Coronavirus: the Italian Labor Inspectorate launches checks on the usage of emergency benefits
Pursuant to the emergency regulations issued in the last months, Italy has allocated substantial public funds to support companies affected by the crisis resulting from the health emergency caused by COVID-19. Now that the most severe stage of the emergency seems to have been overcome, with the note no. 532 of June 12th, 2020, the Labor Office has instructed its inspectors to initiate checks on the correct usage by companies of the benefits and funds allocated. What criteria should be followed in the checks?
The Labor Office’s note no. 532 dated June 12th, 2020, provides the inspective bodies of the Labor Ministry with a series of instructions relating to the procedures for verifying the correct usage, by the employers, of the benefits linked to the COVID-19 emergency.
The note starts with a brief summary of the main novelties introduced by Decree Law no. 34 of May 19th, 2020 (the so-called “Relaunch Decree”), making reference to the extension of the emergency wage guarantee treatments’ maximum duration. The note underlines that such provisions must be read taking into account the content of the newly enacted Decree Law no. 52 of June 16th, 2020, which entitles all companies that had already used the 14 weeks of additional wage guarantee treatment before August 31st, 2020 (consisting of the 5 weeks introduced by the Relaunch Decree in addition to the first 9 weeks already provided for by the first emergency regulations) to benefit immediately of the 4 more weeks which were originally available only for the period from September 1st to October 31st , 2020.
After the brief summary of the relevant legislation, the note highlights the importance of conducting widespread investigations aimed at verifying the correct use of the resources provided by the Italian Government to fund wage guarantee funds accessible to face the spread of COVID-19.
The Labor Office points out that the above-mentioned monitoring activities will need to be carried out by Regional Commissions that will be called to exercise their monitoring power over companies that have requested access to the ordinary wage guarantee fund (so-called “CIGO”), to the FIS wage fund or to the additional temporary wage guarantee fund (so-called “CIG in Deroga”).
The above powers should also be exercised towards seasonal workers of the tourism and wellness sector as well as towards agricultural workers and self-employed workers who have applied for income support allowances.
The Labor Office also underlines that the aforementioned subjects shall be identified on the basis of the lists provided directly by Italian Social Security Institution (so-called “INPS”) and that particular attention will be paid towards a number of companies in the light of the sector where they operate or to their specific conduct.
In particular, the Labor Office invites inspectors to accurately monitor:
· companies operating in sectors that have not suffered serious working activities’ interruptions;
· companies that have continued operating despite the emergency restrictive measures and
· companies that have filed retroactive requests making reference to the period immediately before the enactment of the Governmental Decrees.
Moreover, specific attention will need to be paid towards hirings, employment transformations or re-qualifications relating to periods immediately preceding the requests for access to the temporary lay-off schemes and towards companies that have filed a request for a wage treatment whilst having placed their employees in smart working.
In addition to the above, all monitoring activities will in any case have to consider the total number of employees for whom the companies have requested access to the wage treatments and if the companies have or have not notified INPS with their intention to resume their working activities.
Lastly, interregional inspectors will be delegated to monitor the above-mentioned inspective activities.