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Italy: Reform of Public Administration

(June 30, 2017) On June 22, 2017, new legislation approving amendments to Italy’s public administration legislation entered into effect.  (Legislative Decree No. 75 of May 25, 2017, Amendment of and Integration with Legislative Decree No. 165 of March 30, 2001, and in Accordance with Articles 16, Paragraphs 1(a), 2(b), (c), (d), and (e), and 17, Paragraph 1(a), (c), e), (f), (g), (h), (l), (m), (n), (o), (q), (r), (s), and (z), of Law No. 124 of August 7, 2015, on the Reorganization of Public Administration (L.D. No. 75), GAZZETTA UFFICIALE (G.U.) (June 7, 2017), NORMATTIVA (in Italian).)

Staffing Requirements

The new legislation seeks to optimize the use of existing public resources and to achieve the performance of public duties in an organized, efficient, and economic manner. To that effect, the legislation orders public agencies to adopt tri-annual plans for staffing requirements. (Id. art. 4(b)(2).) If it is determined that there are personnel employed beyond the needs of the plan, the public agencies must redistribute their human resources in a coordinated manner across their respective administrative departments, within the existing budgets. (Id.)

The Law requires that administrative agencies undergoing staff reallocations achieve financial neutrality (that is, no additional expenses are incurred with the adoption of the new measures) as a result of the reallocations. (Id. art. 4(b)(3).) Unions representing affected employees must be heard during this process, pursuant to the existing national collective bargaining agreements. (Id. art. 4(b)(4).) Observance of the aforementioned measures is a pre-requisite for administrative agencies before hiring new personnel. (Id. art. 4(d).) State-run academic and educational institutions as well as other state institutions of higher learning are exempt from the requirement to balance their budgets before they can hire academic, teaching, administrative, technical, and auxiliary staff members. (Id. art. 4(e).)

New Provisions on Public Recruiting 

The new Law sets stringent new caps on and requirements for the hiring of staff. (Id. art. 6(1).) The Law amends existing legislation by requiring that applicants for government positions demonstrate knowledge of the English language or another foreign language as required by the respective, specific professional position. (Id. art. 7(1); Legislative Decree No. 165 of March 30, 2001, General Provisions on the Organization of Work in the Departments of Public Administration, art. 37 ¶ 1, G.U. (May 9, 2001), NORMATTIVA (in Italian).)

Flexible Work 

Under the new legislation, when there are established requirements of a purely temporary or exceptional nature imposed in accordance with the specific powers granted by applicable legislation, public agencies may execute contracts for various forms of flexible work as established in the Civil Code and other legislation regulating work relationships in the private sector. (L.D. No. 75, art. 9(1)(b).) The Law provides measures to prevent abuses of the flexible work scheme. (Id. art. 9(1)(d); Dante Figueroa, Italy: Amendment to Law on Employment Contracts, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Apr. 21, 2017).)

Employees with Disabilities and Ill Employees

The Law creates the National Consultative Agency (NCA) for the Integration into the Work Environment of People with Disabilities, which is to be attached to the Department of Public Functions of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. (Id. art. 10(1).) The NCA’s main objective is to propose initiatives to administrative agencies on improving the workplace and the valuation of workers with disabilities at those agencies. (Id. art. 10(3)(c).) In order to guarantee a more efficacious integration of employees with disabilities into public agencies with 200 or more workers, the Law mandates the appointment of a person responsible for integration processes within each such agency. (Id. art. 10(3)(e).)

Only medical personnel appointed by the National Social Security Institute (L’Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale) may perform medical-legal examinations of public employees who are absent from work due to illness. (Id. art. 18(1)(c).) 

Collective Bargaining at Public Agencies 

The Law defines the purpose of government unions and of unionizing activities within the government, but delimits areas in which unions can operate, including aspects of employment such as employee discipline, performance evaluation, and employee transfers. (Id. art. 11(1)(a).) Additionally, the Law provides that collective bargaining agreements signed by a public administrative agency must identify employee conduct that is subject to disciplinary penalties, such as repeated and unjustified absences from work following legal holidays and weekends, and unjustified absence in specific periods in which it is necessary to ensure continuity in the provision of services to the public. (Id. art. 16(1)(b).)

Responsibility of Public Employees for Wrongful Conduct 

Where the public administration is required by a court decision to pay damages as a result of a breach of public obligations by a government employee, the employee concerned is subject to administrative penalties ranging from suspension from his post, payment of a fine proportional to the amount of the damage, or more serious disciplinary sanctions, according to the applicable legislation. (Id. art. 17(1)(a).)