Extract from the article by Avv. Salvatore Trifirò published in AIDP’s online magazine
By Salvatore Trifirò
In the last ten years, there had been numerous reforms described as revolutionary. The D.lgs n. 276/2003 (also known as “legge Biagi”) might have been the first reform which consciously introduced the equation between flexibility and employment incentives. It did so, by either regulating ex novo or renewing preexisting law institutions. The reason behind this reform lies on the assumption that with less strict rules for employers and with less protection for the worker, the employment rate would increase. The underlying assumption is that unemployment is largely linked to the over-protection of workers, both during the work relationship management and at its termination. Another alleged reason is that permanent subordinate employment is unable to fulfill the need for elasticity requested in modern business organizations.
Biagi’s Reform had been followed by others which have always maintained this guiding principle – to intervene on special and atypical models of employment relationships and, at the same time, to introduce hiring incentives.
In 2010, it was the turn of “Collegato Lavoro” (Linked Work) (L. November 4, 2010, No. 183) which introduced – ex art. 32 – the dual burden of appealing and of lodging the application within a time limit for both layoffs and transfers. Then, the idea bloomed with Fornero’s Law (L. June 28, 2012, No. 92) and, subsequently, with Jobs Act (L. December 10, 2014, No. 183).
Thus, the legislator overcame the taboo present in art. 18, by eliminating the right to reintegration into the workplace, except for cases of unlawful layoffs or of absence of the disputed fact. By now, reintegration can be said to be virtual, given that reintegrated workers opt for the monetary solution in the 99% of the cases.
Even though these reforms have partially brought a positive result, they are developed on a fideistic view of the labor market. View according to which to reverse the negative trend of employment, it is sufficient to reduce employers’ risks related to layoffs.
However, companies hire when the demand for their products and services increases. If there is not demand, easing layoffs and the possibility of using precarious contractual forms cannot reverse a trend that depends on different factors, but contributes to create precariousness and demotivation. To increase employment, demand in the internal market must increase.
To achieve this goal, flexibility (sometimes used as synonym of precariousness) is not the right tool. Domestic demand is fostered by reducing labor costs. And labor costs must not be reduced by dropping workers’ wages, but by cutting the tax wedge. All this, through granting benefits to both companies and workers.
This strategy increases the circulation of money and thus launches a virtuous circle which can give new start to the economy and to consumption. With this in mind, even self-employed work – now demonized – could turn out to be a useful tool towards development and flexibility. Tool much more valuable than many atypical work contracts in use nowadays. In fact, self-employed work both allows workers to better coordinate their professional duties and their life needs and, usually, it provides higher earnings than the common employee-based work relationship.
At the end, we still witness the presence of an unsustainable tax wedge and a vast and inefficient public spending. Without structural spending review in this sphere, any intervention on labor law cannot effectively support economical resumption.