March 25, 2020 SPECIAL COVID-19 ISSUE

ITALY - Report

By: Mario Scofferi, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Milan

The current emergency in Italy has necessitated strong changes in behaviors and the way working activities are performed. Several measures have been adopted to keep people at home, including a strong recommendation to employers to use remote working (by a special and easier procedure, which is aimed at avoiding employees having to go to the workplace so they can stay safely at home) and to assign – as much as possible – to such employees the maximum number of accrued holidays. Furthermore, by a specific Law Decree (released on 17 March 2020), special measures to prevent employees’ presence at the workplace has been taken, including: (i) an easier way for the companies to use Wage Integration Funds (so-called CIGO, CIGD and FIS), paid by the Social Security Body, up to a period of nine weeks (during which the employers can suspend their employees from the working activities); (ii) a lump sum payment for self-employed workers employees equal to Euro 600; (iii) extraordinary parental leaves to employees who have son/s younger than 12 years (or, alternatively, a bonus baby-sitter equal to Euro 600,00); (iv) an extension of paid leaves (up to a maximum of 12 days to be enjoined during March and April 2020) for employees assisting people with disabilities; (v) the equivalence of the quarantine period to a sickness (and the salary during an employee’s sickness period will be totally bore by the Social Security Body); (vi) a right for employees who are seriously disabled or who “have a disabled person in their household” to perform their tasks by remote working (irrespective of employer’s will and technological infrastructures); (vii) a general prohibition to dismiss employees for objective reasons from 17 March up to 16 May 2020; and (viii) a tax credit of 50% of the costs of sanitizing the workplace and tools, up to a maximum of Euro 20,000.00.

Furthermore, stronger measures on safety at the workplace has been agreed between the National Unions which provides for, among other things: (i) a prohibition to employees  whose body temperature is higher than 37.5, and/or who have other flu symptoms, to access to the workplace; (ii) employees must inform immediately the employer about any flu symptoms during working time; (iii) an authorization to the employers to scan employees’ temperature before their access to the workplace (although adopting some cautions to be compliant to the GDPR); (iv) special cautions in the access of visitors and suppliers; (v) a daily cleaning of the workplaces and a periodically sanitizing (including related tools such as, for instance, keyboards, touch screens, mouses, etc.). In addition, the employers may “organize special cleaning interventions” making use, where appropriate, of the Wage Integration Funds (i.e. suspending employees from their working activities during such interventions); (vi) to provide the employees with appropriate personal protective equipment, also granting an interpersonal distance no lower than 1 meter; (vii) all national and international business trips must be suspended and cancelled without any exception; and (viii) periodic health surveillance should not be interrupted “because it is an additional preventive measure.”

Mario Scofferi

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Milan