On 17 October 2022, Italian Legislative Decree No 149/2022, implementing Italian Delegated Law No 206/2021, was published in the Italian Official Gazette, under which the reform of the civil litigation proceedings is also extended to the rules governing employment proceedings.
The objective is to reorganise and consolidate the various changes that, in recent years, have been made to employment proceedings, so as to overcome the current proliferation and, in some cases, overlapping procedures, dealing with appeals against dismissal.
Among the provisions of interest, the most notable is that from the entry into force of the new reform, i.e. from 1 July 2023, the Fornero procedure (paragraphs from 47 to 69 of Article 1 of Italian Law No 92/2012) no longer applies. Furthermore, with particular reference to the new regulations applicable to employment disputes, the introduction into the Italian Code of Civil Procedure of a new chapter I-bis, entitled ‘Disputes concerning dismissal’ is envisaged.
Specifically, new Article 441-bis establishes that, in relation to parties’ submissions’ hearings for the decision of disputes appealing dismissals with a request for reinstatement, including disputes relating to the classification of the employment relationship, the judge may reduce the timeframes for the proceedings by up to 50%, without prejudice to the minimum term of 20 days between the defendant receiving notice of the appeal and the fixing of the hearing.
The powers granted to the judge to expedite the proceedings also extend to parties’ submissions’ hearing. In particular, it sets out that at the submissions hearing the judge will order, with a view to expedition of the proceedings, and which may also be proposed by the parties, the joinder of any related and counter-claims, or their separation. The judge’s decisions must in any case ensure the consolidation of the preliminary investigation and the decision-making phase in relation to the applications for reinstatement.
The same requirements are also extended to appeal and cassation proceedings: the last paragraph of Article 441-bis provides, in fact, that appeals against dismissal are decided taking into account ‘the same needs of expedition and consolidation’.
To date, however, it has not yet been indicated whether the so-called ‘fast track’ introduced by the new Article 441-bis will involve a preliminary judgment on the merits of the application, or whether it will be sufficient for the applicant to claim the right to reinstatement in the workplace. Reinstatement that, in any case, especially for those hired with contracts with increased worker protections (i.e., after 7 March 2015), is still very rare, despite numerous rulings by both the Italian Constitutional Court and the Italian Court of Cassation.
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