Italy: Latest working life developments – Q2 2016

Measures to amend and implement the Jobs Act, national-level tripartite and bipartite agreements, and progress in negotiations to renew national collective bargaining agreements covering public employees are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Italy in the second quarter of 2016. 

New provisions implementing or amending the Jobs Act

The government has recently approved important measures implementing or amending provisions of the Jobs Act. Specficially, it has approved the statutes of the National Agency for Active Labour Market Policies (ANPAL) and the National Labour Inspectorate. The agencies are expected to put into practice two key goals of the reform of the Jobs Act (Act no. 183/2014) – namely, coordinating and monitoring active labour market policies at national level and streamlining labour inspections, currently assigned to three different authorities.

The government also amended the Jobs Act, the main change concerning mini-jobs that can be ‘purchased’ by means of labour vouchers. The employer is now obliged to give advance notification of the exact times for the work activity (by means of an online platform). Previously, only the worker’s personal details and workplace had to be notified in advance, while the hourly working activity purchased with the voucher could be carried out within a period of 30 days from the notification.

The provision is in response to mounting criticism about the risk of misuse of labour vouchers to hide undeclared work in cases of inspections or accidents at work.

Public authorities, social partners and NGOs to act jointly in tackling  exploitation

The government, regions, social partners and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have signed a protocol that sets out experimental measures addressing the role of gang masters and exploitation in agriculture. The protocol aims to support the coordination and mutual strengthening of the activities of the signatory parties to implement information, first aid, and legal and social support services at local level, as well as to provide farmworkers with public transport to their workplace. The intention is to eliminate unlawful activities by gang masters in workforce recruitment and transport.

A bill is currently under discussion in Parliament that aims to implement robust measures to combat exploitation in agriculture.

Updates on negotiations covering public sector workers

On 5 April 2016, an agreement was reached by the social partners in the public sector to amend the classification of economic activities adopted by collective bargaining. As a result, the number of bargaining areas will be reduced from 12 to 4; these will be central government, local government, healthcare and education.

In June 2016, the Minister for Public Administration and Simplification, Marianna Madia, announced her intention to open negotiations with trade unions on the renewal of national collective bargaining agreements. Negotiations, after a seven-year freeze on collective bargaining and wages, will cover about two million workers.

Current debate and forthcoming developments

The government recently started consultations with the unions about a possible reform of the pension system. This meets a long-awaited demand to discuss a flexibilisation of retirement provisions, with the retirement age generally set at 66 years and 7 months (or 42 years and 10 months of service) regardless of occupation. However, unions criticise the government’s main proposal to permit early retirement upon a worker's getting access to a bank loan to cover related costs.

There is also mounting debate also about the constitutional reform referendum to be held next October. Under the reform, the following changes would take place.

  • The Chamber of Deputies and the Senate will no longer share the same competences and legislative power. Instead, the Senate, composed of representatives of local authorities, with  limited decision-making functions, would have competences mainly concerning the relationships between the government and the local authorities. 
  • The prerogatives of the regions would be reduced in favour of the central government.
  • The government would gain the power to impose deadlines on parliamentary discussions dealing with draft acts of fundamental importance.

Unions and employer organisations have reacted differently to this, with some appreciating the overall attempt to speed up the legislation process and others criticising the centralisation of the power in the hands of the government.

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