Italy: Latest working life developments – Q2 2017

Changes to state employment, a new youth traineeship framework and an agreement to halt the off-shoring of call centres 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 2017.

The Madia reform: Changes to state employment

The 2016–2017 state employees reform introduced a special program to overcome the long-running problem concerning those employed under fixed-term contracts. Under certain terms and conditions, these workers will in future be considered as state employees, with open-ended employment contracts. The terms and conditions require these workers to successfully pass public recruitment competitions. It is also required, as a preliminary condition, that workers have worked at least three of the last eight years for the state administration. Furthermore, candidates will be evaluated on the basis of qualifications such as PhDs, Masters and undergraduate degrees.

The 2016–2017 reform also reshaped the function of the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). It is worth noting that, contrary to the previous reform of 2009 reform (the Brunetta reform), the law (re-)assigns to the CBAs the power to define organisational items at firm level. This should facilitate industrial relations and improve ongoing negotiations.

The new state employees reform does not encompass the Jobs Act legal regime concerning individual dismissal or the reshaped reinstatement rules of 2015. This means that state employees will be not subject to the dismissal regime of the Jobs Act (which includes a variety of sanctions – from reinstatement to indemnities), and that they will be entitled to the pre-2015 reinstatement regime (i.e. reinstatement in all circumstances).

A new traineeship framework for young people

In May 2017, the state and the regions launched a new framework agreement that introduces measures to prevent fraudulent activities and abuse regarding young people’s traineeships. There are two main principles: traineeships must involve trainees only in those activities that the relevant collective bargaining agreement has fixed or allowed; and young trainees cannot be used to replace employees.

The 2017 framework amends the 2013 framework and is supported by social partners on both sides – the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), the Italian Confederation of Workers' Unions (CISL), the Italian Labour Union (UIL), along with the General Confederation of Italian Industry (Confindustria), the Italian General Confederation of Enterprises, Professions and Self-Employment (Confcommercio), the Italian Italian Confederation of Businesses in the Trade, Tourism, and Service Sectors (Confesercenti), the National Confederation of the Craft Sector and Small and Medium Enterprises (CNA), Confartigianato, and Alliance of Italian Cooperatives (Alleanza Cooperative Italiane).

The agreement sets out a range of sanctions against companies that do not comply with its provisions or with the provisions of the 2013 framework, and against those who have abused the traineeship system or used it in a fraudulent way. The traineeship allowance is related to regional rules, with training set and verified by the National Labour Inspectorate. Penalties such as fines (and the reinstatement of dismissed trainees) may be imposed on companies that breach the regulations.

Call centre reshoring agreement

In May 2017, the most significant corporations in the IT, transport, banking and energy sectors – including Trenitalia, Unicredit, ENI, ENEL, TELECOM and WIND – signed an agreement with the Italian government aimed at avoiding the offshoring of call centres. In recent years, many call centres have been moved to countries such as Albania and Romania where labour costs are considerably lower. The new agreement aims to avert massive layoffs of Italian call-centre workers by employers servicing the IT, transport, banking and energy sectors. The agreement states that these businesses will seek to ensure that at least 80% of their activities are based in Italy.

Trade unions CGIL, CISL and UIL are monitoring the implementation of the agreement and have asked the government to introduce legislation to ensure that price, including the cost of labour, is not the only evaluation criterion in public or private sector bids and tendering.

Commentary

Negotiations were due to begin between Confindustria and CGIL, CISL and UIL in early July to reshape the 2011–2014 Industrial Relations Agreement. The main points for discussion concern: to whom national collective bargaining agreements (NCBAs) apply; and the criteria for measuring unions’ representativeness at national level.

Confindustria wishes to redefine the NCBAs' area of competence to extend its own capacity to negotiate on behalf of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the trade, service and craft sectors (terziario and artigianato). Such sectors are currently represented by Confcommercio, Confesercenti, Alleanza Cooperative Italiane, CNA and Confartigianato. Given Italy’s tradition in industrial relations, CGIL, CISL and UIL have asked to open negotiations with SME employers' organisations to ensure that they are willing to discuss this issue.

On the criteria for measuring union representativeness, the difficulty is that these have not been fully implemented and this has potentially critical consequences for the application of the agreement. The social partners are currently investigating possible solutions.

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