It was 21 February 2020 where a young man was officially declared infected by COVID-19 in Italy, and after a couple of weeks the entire Italian territory was impacted by the COVID-19 epidemiologic emergency: Italy was declared a "red zone" and the lockdown started.
In March and April, the Italian Government issued a number of decrees focused on the identification of businesses allowed to continue even during the lockdown phase, as well as on the implementation of urgent measures relating to health, work and economics, as well as social policies. Close to the beginning of the so-called Phase 2 (4 May 2020, where the lockdown restrictions are gradually easing) and recently on 19 May 2020, the Italian Government issued new pieces of legislation providing measures supporting the recovery of the Italian economy (for the time being, employment-related measures would be granted until August 2020).
The COVID-19 legislation provides several measures focused on employers and employees, strongly impacted by the health crisis. From one hand, the Government has allowed employers impacted by COVID-19 to apply for the so-called cassa integrazione
(a special State allowance substituting the employees' salary, where reduced because of the total or partial suspension of the working activity) for a maximum period of 14 weeks, to be taken between 23 February and 31 August 2020; at the same time, employers are prohibited from implementing dismissals for redundancy until 17 August 2020. Other measures concern special leave for employees-parents with children up to 16 years, payment of bonuses for baby-sitting or other childhood services, and payment of allowances to certain self-employed persons.
From lockdown to return to work
The Italian Government has issued several guidelines regulating health measures to be implemented by employers for countering and containing the COVID-19 spread in the workplace. Indeed, it is a priority to balance the employers' need to restart their business and their obligation to provide employees with health and safety in the workplace.
Employers are authorised to re-start their business only to the extent their premises are COVID-secure and the workforce is granted with appropriate level of protection (in the lack of which, the business and activities are all suspended until these measures are implemented).
The Italian Government has invited employers, at the same time, to implement extraordinary organisational arrangement – such as reduction or suspension of the working activity with the benefit of the cassa integrazione
or have employees continuing their activity from home – if needed for the workforce's health and safety, or required during the preparations to ensure their premises are secure.
Employers are now requested to change working arrangements such as access to the premises and common areas, cleaning activities, requiring employees to take personal hygiene precautions, granting distances and individual protection devises, rearrange working shifts and transfers. Policies shall be implemented and updated, with the involvement of unions and other persons covering certain roles under Italian Health and Safety Act, and in the light with Government and Data Protection Authority's guidelines.
To support employers with their return to work planning, we have prepared a step by step guide on the key measures and employment checklist.
Please see our Italy employment checklist for a step by step guide on the key measures to consider >
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