Central agreement on temporary agency work signed

In April 1998, Italy's central social partner organisations, with the participation of the Ministry of Labour, signed an agreement regulating the the use of temporary agency work, which has recently been permitted for the first time.

The Cgil, Cisl and Uil trade union confederations and the Confindustria employers' organisation - with the participation of the Minister of Labour, Tiziano Treu- signed an agreement on 16 April 1998 defining the rules and the procedures to be applied in order for enterprises to use temporary agency work (lavoro interinale). Temporary agency work is a new phenomenon in Italy, having been introduced by law for the first time in 1997 (IT9801147N)

Temporary work will be allowed in three cases:

  1. for intense periods of production - for example, due to large orders or to the launch of new products;
  2. for the implementation of a project, the provision of a service or the execution of a contract within a fixed period of time that cannot be accomplished by the existing personnel of the enterprise; or
  3. for the production of a particular order or of a special product which requires the employment of particularly skilled workers having competences different from the workers available in the enterprise.

Temporary agency workers must not exceed, in any quarter, an average of 8% of the total number of a firm's workers with open-ended contracts. In small enterprises, there must be no more than five temporary agency workers and they must not, in any event, exceed the total number of workers with open-ended contracts.

Temporary employment will be allowed only where for skills are required which are not found within the "intermediate" category of skilled workers (it is possible to hire young people on work/training contract to fill the latter category of jobs). Any training activities organised by an enterprise for its workers must also be provided for temporary agency workers. Pay determination for agency workers will be the subject of company-level bargaining.

Two procedures are foreseen for the use of temporary agency workers by employers:

  • under the "normal" procedure, the employer must communicate in advance to the plant-level trade union representation structure (Rappresentanza sindacale unitaria, Rsu) or, in the absence of this body, to the territorial union organisations, the number of temporary agency workers to be used and the reasons they are required; and
  • in urgent cases, the communication to the Rsu or unions is to be made within three days after the temporary agency workers are hired.

Once every year the enterprise must communicate to the employers' association to which it belongs the number of contracts that have been signed and the reasons why temporary workers have been required, specifying also the length of time covered by these contracts, and the number and the qualifications of the workers involved.

Confindustria and the union confederations consider the agreement as a first step. Additional conditions for the use of temporary agency workers will be defined during further talks, thought these will be subsidiary to national sectoral collective bargaining, which is responsible for the detailed definition of the rules regulating temporary work. The agreement was welcomed with satisfaction by both sides. According to Francesco Salvaggio, secretary general of Assointerim, the employers' association representing temporary employment agencies, the agreement represents a good basis for all those contracts which would otherwise have been blocked due to the lack of rules in this area (quoted in Il Sole 24 Ore, 18 April 1998).

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