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On Oct. 23, the Senate finally approved the bill on "Amendments to the code set forth in Legislative Decree No. 198 of April 11, 2006, and other provisions on equal opportunities for men and women in the workplace". The new law, which amends the Equal Opportunity Code, expands the cases of gender discrimination in the workplace and introduces a monitoring system to monitor the implementation of equality and equal opportunity legislation in the workplace. The aforementioned system also introduces the submission of a report containing monitoring results to the Italian Parliament every two years.

In addition, the new legal provision establishes a bonus system. Provision is made for the recognition of an exemption from the payment of social security contributions by the employer who promotes equality.

The notion of discrimination in the workplace

The most notable change is the broadening of the notion of indirect discrimination that applies, not only in the workplace, but also, to applicants and candidates, at the recruitment stage. The following has been included in the concept of discrimination in the workplace Any behavior of an organizational nature or incidental to working hours and time that put or may put workers of a particular sex at a particular disadvantage compared to workers of the other sex.

Specifically, paragraph 2-bis of Article 25 of the Equal Opportunity Code was replaced by the following: "It constitutes discrimination within the meaning of this article, Any treatment or change in the organization of working conditions and time which, by reason of sex, registry age, personal or family care needs, state of pregnancy as well as maternity or paternity, including adoptive, or by reason of the ownership and exercise of related rights, places or may place the worker in at least one of the following conditions:

  1. disadvantaged position compared to the generality of other workers;
  2. Limitation of opportunities for participation in corporate life or choices;
  3. Limitation of access to the mechanisms of advancement and career progression.".

The staff situation report

Relative to those involved, the new legislation extended the obligation to prepare a report at least every two years on the status of male and female personnel In the head of public and private companies employing more than fifty employees. Companies employing up to fifty employees will also be able to prepare this report on a voluntary basis.

The report must be prepared exclusively in telematic mode, through the completion of a form published on the institutional website of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and sent to company trade union representatives. The Ministry of Labor will publish, in a special section of its institutional website, the list of companies that have transmitted the report and the list of those that have not.

The report will have to contain a number of data that will be crucial in determining compliance with gender equality and in particular equal pay. It will, in fact, have to indicate the number of female and male workers employed, the number of female workers who may be pregnant, the number of female and male workers who may have been hired during the year, the differences between the starting wages of workers of each sex, the contractual classification and the function performed by each worker employed also with reference to the distribution among workers of full-time and part-time contracts, as well as the amount of the total remuneration paid, the accessory components of wages, allowances, including those linked to results, bonuses and any other benefits in kind or any other disbursements that may have been granted to each worker, whose identity must remain anonymous.

The report does not end with only the indication of employment data, in fact, it will also be necessary to report all useful information in order to monitor the recruitment and hiring procedures adopted by the company as well.

However, for the useful indications for the purposes of drafting the report, one will have to wait for the implementing decree that will be adopted within sixty days from the date of entry into force of the proposed law in question. The implementing decree will also regulate how the report can be accessed by employees and union representatives of the company concerned, while respecting the protection of personal data, in order to take advantage of judicial protection.

If within the prescribed time limit, companies with the obligation, do not send the report, they are requested to do so within sixty days. In order to strengthen the protection against discrimination, the new bill, stipulates that in case the non-compliance continues for more than twelve months, the Suspension for one year of any contributory benefits enjoyed by the company.

The certification of gender equality

Of particular relevance is the novelty related to gender equality certification linked to the reporting obligation. In detail, as of January 1, 2022, the "certification of gender equality will be established in order to certify the concrete policies and measures taken by employers to reduce the gender gap in relation to growth opportunities in the company, equal pay for equal tasks, gender difference management policies, and maternity protection." A special implementing decree will be adopted to enable the concrete application of the certification.

Possession of the certification will enable the company to access an "equality award." private companies, in fact, which will be in possession of the certification, will be able to enjoy an exemption, within the limit of 50 million euros, from the payment of their total social security contributions. The exemption is determined at an amount not exceeding 1 percent and up to 50,000 euros annually for each company, prorated and applied on a monthly basis.

But not only that, the company that achieves certification will also be awarded a bonus score for evaluation in the participation in calls for tenders, notices or invitations relating to procedures for the acquisition of services, supplies, works and works announced by the administrations that shall indicate in the respective notices the award criteria that they intend to apply to the evaluation of the tender. 

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