 1» areas, mentioned by the EC regulation no. 1260/1999 (21 June 1999) of the European Council, concerning general rules on structural funds;
  8. Building work within the plant, installation or dismantling of equipment or machines for special production activities – with specific reference to building and shipbuilding industry – that require several subsequent work phases and specialized workforce that is different from the one already hired by the company;
  9. All cases provided by national and local collective bargaining agreements stipulated by employers associations and employees trade unions that are comparatively more representative.

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