Government approves bill on the 35-hour week

Download article in original language : IT9803159NIT.DOC

On 24 March 1998, the Italian Government approved the bill on the reduction of the statutory working week from 40 to 35 hours, starting from 1 January 2001 in enterprises with more than 15 employees.

On 24 March 1998, the Italian Government approved the promised bill on the reduction of the statutory working week from 40 to 35 hours (IT9710133N) and passed it on to parliament for enactment. The bill provides that after 1 January 2001, normal weekly working hours in enterprises with more than 15 employees will be 35 hours. Collective bargaining is to decide on the distribution of hours, actual working hours and the consequences of the working time reduction for pay.

The bill foresees higher social security contributions levied on pay for the hours of work exceeding 35 hours per week, in order to encourage enterprises to make actual working hours coincide with the normal working hours of 35 hours. The bill also seeks to transpose the 1993 EU Directive on certain aspects of the organisation of working time (93/104/EC) (IT9711140N)

The social partners can agree on weekly working hours longer than 35 hours, though the hours exceeding 35 working hours will still be subject to the higher social security contributions. Furthermore, all working hours exceeding 40 per week will be considered overtime and will therefore attract a premium rate of pay as well as higher social security contributions.

For an experimental period the bill leaves considerable space for the intervention of the social partners and emphasises the role of collective bargaining "as an important and useful tool to regulate the working hours issue". The draft also provides the possibility for the Government, within the next two years, to amend the law based on the experiences of the social partners arising from the application/implementation of the 35-hour week in enterprises.

By 1 November 2000, the Government pledges to assess with the social partners the effects of the measures taken to foster the reduction of the working week in "relation to the economic and social situation of the different productive sectors and of the territorial areas". After this tripartite assessment, the Government will issue a consolidated text on working time that, in the light of experience, will update the whole existing legislative framework.

Confindustria and the all the other employers' associations strongly disapprove of the introduction of the bill (IT9803158N) while the Cgil, Cisl and Uil trade union confederations approve it cautiously (IT9711216F).

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