Thursday, March 30, 2023

Italy Slowly Brings Lay-offs Ban to an End

Italy Slowly Brings Lay-offs Ban to an End

Italy’s government on Wednesday approved a deal struck with trade unions and employers to end a ban on lay-offs while maintaining protections for workers hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The freeze on firings introduced as COVID-19 swept through Italy in February 2020 will be selectively lifted from Thursday, a government spokesman said following a cabinet meeting.

But after tough negotiations, unions have obtained a commitment from employers to use measures such as reducing workers’ hours before laying them off.

A state-funded scheme of part-time working for struggling firms was also extended for 13 weeks, and in return, companies that benefit undertake not to fire workers during this period.

As announced earlier this week, the freeze on lay-offs will remain until October in sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, such as textile, fashion and footwear.

For large companies notably in construction and manufacturing, the freeze will end as planned on Wednesday.

The eurozone’s third-largest economy was plunged into a deep recession last year by the pandemic, which has claimed more than 127,000 lives.

The Bank of Italy estimates that Italy’s ban on lay-offs, unique among European nations, helped save 440,000 jobs last year.