The "Sostegni" Decree (Decree-Law no. 41 of 22 March 2021, entitled "Urgent measures in support of businesses and economic operators, labour, health and territorial services, connected to the COVID-19 emergency") was published on the Italian Official Journal on 22 March 2021.
The "Sostegni" Decree contains, among others, labour provisions, whose content gives substantial continuity to the business support measures provided in the previous emergency legislation, extending their duration and affecting certain conditions of access.
With specific reference to employment issues, the following measures are particularly noteworthy:
1. Extension of the wage compensation funds for COVID-19 reasons
Employers having their working activity partially or totally suspended for COVID-19 reasons can submit an application for having employees (already employed on 23 March 2021) suspended from work benefiting from:
- ordinary wage integration treatment (CIGO, articles 19 and 20 of the "Cura Italia" Decree) > for a maximum of 13 weeks, covering a period from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021;
- ordinary allowance ("assegno ordinario") and wage integration treatment for COVID-19 reason (articles 19, 21, 22 and 22-quater of the "Cura Italia" Decree) > for a maximum of 28 weeks, covering a period from 1 April 2021 to 31 December 2021.
In both cases, no additional contribution is due.
2. Extension of the ban to dismiss for redundancy
The employer continues to be prohibited from implementing individual (ex art. 3 of Law no. 604/1966) and collective dismissals for redundancy, and this ban would expiry on 30 June 2021. At the same time, any pending procedure started on this regard since 23 February 2020 is suspended.
The extension of this ban is extended until 31 October 2021 for employers eligible for the 'in deroga' wage supplementation, ordinary allowance and 'agricultural' redundancy fund.
The suspensions and exclusions aforementioned do not apply in the following circumstances:
- dismissals due to the definitive shut-down of the company business, even as a consequence of the company's liquidation where the prosecution of its business is not authorised, even on a partial basis (except for company or branch transfer);
- bankruptcy of the company, in the case the prosecution of the business is not planned, or the closure of the business has been issued;
- in the case of company-level bargaining agreement, undersigned by unions mostly representative on a national level, where providing an incentive package for the termination of the employment contracts and to the extent involved employees adhere to such agreement (these employees will be granted access to an employment allowance called "NASpI");
- where the employees involved by the dismissals, already working in the context of supply contract, are re-hired when the new contractor steps in, pursuant to applicable law, national collective bargaining agreement or supply contract's clause.
3. Extension of fixed-term employment contracts
Extension, until 31 December 2021, of the special derogation from the "causal reasons" regime ruled by Legislative Decree no. 81/2015 with specific reference to fixed-term subordinate employment contracts.
Up to that date, without prejudice to the maximum overall period of 24 months, the employer is allowed to extend the duration of a fixed-term employment contract or enter into the renewal of a fixed-term employment contract – only once and for a maximum period of 12 months – also in the lack of "reasons" behind the mentioned extension or renewal (where required by Legislative Decree no. 81/2015).
The "Sostegni" Decree expressly states that any extension and renewal already carried out are not taken into account for the purposes of this clause.
Until 31 December 2021, the employment allowance called "NASpI" allowance is granted even in lack of the required 30 days of actual work during the 12 months preceding the unemployment period.