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COVID-19 :

General practical guidelines for employers

25 03 2020

It is important that the companies operating in Italy are aware of the obligations and consequences for security of employees and business in Italy due to the restrictions applied to contrast the Coronavirus epidemic.  BDO Italy provides you with practical guidelines related to the main restrictions and safety measures approved by the recent decrees approved by the Government, its President and the relevant Ministers.
 

1. Main regulations issued  on COVID-19 emergency response

 

2. Individuals movement restrictions

Italy announced several restrictions to the movement of the individuals over the entire Country in order to attempt to halt of the Coronavirus.

In the specific, with the #ImStayingHome” Decree (Io resto a casa) (DPCM of March 9th 2020), the Italian Government has declared the entire national territory as protected area.

People must remain at home. Transfer is allowed solely for very urgent and proved work requirements, health needs or reasons of necessity (e.g. shopping for food and other essentials).

In any case, work requirements and health needs must be proven by way of a self-declaration, using the printed forms provided by law enforcement officers. The consistency of the information provided in the self-declarations could be checked at a later stage and any persons found to have made untruthful statements shall be subject to criminal prosecution.

People under quarantine or who have tested positive to Covid-19 are “strictly forbidden” from going out.

In any case, it is forbidden to everybody to move, by public and private transport, to a different municipality, unless the transfer is justified with health needs or very urgent working reason (DPCM 22th March 2020).

By order of the Ministry of Health of March 28, 2020, it was also established that people entering Italy must issue a self-declaration to the transport carrier containing the following elements: a) reason for the trip; b) full address of the house where they will carry out the quarantine period; c) telephone number. Those who enter Italy with their own means must deliver the self-declaration to the Prevention Department of the competent ASL.

 

3. Travel restrictions and cross-borders workers

People are allowed to travel abroad, or to return to Italy from abroad, but only for very urgent work requirements and health needs (DPCM 22th March 2020).

Under the condition mentioned above, cross-border workers are allowed to leave and re-enter the country, by private means or public transport, to and from their workplace and home.

Interested persons may prove their urgent work requirements in any way, including self-certification or other documents proving that they work in a bordering country. 

Public transportation including airlines, trains, and buses continue to operate, but with reduced frequency.

It must be noted that mobile checkpoints at airports and train stations are established in order to collect the self-declaration forms from individuals specifying the purpose of their movement and destination.

Furthermore, all individuals entering Italy by any means of transportation are obliged to self-quarantine in their home/hotel for fourteen days, even if they have no symptoms of Covid-19.

Individuals are also required to inform the competent Local Health Authority (so called ASL) of their entry immediately, including the fact that they are returning to their domicile, residence.

 

4.  Lock-down of the activities

​With the latest DPCM approved on 22nd March, as emended by the Decree of the Ministery of Sviluppo Economico of 25 March 2020, all the productive and commercial activities, not deemed as essential (such as pharmaceutics, supermarkets, healthcare industry, banks, etc), are suspended and can be carried out only via smart-working.

Furthermore, a list of permitted activities – other than the essential - is contained into the attachment to the above DPCM, as emended by the above Decree, in form of the ATECO codes.

However, such list should not be considered as exhaustive because any other “functional activities”, related to those permitted, are permitted as well under filing of a communication to the Provincial Government Authority (“Prefetto”).   

All non-permitted activities should suspend their working activity by March 25th or proceeding via smart-work only.

On 1st April 2020 a new Prime Ministry Decree has been issued. For the persistence of the epidemic, the Government decided for an extension until April 13th of all safety measures in force. Therefore, all previous decrees and ordinances till such date are confirmed.

 

5. Meetings

All physical meetings are prohibited, unless they are carried out by teleconferencing.

Regarding the corporate body meetings (i.e. shareholders, board of directors, statutory auditors), physical meetings are prohibited too, unless, of course, they are carried out by teleconferencing and provided that they ensure compliance with the relevant rules governing the convocations, voting and decisions (art. 106 DL. 18/2020 and Massima n. 187 Consiglio Notariato di Milano).

Notwithstanding the provisions of art. 2364, c. 2, and of art. 2478-bis of the civil code said provision entitles all companies to convene the general assembly to approve the financial statements within 180 days of the end of the financial year.

It is also provided that joint-stock companies, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, cooperatives and mutual insurance companies, through the notice of call of ordinary or extraordinary shareholders' meetings, may provide, even by way of derogating the by-law, the vote can be expressed electronically or by correspondence and the attendance at the meeting by means of telecommunication.

The aforementioned companies may also order that the meeting be held, even exclusively, by means of telecommunication means to the extent such means guarantee the identification of the participants, their participation and the exercise of the right to vote, pursuant to and for the purposes of the articles 2370, c. 4, 2479-bis, c. 4, and 2538, c. 6, code civ. The provision further specifies that, where required, the chairman, secretary or notary is not required to be in the same place.

