With its note no. 160 of 3 June 2020 the National Labour Inspectorate provided some clarifications concerning the amendments made to Decree Law no. 34/2020 (“Relaunch D.L.”)to D.L. no. 18/2020 (“Save Italy D.L.”) already converted by Law no. 27/2020, in order to help in the interpreter in an analysis of the various regulatory provisions that have been issued and overlapped in recent months.

The main indications provided by the Inspectorate regard the ban on dismissals as per art. 46 of the Save Italy Decree Law and the exceptional provisions on fixed-term contracts introduced during the Covid-19 emergency.

Amendments to art. 46 of the Save Italy Decree Law: collective and individual dismissals for justified objective reason

In terms of the first profile, the INL underlined that when the Save Italy decree was converted into law a specific exclusion was introduced by the ban on dismissals for contracts and, specifically, in the case where “the personnel involved in the termination, already employed in the contract, is rehired after take over by a new contractor”. This means – as explained in the note in question – that the ban on collective and individual dismissals for justified objective reason is not valid in cases where the new contractor absorbs the personnel employed in the contract. Instead, if the personnel is not reabsorbed this ban remains valid for the departing contractor.

Again in reference to dismissals, INL stated that the Relaunch Decree extended for five months. starting from 17 March 2020, the terms related to the relative ban: during this time period collective dismissal procedures cannot be started and pending ones, started after 23 February, are suspended for the same period.

Likewise, the ban on dismissals for objective justified reason as per article 7, Law 604/1966 has been extended for the same period, with the specification that dismissals for objective justified reason in progress are suspended.

No clarification was provided regarding the window of time that was created due to the delay in issuing Decree Law 34/2020 (19 May 2020) compared to the expiration of the original ban, 16 May, contained in the Decree Law 34/2020: it may be only subject to legal interpretations, despite the fact that it does not seem possible for the non-retroactivity of the laws to be exceeded.

Lastly, it stated that the Relaunch Decree Law introduced paragraph 1 bis that gives an employer who performed a dismissal for objective justified reason during the period from 23 February to 17 March 2020 the right to revoke the termination at any time as long as request is made at the same time for redundancy fund treatment starting from the date the dismissal became effective. In that case, the employment is considered restored without interruption and without charges or penalties for the employer.

Extension or renewal of fixed-term contracts: exception to art. 21 of Legislative Decree 81/2015

In terms of fixed-term contracts, INL provided explanations concerning the exception to art. 21 of the Legislative Decree 81/2015 introduced by the Relaunch Decree Law, which permits the renewal or extension of fixed-term employment contracts existing on 23 February 2020 until 30 August 2020, including in the absence of the reasons governed by art. 19, paragraph 1, Legislative Degree 81/2015.

With the note in question, INL explained that, for the purposes of “reasonless” extension or renewal as per the provision contained in the Relaunch Decree Law, two conditions must be met:

  • the fixed-term contract must be in existence at 23 February 2020 (so contracts signed for the first time after 23 February are excluded from this exception);
  • the extended or renewed employment contract must be terminated by 30 August 2020.

It is still obviously possible to provide for a “reasonless” extension even after 30 August as long as it does not exceed a period of 12 months.

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