Luglio 2015 · solo inglese

A further set of new rules changing the shape of Italian Labour Law

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A FURTHER SET OF NEW RULES CHANGING THE SHAPE OF ITALIAN LABOUR LAW

On June 25, 2015 two further pieces of legislation enacting the significant labour law reform known as the “Jobs Act” entered into force, and namely Legislative Decrees no. 80 and 81 (hereinafter the “Decrees”).

The main changes introduced by the Decrees concern the following areas:

  • assignment of different duties and roles to an employee: greater flexibility is granted to employers, both when acting unilaterally and in agreement with the employee;
  • definition of new perimeters for employment and self-employment: with a clear favour towards employment (which is currently being fostered by the Government through both incentives for the permanent hiring and new, more flexible, rules on dismissals), the legislator reduces the room for selfemployment, including by cancelling to so-called project-work contract;
  • reorganization of the law provisions governing the several employment types existing in our system: a new unique source of rules is therefore now available;
  • support to parenthood: new working time and leave of absence patterns are introduced to the benefit of mothers and fathers.

Here below are some of the highlights of the new legislation.

THE ASSIGNMENT OF DIFFERENT DUTIES

Employers are now entitled to unilaterally change the employee’s duties, to the extent the new duties fall within the same contractual level, as described in the applicable national collective agreement, and the same statutory qualification1 of the duties last performed. So far, on the contrary, the unilateral assignment of different duties was considered lawful only when the new duties were “equivalent” to the previous ones, i.e. allowed the employee to continue to use the professional skills set and the specific competence acquired at the time of the change.

In a limited number of circumstances employers are also entitled to unilaterally assign lower duties to employees, and namely:

  • in the presence of organizational changes also affecting the employee’s position;
  • in all the other cases which will be established by collective agreements (including at company-level).

The lower duties must however correspond to the contractual level immediately below the previous one and to the previous statutory qualification, and the employee is entitled to maintain the previous salary. Employers must also provide adequate training on the newly assigned duties, although failure to comply with such obligation does not make the demotion null and void.

Finally, for the specific purpose of safeguarding occupation, allowing the employee to acquire new professional skills, or improving the employee’s life conditions, employer and employee can agree, at any time but at specific venues, on the assignment of lower duties entailing inferior statutory qualification and contractual level, as well as a reduction in salary.

EMPLOYMENT VS SELF-EMPLOYMENT

With a view at broadening the scope of employment, effective January 1st, 2016 all the self-employment collaborations where the individual provides exclusively personal work, on an on-going basis, and the principal organizes the individual’s execution of work, including in terms of working time and place, shall be considered employment, with application of the related rules.

Therefore, in all cases in which there is a certain level of coordination between the principal’s organization and the self-employed individual’s services, the collaboration will be at risk of conversion into employment.

Such risk can be excluded only for self-employment collaborations entered into with categories of individuals specifically identified by the legislator, including for instance Boards of Directors’ members, registered professionals (such as lawyers, doctors, chartered accountants), specific categories identified by collective agreements (e.g. call center operators).

In line with the above changes, effective June 25, 2015 the so-called project work, a self-employment collaboration strictly related to a project, which was much used in recent years, has disappeared from our law system, except for contracts which were already in force on that date.

Always in an attempt to encourage the use of employment, the Decrees grants a social security, insurance and tax obligations “amnesty” to employers who, starting from January 1st, 2016, hire on a permanent basis individuals who were previously self-employed, provided that certain conditions are met.

THE REORGANIZATION OF EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS

Legislative Decree no. 81/2015 reorganizes the law provisions governing the several types of employment contracts existing in our system, so that it becomes the sole source of reference for their discipline.

In doing that, the Decree confirms, among others, the rules on the liberalization of fixed-term employment and staff leasing, as introduced in our system at the beginning of 2014. Such contracts can therefore be freely used, without the need to justify their use on the basis of specific technical, organizational, production or replacement-related reasons, as it was in the past.

In this connection the legislator points out that if fixed-term agreements exceed 20% of the permanent headcount in force at the beginning of the year in which the hiring occurs (or the different maximum threshold established by collective agreements, also at company-level), the employer shall be sanctioned with an administrative fine only, and the conversion into open-term employment will be excluded.

More flexibility is granted also to part-time contracts and to the conversion of full-time into part-time and vice versa.

SUPPORT TO PARENTHOOD

Finally, Decree no. 80/2015 introduces on an experimental basis for 2015 new measures to support the parenthood of employees and self-employed people, in particular facilitating the use of leaves of absence for both mothers and fathers and encouraging teleworking.

1By statutory qualification it is intended either “Dirigente”, “Quadro”, “Impiegato” or “Operaio”.


DISCLAIMER

La presente Newsletter ha il solo scopo di fornire informazioni di carattere generale. Di conseguenza, non costituisce un parere legale né può in alcun modo considerarsi come sostitutivo di una consulenza legale specifica.