Employees in Italy should continue to prepare for changing employment conditions based on the continued outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. New information is available daily, and employers should actively be notifying their employees of updates regarding what is expected of their performance in their specific roles for the foreseeable future. It is also up to the employer to ensure that employees in Italy have access to consistently updated information and know and understand where to access this information.
The Italian government has issued a nationwide state of lockdown. At this point in time, employers do not have to provide employees with any new employment contracts to facilitate remote working opportunities if employees are able to work from home. Additionally, if the employer did not have employees set up on a remote working network, they would be responsible for setting up this network if they require employees to work when they are at home and away from the usual workplace.
If employees are still required to come to work (certain exempt industries included in this subcategory – i.e. essential services), and it is deemed safe to do so, then they should also be provided with additional personal protective equipment (such as antibacterial soap, hand sanitizers and/or masks) for use in increasing work safety. Additionally, those employees, even if still required to come in to work, should not be required to engage in unnecessary face-to-face meetings if they can be done either virtually or on the phone. Employees may also have their core body temperatures tested when they arrive at work. This may be done through a simple procedure such as a company doctor, or other medical professional, taking the temperature of each employee as they prepare to enter the building. Additionally, employees should also be provided with information regarding the most common symptoms and how they should take precautions to avoid the further spread of this virus.
Italy has also planned a disaster fund (called the CIG) that was created as a national fund shock absorber that may be used to reimburse the salary of employees if they are unable to work based on certain conditions of crisis. To slow down the catastrophic potential impact of this disease on the Italian economy, organizations may apply for increased funding from these shock absorbers to subsidize the gap between organizational revenues and their ability to pay employee salaries.
Overall, the main take away from this event is that it is up to Italian employers to ensure that their employees are kept as knowledgeable as possible throughout the progression of this disease and employers should recognize that they must be flexible throughout this process in what is expected of their employees and how they will complete their work assignments.