Unclear rules, disputes on the way

by Valeria De Lucia

If in the next few months there is no concrete revival of the economy and a full recovery of business activity – says the labour lawyer Valeria De Lucia of Trifiro & Partners law firm – we risk that the rules introduced by the August decree will only move the possible wave of layoffs caused by Covid, plastering companies. According to De Lucia, the line adopted as highlighted by the OECD is a unique case in Europe, which risks preventing restructuring and new investments by hindering new employment.

Other countries also introduced limits on layoffs, but in most cases they were limited to companies benefiting from layoffs or similar social security benefits. In Italy on the other hand, until August 17, the ban affected all companies. The prospect now seems to be that of not allowing dismissals, as long as there are potentially available buffers, even for companies that do not intend to use them in the future. According to De Lucia, an interesting case is France, which preferred to increase the costs of layoffs, especially for collective ones, rather than impose a general ban. Also from some OECD data, that would have been enough to contain the numbers of layoffs, since there has not been a surge in the unemployment rate in recent months.

De Lucia is in favour of the extension of fixed-term contracts. We would have risked seeing temporary workers penalised, in a context in which the rights introduced by the Dignity decree severely limit the possibility of renewing or extending the first fixed-term contract. But if the last provision is clearly written and does not leave wide margins for interpretation, the one that limits layoffs risks generating application uncertainties and numerous disputes. This is because it provides for a mobile term linked to multiple factors and does not consider companies that have not used the Covid cash register so far nor intend to do so.

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