Relaunch Decree: automatic extension for fixed-term contracts
On 18 July 2020, the law converting the so-called “Relaunch Decree” (Decree no. 34/2020) was published in the Italian Official Law Gazette (“Gazzetta Ufficiale”) with a number of relevant amendments relating to the fixed term contacts’ regulation. The law has provided that employees hired under apprenticeship contracts, fixed-term contracts and temporary ones (e.g. staff leasing) are automatically extended for a period equivalent to the period for which the relevant employees were suspended from their activity due to the epidemiological emergency measures.
Law no. 77/2020 has been enacted on 18 July. Among the main novelties, the conversion law impacted on the temporary layoff regulation (“Cassa Integrazione Guadagni”) by providing for the possibility to immediately use the nine additional weeks that, according to the original version of the Decree, should have been used in two installments, the first one (four weeks) until 31 August2020 and the additional five ones starting from 1 September . The conversion law cancelled this condition and as consequence, in order to benefit from the nine additional weeks provided by the Relaunch Decree is only required to have already used up all the 14 weeks of temporary layoff, provided for by the “Cura Italia” Decree.
The Relaunch Decree has introduced, by way of derogation from the ordinary rules governing fixed term contracts, the possibility to renew or extend until 30 August 2020, all existing fixed-term employment agreements even in the absence of the specific temporary and objective reasons required by the Law.
In addition to the above, the law has provided that employees hired under apprenticeship contracts, fixed-term contracts and temporary ones (e.g. staff leasing) are automatically extended for a period equivalent to the period for which the relevant employees were suspended from their activity due to the epidemiological emergency measures.
In addition to the above Law no. 77/2020, provides that, until 17 August 2020, the Trade Union information and consultation procedure required in the event of a transfer of business, may last not less than 45 days, should no agreement be reached with unions.
At this stage it is not clear whether the minimum duration is to be understood as being referred to the entire procedure, i.e. the 45 days period starts as soon as the notice is sent to unions or it is referred only to the consultation phase (i.e. when the first meeting is called by unions).
In any case, should an agreement be reached with unions, the procedure may be concluded before the above-mentioned period.
The law confirmed that the NASpI unemployment benefit - which would have ended between 1 March and 30 April 2020 - will be extended for a further 2 months, on condition that the relevant employee is not already accessing any other COVID-19 benefits provided for by any emergency Decree.
The amount of each month’s salary will be equal to the last month’s salary due for the original benefit. There shall be no need to submit an application to benefit from the two-month extension as the extension will be made automatically.
Furthermore, in order to mitigate the consequences of the lack of seasonal labour in the agricultural sector, NASPI beneficiaries will be entitled to combine the benefit with the agricultural work incentive already included in the Relaunch Decree.
As expected, Law no. 77/2020 didn’t affected the dismissal freezing introduced by the Cura Italia Decree and extended until August 17th by the Relaunch Decree.
While at the moment it seems that, after mid-August, it will be possible for companies to serve dismissals for ETO reasons and to start collective redundancy procedures (and resume those that may have been suspended pursuant to the emergency decrees no. 18 and 34/2020), we must note that the Government has already anticipated its intention to extend the freeze for another couple of months with the upcoming emergency decree, which is expected in August.