26 June 2020

Employment and related issues in the “relaunch decree”

1. Inclusion of the “Non-profit sector” (Terzo Settore) among the beneficiaries of the measures

With the Cura Italia decree, the legislator had “omitted” the Non-profit sector (NPOs), although the activities carried out by these entities, which were undoubtedly among those worthy of protection and of common/public interest.

The Relaunch Decree (RD) has rectified this and has provided an entire series of aid measures for these entities. On the one hand, the measures already envisaged for other types of entities (such as commercial enterprises) have been extended to the Non-profit sector; on the other, specific measures have also been provided for NPOs.

1.1. Funds for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE)

First of all, the DR has also extended to NPOs the provision contained in Cura Italia, which makes available funds from Invitalia (National Development Agency) for the purchase of personal protective equipment.

Thus, if an Ecclesiastical Entity has bought or intends to purchase personal protective equipment (such as gloves, masks, visors etc.), it can request reimbursement of 100% of the costs incurred through a specific Invitalia Call for applications.

Up to 500.00 euros per employee can be requested. The total amount of refunds requested cannot be less than 500.00 euros.

However, it should be noted that we are still waiting for Invitalia’s new call for applications since the NPOs were included among the beneficiaries at a later date. Therefore, we are expecting a change that allows us to submit the applications.

1.2. Tax credit for the adaptation of work environments

An incentive is provided to ensure that adaptation measures are effectively adopted in the workplace; this includes those relating to NPOs, in particular for activities carried out in places open to the public (such as for hotel and catering).

In particular, there is a tax credit equal to 60% of the expenses incurred in 2020 for the interventions needed to enforce the health requirements and the containment measures against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including:

  • Building interventions:
    • For the renovation of changing rooms and dining halls;
    • For the construction of medical spaces, entrances and common spaces;
  • Purchase of security furnishings;
  • Innovative activities:
    • Innovative investments such as the development or acquisition of tools and technologies necessary for carrying out the work activity (smart working)
    • Purchase of equipment for the checking of employees and users’ body temperatur

The amount of the tax credit, equal to 60% of the expenses incurred in 2020, cannot, however, exceed 80,000.00 euros.

1.3. Additional tax credit for the sanitization and purchase of protective devices

The possibility of a tax credit for maintenance and/or renewal, as mentioned above, is also provided for sanitization and the purchase of personal protective equipment (masks, face shields, gloves, etc.).

In particular, expenses for the sanitization of the environments and tools used will be entitled to the tax credit.

Again, there is a credit equal to 60% of the costs borne, although in this case, the maximum tax credit is equal to 60,000.00 euros.

2. The regularization of employment relationships

We now come to the provision that was most discussed before the final approval of the Relaunch Decree: the so-called regularization of foreign workers.

In reality, the rule does not apply only to foreign workers, but also to Italian workers with whom an irregular employment relationship exists (we speak of the “regularization of employment relationships” in general).

The intervention is expected to be considerable, although the categories of workers concerned are minimal.

There are two procedures. Let’s take a look at them.

2.1. The procedure for the employer (e.g. the Ecclesiastical Entity) who wants to regularize a contract or stipulate it legally

The first procedure concerns the employer who wants to sign a new contract of employment or report a contract which was illegally established.

This contract must be entered into with an employee specifically indicated by the employer (therefore, one cannot limit onself to “wanting” to hire in general and then choose the employee at a later time: there must be a serious intention to hire a specific and already identified person).

The person to be hired can be an Italian or foreign national. In the case of a foreigner, this person must have lived in the Italy before March 8, 2020.

A residence permit is not required. If the procedure is successful, it will remedy the lack of a residence permit. This procedure takes place at the immigration one-stop counter instituted in the prefectures.

2.1.1. The sectors affected

The sectors of activity for which employers can request the regularization are very limited, but at least two of these may be of interest to Ecclesiastical Entities:

  • Agriculture, livestock, animal husbandry and zootechnics, fishing and aquaculture, and related activities;
  • Assistance for oneself or for family members, even if not living together, suffering from pathologies or handicaps that limit their self-sufficiency (for example, a confrere or sister affected by serious pathologies or in any case by conditions of disability that in this way could be assisted by regularized staff);
  • Domestic work in support of family needs (for example, the extensive use that is made of personnel classified as domestic employees in the General Houses).

