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Italy: Urgent Economic Measures Adopted in Response to COVID-19 Damage

(Sept. 18, 2020) A law approving urgent measures for the support and revitalization of the national economy in response to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic entered into force in Italy on August 15, 2020. Decree-Law No. 104 of August 14, 2020 provides additional aid to employers, bonuses for workers in certain sectors, special appropriations for the educational and food sectors, grants for historic districts, tax exemptions for the tourism and entertainment sectors, and a compensation fund for the maritime transportation sector, among other measures.

Under the law, employers whose businesses have suffered a negative impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic may apply for grants to address the additional costs of layoffs and unplanned indemnifications (employer-paid compensation for cases not included in the employment contract). The law also allows the renewal or extension of fixed-period subordinated employment contracts for a term not to exceed 24 months, even if previously established legal requirements have not been met. Additionally, private employers located in areas whose gross income is lower than the average for EU countries and have higher national unemployment rates are given a 30% reduction of their overall social security contributions. (D.L. No. 104 arts. 1(1), 8(1)(a), 27(1).)

The law establishes indemnification for seasonal workers in the tourism, spa, and entertainment sectors whose contracts were unilaterally terminated by their former employers; dependent and autonomous workers who have ceased working or reduced or suspended their activities; and maritime workers whose employment contracts were unilaterally terminated as a result of the pandemic. The law also allocates €90 million (about US$106,491 million) during 2020 for the Italian Societa’ Sport e Salute S.p.A. (Sport and Health Association) to benefit its workers who serve with the National Olympic Committee, the Italian Paralympic Committee, and other listed sports entities. (D.L. No. 104 arts. 9(1)(a), 9(2)(a), 10(1)(a), 12(1).)

The law creates a substitute form of compensation for workers who have been unable to physically go to work during the period identified by the new law as a result of the stay-at-home measures imposed in response to the pandemic. (D.L. No. art. 19(1).)  Extraordinary bonuses are established for different types of workers throughout the country who have been adversely affected by the pandemic, including babysitters and domestic workers; the law also creates the Fund for the Personal Training of Housewives, which will allow housewives to receive training to acquire new work skills. (D.L. No. 104 arts. 21 (1), 22(1).)

In addition, the new legislation

  • appropriates increased funds to address financial adversities in different areas of national life, including in the education sector for its multiple needs during the 2020-2021 academic year;
  • sets up a €600 million (about US$709 million) fund for the year 2020 to support the continuity of catering establishments and avoid food waste;
  • creates a grant program for businesses selling goods or services in zones that have received foreign tourists in a number comparatively higher than other cities located in the same metropolitan area;
  • exempts certain taxpayers from the second installment of the applicable municipal tax (for example, facilities used for seaside, lake, river, and thermal bathing; tourist villages, youth hostels, mountain refuges, marine and mountain colonies, apartments for holidays, and bed & breakfasts; properties used for trade fairs or exhibitions; and facilities used for cinema shows, theaters, and halls for concerts); and
  • creates a €50 million (about US$59 million) fund for 2020 to compensate the maritime transportation sector for the reduction in revenues it experienced from February 23, 2020, to December 31, 2020, as a result of a pandemic-related reduction in passengers. (D.L. No. 104 arts. 32(1), 33(1), 58(1), 59(1), 78(1)(a)-(d) & 89(1).)