Limited liability companies may also allow, even by derogating the art. 2479, c. 4, civil code and the by-law, that the vote is expressed by written consultation or by express written consent.

 

6. Safety measures

Employers must adopt an anti-infection security protocol; on 14th March, a shared Protocol was issued between the social partners (CGIL, CISL, UIL, Confindustria) and the competent Ministries to regulate measures to fight and contain the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace.

At this stage, based on the measures, protocols and recommendations, it will be necessary to:

  • sanitise the workplace and follow the guidelines set up for health protection;
  • follow the anti-contagion safety protocols;
  • limit movements within and outside the company;
  • regarding transfers, it will be necessary to prohibit and cancel travel for company staff unless related to very urgent and proved work reasons; 
  • mitigate access to common areas;
  • evaluate the indispensable activities and suspend those deemed non-essential.

Further specific indications provided by the protocol concern:

  • Information. The Company informs, in different ways (email, leaflets, etc.) all workers and anyone entering the company about the provisions of the Authorities and the employer for the containment of contagion.
  • The methods of entry into the workplace may vary according to possible controls at the time of entry of personnel and preclusions to those who have been in contact with people found positive to COVID-19 or those coming from areas considered at risk by the WHO.
  • External suppliers must reduce contact with employees and respect interpersonal safety distances during the discharge. If possible, the supplier's driver must remain on the vehicle.
  • Daily cleaning and periodic sanitization of the company is required. In case of a COVID-19 case, a specific sanitation is required.
  • All persons on-site must take personal hygiene precautions, starting with proper hand washing.
  • The possible adoption of individual safety devices is linked to their availability on the market. If the activities carried out impose on workers a distance of less than one meter, and it is not possible to adopt different solutions (such as the distance between work stations), it is necessary to use personal protective equipment (masks and other PPE).
  • Access to common areas (canteens, changing rooms, etc.) must be restricted and the distance between people must be at least one metre.
  • The organisation must be restructured and include: the closure of non-productive departments, the remodelling of production levels, the rostering of employees dedicated to production to reduce contacts to the minimum and the use of smart working for all those activities that can be carried out at remotely. Employees can benefit paid time off and overtime hours in case of non-working. Travel and business trips are suspended.
  • The company should provide for staggered entry and exit of employees to avoid overcrowding.
  • Meetings in attendance are prohibited, if necessary the interpersonal safety distance between participants and adequate cleanliness and aeration of the rooms must be guaranteed. All events, including training events, within the company are also cancelled except those that can be held remotely.
  • In case of presence of a symptomatic person, this person must isolate him/her and inform the competent health authorities and the regional or Ministry of Health numbers activated for the COVID-19 emergency. The workplace must also cooperate with the health authorities to define contact details of the infected person.
  • Health surveillance activities must continue taking into account the COVID-19 regulatory measures. In particular, the doctor is responsible for notifying the workplace of any workers with current or past illnesses.

 

7. Smart working and paid leaves

Temporary procedures have been put into place to allow smart working and there are no limitations in this respect, also considering that the rules in force before this health emergency did not provide for any special restrictions concerning the number of employees allowed to use smart working.

Once identified the organisational methods that allow the recognition of smart-working to as many employees as possible, provided that this method is compatible with the characteristics of the service, work-at-home can be activated in a simplified manner, which does not necessarily have to pass from the signing of the individual agreements normally envisaged in this context, and for the duration of the state of emergency referred to in the resolution of the Council of Ministers dated 31st January 2020 ( six months from the date of the provision).

If it not possible to use the smart-working, employers may program the use of any previous year's holiday leave within the relevant deadline or as established in accordance with the collective bargaining rules.

 

8. Infringement and penalties

Law enforcement officers will be required to supervise compliance of the rules as part of their routine law enforcement activities.

Any infringements of the measures may be reported to the local police or other law enforcement agencies.

The Law Decree dated March 25th 2020, n. 19 provides that, unless the fact constitutes a crime, failure to comply with the containment measures will be punished with the administrative penalty from 400 to 3,000 euros and the penalties provided for in article 650 of the penal code will not apply or any other provision of law attributing powers for health reasons.

In cases of non-compliance with the measures provided for public exercises or production or commercial activities, the ancillary administrative penalty of the closure of the exercise or activity from 5 to 30 days also applies. In case of repeated violation of the same provision, the administrative penalty is doubled and the accessory one is applied to the maximum extent.

Intentional violation of the absolute prohibition for persons subjected to quarantine to leave their home because they have tested positive for the virus is punished with the criminal penalty referred to in article 452, first paragraph, no. 2, of the Penal code (imprisonment from one to five years).