2.1.2. The employer’s income requirements

It is necessary to report that there are minimum income limits for the employer who wants to hire or declare an irregular employment relationship to avoid carrying out the procedures for the sole purpose of “putting in order” the foreigner (or rather, hiring him or her so that he or she can obtain a residence permit and then firing him or her).

Thus, for farmers, it is expected that the minimum income of the employer cannot be less than 30,000 euros. For domestic and personal care staff, however, it is expected that the minimum income cannot be less than 20,000 euros (or 27,000 euros cumulative with the income of the closest relatives).

In any case, there is no need to verify the income if the workers are hired by the employer affected by diseases or disabilities that limit self-sufficiency and who makes the declaration of regularization for a single worker in charge of his or her assistance. In this case, a sick confrere or sister, duly assisted and advised, could hire an employee for his or her care and assistance.

2.1.3. Expenses and contributions

These measures are a real amnesty and, as always happens for these types of interventions, they are subject to certain costs.

In fact, 500 euros (to be paid using the F24 form) must be paid for each worker to be regularized by the employer.

There is also a cost that has not yet been specified by the Ministry.

The law states that “a lump sum payment is also envisaged”. This contribution includes the so-called “back payment”, or rather, the payment of taxes and dues that should have been paid if the contract to be regularized was in order and that, instead, because the contract was undeclared, were not paid. However, this amount has not yet been established. The employer must make a commitment to pay, based on trust and with a specific statement, within ten days of the future decree that will establish the amount.

2.2. The procedure for foreigners with an expired residence permit

The legislation on regularization provides for specific regulations for foreigners with a residence permit expired since October 31, 2019.

Specifically, these subjects may of their own free will and initiative (therefore, the employer’s intervention is not required) ask for a six-month residence permit.

In this case, the procedure for irregular foreigners with a residence permit expired from October 31, 2019, not renewed or converted into another residence permit, takes place at the police headquarters (Questura).

The cost is lower (130.00 euros) and the foreigner who has thus independently obtained the documents will be able to look for work with, among others, Ecclesiastical Entities.

2.3. Exclusions

Finally, there are exclusions for these amnesties for those subjects who in the past have had a conduct incompatible with this regulation. Therefore, the following are excluded:

Employers sentenced in the past five years for the offense of aiding illegal immigration, aimed at recruiting people for prostitution or exploiting minors.

Foreign citizens who are the subjects of an expulsion order.

3. Housekeeper and caregiver bonus

The Relaunch Decree provides a bonus for employees with a domestic contract (such as domestic workers and caregivers).

Thus, for this category of workers, a monthly allowance of 500 euros is paid for both April and May 2020.

This allowance is enjoyed directly by the employee (it is an employee’s income support) and requires prerequisites to qualify for it. In particular, the prerequisites for this indemnity are as follows:

Must have an employment contract of at least 10 hours per week;

MUST NOT live together with the employer (therefore domestic workers of Ecclesiastical Bodies who are also hosted, for example, in the General House are excluded).

However, this allowance cannot be combined with the other allowances provided for the emergency or pensions (except for disability pensions); in the case of “citizenship income”, it can only integrate the latter and not be added to it.

Finally, this measure is incompatible with the regularization of irregular workers referenced above.

4. Extension of exceptional wages guarantee fund and increase in usability periods

Given the economic crisis triggered by the health crisis, it will be possible for employers who have already benefited from the nine weeks initially scheduled for the exceptional wages guarantee fund (we talked about it in our newsflash dated April 15, 2020), to use another five weeks of this form of wage supplementation, up to August 31, in addition to a four-week period for the months of September and October.

5. Aid in the form of wage subsidies

Finally, it should be noted (but the regulation will have to be integrated by the relevant bodies: Regions, Provinces, Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce) that, to avoid the possibility of layoffs due to the economic crisis from COVID-19, further help from Regions, Autonomous provinces, other territorial entities and chambers of commerce has been envisaged.

Starting February 1, 2020 (therefore also for the past period), it is possible to obtain subsidies for the payment of wages and salaries for employees at risk of dismissal up to 80% of the salary.

However, it is necessary to verify the individual provisions that the entities mentioned above will issue pursuant to the general law provision. In particular, what will be the economic/activity sectors that individual regions or other entities will identify as recipients of this measure.

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