Italy: Employment Law Newsletter | November 2023

New laws and regulations

New European rules on the presence of asbestos at the workplace 

The European Parliament approved new rules to protect workers against asbestos-related health risks. A new directive was adopted to significantly lower the limits of exposure of workers to asbestos and introduce the use of more modern and accurate technology to detect the presence of fine fibres. The mandatory occupational exposure limit (OEL) will be ten times lower than the current one. In addition, workers will be required to wear personal protective equipment, respirators and clean clothing safely. A decontamination procedure and high quality training will also be introduced.

Temporary workers’ trade union rights

In light of the equal treatment rule between temporary workers and employees, the Italian Ministry of Labour clarified that temps are entitled to the same trade unions rights provided under the National Collective Bargaining Agreements applied by the user company, in addition to those applied by the work agency.  

Case law developments

A manager who humiliates co-workers can be dismissed for just cause    

The Italian Supreme Court ruled that an employee who is hierarchically superior to other employees and who acts disrespectfully towards his co-workers’ dignity and professionalism, can be lawfully dismissed for just cause, even when the behaviour does not constitute harassment. In the case at hand, the Supreme Court found lawful the dismissal of an office manager who had patted a colleague on the back and had made nasty comments to another employee.

Caregivers are entitled to be relocated closer to their disabled relatives  

The Italian Supreme Court deemed that, in case of transfer, an employee who takes care of a disabled relative is entitled to be relocated to a workplace closer to the assisted family member if there is a vacancy and the employee's request is compatible with the company's business needs.

Minimum wages can be set by a labour court

There has been a lot of debate recently in Italy on the possibility of introducing statutorily set minimum wages. The Italian Supreme Court also ruled on the same topic, confirming the need to comply with Constitutional principles that govern salary, more specifically on the need to ensure that an employee’s salary ensures a free and dignified existence for themselves and their families. In particular, in a recent ruling, the Supreme Judges stated that a labour court must check if an employee’s salary is proportionate to the work performed; to do this, the judge must first refer to the provisions in the National Collective Labour Agreement but may depart from them if the pay cannot be considered sufficient. In this case, the judge may use other collective agreements or even economic or statistical indicators as parameters to determine proper minimum salary.

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