Combating undeclared work and promoting safety in construction, Italy

About

Country: 
Italy
Sectors: 
Construction and woodworking
Target Groups: 
employers/purchasers

To combat undeclared work and improve workplace safety in the building industry, Article 36bis of Law No. 248/2006 introduced ‘Urgent measures to fight undeclared labour and to promote safety measures in workplaces’. A number of sanctions can be applied to employers found to be using undeclared labour.

Background

The Italian building and construction sector is characterised by a high number of undeclared workers. Data of the National Statistics Institute (Istituto Nazionale di Statistica, Istat) from 2002 highlight that in this sector of the economy irregular labour amounts to 13.9% of the entire labour force. In southern Italy, the percentage of undeclared workers in this sector as a proportion of the labour force is even higher (27.4%), with the highest proportion concentrated in the region of Calabria in southern Italy (41.1%).

The high incidence of undeclared work in the building and construction sector represents the main reason why the government mostly focuses its activities on this sector, which is also strongly linked to public works contracts.

To combat undeclared work in the building industry, Article 36bis of Law No. 248/2006 introduced ‘Urgent measures to fight undeclared labour and to promote safety measures in workplaces’.

The actors involved in the implementation of the project include the:

  • Ministry for Labour and Social Security (Ministero del Lavoro e della Previdenza Sociale);
  • National Social Security Institute (Istituto Nazionale Previdenza Sociale, Inps);
  • Italian Workers’ Compensation Authority (Istituto Nazionale per l’assicurazione contro gli infortuni sul lavoro, Inail);
  • workers and employers.

The initiative to combat undeclared work and improve workplace safety began in January 2006 and is still ongoing. The main target group of the project includes building companies applying the national collective labour agreement (Contratto Collettivo Nazionale di Lavoro, CCNL) for the construction sector.

Objectives

The main objectives of the project are to combat undeclared work in the building industry and promote workplace safety.

Specific measures

In achieving the core objectives, a number of measures have been introduced.

  • Any building site will be closed if, as a result of a workplace inspection, over 20% of the workforce is found to be undeclared or if working conditions – such as safety at work or working hours – are found to be irregular. Inspections are carried out by representatives of the Ministry for Labour and Social Security. Inps and Inail can also ask for inspections to be carried out.
  • Employers must provide workers with an appropriate identification card showing their photo, indicating both the name of the worker and of the employer. In the case of infringement of this requirement, the employer will receive an administrative sanction of €100 to €500 for each worker without such an ID card. Similarly, the worker will be fined an amount between €50 and €300.
  • Employers must inform the local employment office of the recruitment of a worker or changes affecting an employment contract the day before such a change takes place, providing exact dates of any changes on the letter of communication. The rule aims to prevent that workers are regularised on the day an occupational accident occurs.
  • In addition to the administrative sanctions already in place, employers of undeclared workers who do not appear in any accounting records or other official company documentation will be punished in the form of an administrative sanction of €1,500 to €12,000 for each worker, increased by €150 for each day worked.

Evaluation and outcome

So far, no evaluation of the project has been carried out. As a result, no information is yet available on the outcomes of this initiative or potential problems that may arise.

Transferability

Measures similar to this one can also be found in other countries, for instance in the Netherlands or in Poland.

Main organisations responsible: Inps and Inail

Websites: www.inps.it and www.inail.it

Liliana Bàculo and Sara Gaudino

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