Among the employment measures implemented (available at this link), the following are worth mentioning within the context of the real estate industry.
Suspension or reduction of working activity
Companies can have recourse to social shock-absorbers, that allow them to:
- either entirely suspend the employees’ working activity; or
- reduce the employees’ working time.
During suspension from work, or short time work programs, the state social security authority (Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale – “INPS”) makes up the pay of the affected employees up to certain thresholds. There are different types of social shock-absorbers, depending on the headcount and on the business sector in which the company operates, and each is governed by different rules and procedures.
Cassa integrazione guadagni ordinaria “CIGO” and ordinary allowance (assegno ordinario)
CIGO treatment and ordinary allowance, initially provided for up to a maximum of 9 weeks for the period 23 February 2020- 31 August 2020, have been extended for further 5 weeks by Law Decree no. 19/2020 (the so-called “Rilancio” Decree”) for those companies which have already used in full the initial 9 weeks. A further period of 4 weeks can be requested starting from 1 September 2020.
Companies that suspend or reduce working activity for Covid-19 emergency-related events may apply for access to CIGO provided by INPS, or access to an ordinary allowance (i.e., monetary performance that provides support to employees’ income for companies which fall outside the scope of the supplemental fund (cassa integrazione)) provided by the Salary Supplementation Fund (FIS).
CIGO applies to companies working in the industrial and mechanical sector, while FIS to a vast majority of Italian companies, not joining CIGO/CIGS nor a different Fund provided for by the applicable CBA.
In order to understand if the company falls under CIGO or FIS, the company should check whether contributions are paid to one of those subsidies.
The application for the admission to CIGO treatment or for ordinary allowance must be submitted electronically with INPS by the end of the month following the month when the suspension or reduction in work activity has started.
Derogated CIG treatment, initially provided for up to a maximum of 9 weeks for the period 23 February 2020-31 August 2020, have been extended for further 5 weeks by the Rilancio Decree for those companies which have already used in full the initial 9 weeks. A further period of 4 weeks can be requested starting from 1 September 2020.
The Regions and the autonomous Provinces, with respect to companies in relation to which protections under applicable law for suspension or reduction of the working hours do not apply (not CIGO nor FIS apply), may entitle such companies to access Derogated CIG treatments, by previous arrangement with the trade unions. This union agreement is not required for companies comprised of up to 5 employees.
Before submitting the application for Derogated CIG, the Company should check the relevant Regional agreement (agreement signed by the Region and the unions), in which every Region has detailed the cases and the procedure to file the request.
Measures to support companies
Suspension of deadlines for tax and social security obligations
For companies most affected by the Covid-19 emergency (among which, tourist-accommodation companies, travel agencies, associations and sports clubs, catering activities, etc.), the deadlines for the payment of withholding tax and social security contributions due with respect to employees' salaries are suspended starting from 17 March 2020 until 30 April 2020. These payments may be made, without the application of penalties and interest, in a single instalment to be paid by 16 September 2020 or by instalments up to a maximum of 4 equal monthly instalments, starting from 16 September 2020.
In addition, according to the so-called Liquidità Decree, payment of withholding tax and social security contributions due on employees’ salaries payable in April and May 2020 is suspended for companies which had a revenue reduction, as detailed below.
- Businesses which suffered a revenue reduction of at least 33% in March and April 2020, compared with the same months of year 2019.
- Businesses which suffered a revenue reduction of at least 50% in March and April 2020, compared with the same months of year 2019, and which had revenues higher than EUR 50 million in year 2019.
The payment is also suspended for all companies which started their activities after 31 March 2019.
Suspended payments shall be made in a single payment by 16 September 2020 or in up to 4 monthly instalments starting from 16 September 2020.
Until the end of the emergency period and in any case until 31 December 2020, employers may decide unilaterally to have their employees work in “agile mode” without requiring their consent. Therefore, a refusal by the employee is strictly sanctioned.
Employers are not released from the obligation to deliver, either electronically or otherwise, the relevant health and safety policy to agile employees, including, where applicable, risk-related measures specific to Covid-19 (e.g., to avoid working in public/crowded places) with the involvement of Safety Managers and Inspectors (RSSP) and the relevant general practitioner.
The Rilancio Decree has introduced a right to work in “agile mode” in favor of parents who have at least one child under the age of 14, provided that the duties to be performed are compatible with said “agile mode”.
Prohibition of dismissal
The Rilancio Decree has extended the employer prohibition of dismissal up until 17 August 2020. In particular, employers are prohibited from dismissing their employees for objective justifiable reasons (i.e., organizational reasons for a reduction or suspension of activities due to the Covid-19 emergency), regardless of the number of occupied workers. The Rilancio Decree has also specified that any mandatory conciliation attempts in front of the competent Labor Office – applicable to employers with a number of employees equal to or greater than 15 employees, that intend to dismiss employees hired before 7 March 2015 for a justified objective reason - are suspended until 17 August 2020.
During the same period employers with a number of employees equal to or greater than 15 may not initiate collective dismissal procedures (applicable by companies who, as a result of business or activities reduction or transformation, intends to make at least 5 dismissals over 120 days). All of the pending collective dismissal procedures initiated as of 23 February 2020, are hereby suspended.
Finally, the Rilancio Decree has introduced the possibility for the employer who, between 23 February 2020 and 17 March 2020, served dismissals for justified objective reason, to revoke said dismissals at any time, provided that the employer simultaneously requests access to social shock absorbers, starting from the effective date of the dismissal.