The Fondo Nuove competenze – FNC (New Skills Fund) was introduced by article 88, paragraph 1, of the “Relaunch Decree” (Decree Law no. 34/2020) and subsequently amended by Article 4 of the August Decree (Decree Law no. 104/2020).
It is a tool with a twofold purpose introduced during the emergency – to allow workers to acquire new or increased skills and the tools needed to adapt to further labour market conditions and support companies adapting to the new organisational and production models brought about by the COVID-19 epidemiological emergency.
The FNC, set up at the Agenzia Nazionale delle Politiche Attive del Lavoro – ANPAL (National Agency for Active Employment Policies), provides resources for employee training hours costs, including the relevant social security and welfare contributions, subject to a rescheduling of working time.
By accessing the FNC the employer has an immediate advantage, i.e. a significant reduction in labour costs, with the possibility of combining a reduction in working hours with training, unlike other support methods, such as the redundancy fund.
The fund is open to all private employers who have stipulated collective agreements to reschedule working hours due to changes in the organisational and productive needs of the company.
The measure includes employees of companies eligible for the FNC financial contributions or staff leasing agency workers, for whom working time is reduced in exchange for participation in skills development courses under the collective agreement, but with the same salary considering the changes introduced to the labour market by the Covid emergency.
To access the FNC it is necessary to sign a trade union agreement at the company or regional level with the most representative trade unions nationally or the company trade union representatives (RSA) or the unitary trade union representative body (RSU) which identifies:
- the employer’s needs in terms of new or increased skills;
- the training projects aimed at developing skills;
- the number of workers involved
- the number of working hours to be allocated to skills development courses;
- when training is provided by the company, technical, physical and professional requirements of training capacity to carry out the project must be demonstrated.
In addition to the agreement with the trade unions (OOSS), it is necessary to draw up a project for skills development, which identifies the learning objectives, training recipients and providers, and course methods and duration.
Once the trade union agreement and the training project have been finalised, the companies can submit applications to ANPAL, requesting the reimbursement of labour costs (wages and contributions) for the training hours (up to a maximum of 250 hours per worker, to be carried out within 90/120 days).
It should be noted that the implementing Interministerial Decree of 9 October 2020, published on the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies website on 22 October, stated the deadline for signing collective agreements to access the Fund was 31 December 2020.
As announced by Minister Catalfo, there will be an extension that will make this interesting tool usable in 2021.
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