Italy: Employment law newsletter | July 2024

New laws and regulations

New statutory definition of disability

A new law, effective from 30 June 2024, introduced a new legal definition of disability, which is now defined as an enduring physical, mental, intellectual, neurodevelopmental or sensory impairment that — in interaction with barriers of various kinds — may hinder full and effective participation in the various contexts of life on an equal basis with others. Employers will be required to take this new definition of disability into account when making reasonable accommodations for their disabled employees.

Resignations by employees with children below the age of three

Under Italian law, working parents with children up to age three are required to validate their resignations before the competent local labor office, which certifies that the parents are actually willing to terminate their employment relationship during a particularly delicate phase of their children's lives. The Italian National Labor Inspectorate clarified that these resignations can be revoked following the meeting at the local labor office, provided that the revocation takes place before the effective termination date. In this regard, the local labor office will proceed with a further investigation to proceed in annulling the previous validation.

Case law developments

Employees cannot refuse to join health and safety training        

Employees are always required to attend health and safety training courses organized by the employer, even if they are scheduled outside ordinary working hours. Therefore, according to a recent ruling of the Italian Supreme Court, an employee's refusal to attend compulsory health and safety courses may be sanctioned from a disciplinary point of view.

Hiring only women over 40 years old is indirect discrimination

A well-known luxury company was recently sanctioned by a local labor court, as the company's legal representative declared she would only hire women over age 40, statistically no longer in the typical range of age for child-bearing. According to the labor court, this kind of statement represents an indirect discrimination and, as such, it sanctioned the company to pay damages, publish the ruling in a national newspaper and implement an anti-discrimination training plan.

Days spent in hospital do not count for dismissal for prolonged sickness

According to Italian law, an employee cannot be validly dismissed when they are on sickness leave, and this "protected period" (know in Italian as "periodo di comporto") is quantified by the applicable national collective bargaining agreements governing the employment relationships of the concerned employees. These collective agreements also specify the kind of events that can or cannot be taken into account when calculating the protected period. In a recent ruling, the Italian Supreme Court clarified that — if expressly provided by the collective agreements — absences due to hospitalization or recovery in ER do not count when calculating the maximum duration of the protected period. According to the Supreme Judges, this kind of provision aims at excluding all those events where an employee is admitted to a health facility, even if only for a day or for part of a day, to undergo tests, treatment and care that cannot be carried out at home.

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