10 real-world questions on Italian short-time work
Our company was closed by order of the public authorities due to the CoVid-19 emergency: are we still required to pay our employees? Can we obtain any reimbursement by the Government?
Yes, companies must continue paying employees.
However, in cases where working activity is suspended or reduced in connection with the Coronavirus emergency, companies may apply for a Governmental salary integration. Pursuant to Law by Decree No. 18/2020, issued on March 17, 2020, industrial companies may apply to Cassa Integrazione Guadagni or CIG and commercial companies may apply to Fondo d’Integrazione Salariale or FIS, by indicating “emergency COVID-19” without further explanations on the reasons for the reduction of the business activity.
Law by Decree No. 18/2020 also introduced a form of derogation CIG for those companies that would have normally been excluded from any form of short-time work schemes.
Such instruments allow the employer to suspend the working activities or reduce the working hours, thus reducing the costs relating to the workforce, with INPS (the Italian social security agency) bearing the cost of the employees’ wages.
Are salary integrations equal to the employees’ normal salary? If not, can the employer pay the difference?
Salary integration is set at 80% of the total remuneration that would have been due to the worker for the hours not worked, not to exceed the following monthly caps: Euro 939.89 for salaries up to Euro 2,159.48, and Euro 1,199.72 for salaries over Euro 2,159.48.
Employers can make up the difference by paying a top-up to the ordinary salary without calling into question the state benefits.
In order to apply for salary integration, must the employer obtain the trade unions’ consent?
An information, consultation and joint examination process must be carried out with the Trade Unions.
The execution of a written agreement is not mandatory.
Before applying for salary integration, must employees first take any accrued holidays/vacation time and leaves?
No, it is not necessary. However, during the emergency state connected to the spread of Covid-19, pursuant to the Protocol executed on March 14, 2020 between the Italian Government, the Trade Unions and the Entrepreneurial Associations, the employer can force the employees to use paid leaves of absence and, secondarily, accrued holidays/vacation time.
Our company requested salary integration for the maximum duration (9 weeks), can we call back the employees to work during that period? After the request, can we decide to suspend/reduce only some employees?
The use of the salary integration is self-administered by the employer. This means that, once the company has obtained the 9 weeks of salary integration, it is up to the employer when to have employees come back to work or to just partially reduce the working hours.
Our company is reducing the working activity and has applied for salary integration. Should the choice on the workers to suspend be based on specific criteria?
Even though the law does not set forth specific criteria to choose the employees to suspend or whose working activity is reduced, the company shall choose on the basis of objective criteria linked to the reasons for the suspension/reduction of the activity. Otherwise, the employees could claim before the Labor Court that he/she suffered discrimination.
Salary integration for COVID-19 can be requested for a maximum period of 9 weeks. Does such period refer to the company or to each affected employee?
The period of 9 weeks applies to the company, which means that it can be used for as many employees as the company requires but within the same defined 9 weeks period.
If an employee gets sick during the suspension/reduction of working activity and while receiving salary integration, is he/she entitled to the ordinary salary?
If the salary integration is a result of the company completely suspending its business activities(100% reduction of the working hours for all employees), the salary integration still applies in cases of sickness and the employee does not need to report his/her sickness.
On the other hand, in case of partial reduction of business activities, the employee must report his/her sickness and he/she is entitled to sickness pay. This implies that the employer must pay the full salary, but then will be reimbursed by INPS (the Italian social security agency) in the amount of the sickness indemnity subsidized by the payment of social security taxes.
Are employees whose working activity has been suspended/reduced and are receiving salary integration entitled to holidays/vacation time? If so, are they also entitled to ordinary salary?
If the salary integration is a result of the company completely suspending its business activities, the employer can reject requests for holidays/vacation time.
On the other hand, in cases of partial reduction of the business activities, the employee has the right to use accrued holidays/vacation time and to receive their full salary during such holidays.
Some of our employees are on maternity leave. Shall we require the salary integration for them as well?
No, since the indemnity for maternity leave prevails on the salary integration, they will continue receiving the former.