On 7 December, the social partners and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies signed the “National Protocol on remote working” (the “Protocol“).
As stated in the introduction, the protocol“establishes the reference framework for the definition of remote working by expressing guidelines for national, corporate and local collective bargaining in compliance with the legal framework set out in Law 22 May 2017, no. 81 and existing collective agreements, entrusting collective bargaining with what is necessary to implement the different and specific production frameworks.”
The main guidelines
Firstly, the Protocol clarifies that applying remote working must be voluntary and must be subject to signing an individual agreement without prejudice to the right of withdrawal. Any refusal by the worker to perform remote working does not constitute dismissal for just cause or justified reason, nor is it relevant from a disciplinary point of view.
The individual agreement must regulate aspects such as
Remote working does not require a precise working time but independence within the pre-established objectives and respect for the organisation and assigned tasks to ensure company operability and interconnection between the various business departments. This independence was found in the choice of workplace. However, the Protocol clarifies: “the service performance […] can be divided into time slots, identifying […] the disconnection time in which the worker does not work.” ” technical and organisational measures must guarantee the disconnection period.”
The Protocol points out that, as a rule, the employer provides the technological and IT equipment necessary for remote working. If it is agreed to use personal tools, it is necessary to establish adequate security criteria and requirements.
The Protocol requires the worker to process personal data accessed for professional purposes under employer instructions. To ensure compliance with personal data protection legislation and confidentiality, the employer must:
During remote working, the employer must ensure health and safety by providing the worker, and RLS (Workers’ Safety Representative) written information describing the general and specific risks associated with remote working. The Protocol states that the worker continues to be entitled to protection against accidents at work and occupational diseases, risks related to work performed outside the company premises, even if this is remote working.
The employer must (i) provide training courses aimed at increasing specific technical, organisational and digital skills for the effective and safe use of the work tools provided and (ii) guarantee compulsory training on the protection of workers’ health and safety and personal data.
The Protocol provides guidelines as a reference framework for future national, corporate or local collective bargaining, without prejudice to existing and individual agreements.
Other related insights:
The National Labour Inspectorate (“INL”) issued two notes, one shortly after the other, used to provide the first clarifications concerning the inspection procedures for worksites in light of the pertinent guidelines, shared in the “Joint Protocol on regulation of measures for contrasting and containing the spread of the Covid-19 virus” (the “Protocol”) signed by the stakeholders on 14 March 2020 (recently updated last 24 April).
Note 131 of 10 April 2020
Note no. 131 of 10 April 2020 has the objective of making workplace conduct uniform and consistent including due to the evolution of the pertinent emergency regulatory framework. A regulatory framework which, as should be recalled, has:
According to the INL inspection activity will be primarily focussed on implementation procedures, by the employers, of organisational and management procedures set up by the authorities and subject matter of the aforesaid Protocol.
It was further explained that the professionalism of the inspectors may be useful also in terms facilitation, mediation, deflation and verification of the processes for using public resources dedicated to support for families, workers, companies and credit, such as those to access social safety nets.
Note 149 of 20 April 2020
With the subsequent note no. 149 of 20 April 2020, INL provided further explanations concerning its inspectors’ control procedures on observance of the conditions required to continue production, industrial and commercial activities.
The note states that the Inspectors must perform inspection activities in close collaboration with the competent offices of the Local Healthcare Agencies, and with which they must previously establish a plan containing lists of companies to focus controls on. This is also envisaged to make it easier to correctly identify the objectives to pursue. However, should the inspectors find themselves faced with clear violations of a certain seriousness and urgency, requiring immediate on-site inspections, they may still perform them even without compliance with the aforesaid procedure.
In addition, the note specifies that for these types of inspections, the selection of inspectors to use must primarily be done on a voluntary basis and, above all, they must be provided with personal protection equipment suitable for the purpose.
Lastly, the note contains annexes such as (i) “guidelines for inspections on the anti-contagion protocol”, (ii) a report form for access and inspection entitled “Covid-19”, (iii) a list of personal protection equipment (PPE), with relative instructions for use for inspection personnel and, lastly, (iv) a check list with the inspections to perform; this is a type of questionnaire with yes/no answers to be filled out by the inspector.
In terms of punishment, if the inspectors find failure to comply with one or more of the prevention measures in the “Protocol”, they will not proceed by imposing a sanction on the employer. They must transmit the results of the inspection to the competent Prefecture, i.e. the access report and filled in check list, summarising the omissions and/or failures they found for adoption of any pertinent measures. It is then up to the Prefecture, based on this report, to adopt any measures, including of an interdictory nature, applied to the company.