The Role Of Women In The World Of Work

Despite some progress in guaranteeing the presence of women at various levels, including top positions of economic and financial institutions, the overall situation is still highly unsatisfactory.

On 28 February 2022, in the context of the International Women’s day 2022, European Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) are holding a joint event on ‘Women in Economics and Finance: Debate on the next challenges in the EU’.

The purpose of this high-level event is therefore to provide an opportunity to address gender equality in the fields of economic, monetary and financial affairs with key EU and international decision-makers.

The event will be webstreamed.

It will be another important step towards a necessary goal

Frontline Workers During The Covid Pandemic: It’s Time To Reevaluate Them

During the COVID-19 pandemic, EU Member States ensured that sectors and occupations classified as essential continued to provide the goods and services necessary for maintaining basic economic, social and health facilities.

Frontline workers in these sectors and occupations were exempted from confinement measures and movement restrictions and often had to work in face-to-face situations.

It’s time to reevaluate them.

The study explores the working conditions and risks faced by essential frontline workers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on women and migrant workers in low-paid frontline occupations.

The study also provides an overview of the main legislative and policy measures adopted at EU and national level to support essential workers in order to identify possible policy actions to reevaluate these occupations.

The analysis is based on the triangulation of data and information resulting from a review of academic literature and policy documents and from field work, including semi-structured interviews and a web survey targeted at EU and national stakeholders, and five country case studies (Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Romania).

International Procurement: New Tool From EU

The EU has opened its public procurement markets to a significant degree to competitors from third countries and has been advocating for the end of protectionist measures.

With the aim to help EU companies with more opportunities to tender outside the EU, European Parliament has adopted yesterday, december 14 2021, its position on the international procurement instrument.

Parliament backed the overall aim of the proposed International Procurement Instrument (IPI) but tweaked its design, scope and member states’ discretionary powers in the way it is applied.

The IPI encourages public procurement markets in countries that protect this sector to be more open. It does so by introducing measures that limit non-EU companies’ access to open EU public procurement tenders if they come from countries that do not offer similar access to EU enterprises.

The instrument would empower the Commission to determine whether and to what extent companies from a third country must be subject to an IPI measure.

Commission can choose beetween to two types of IPI measures to resolve unequal access to public procurement markets:

  • adjusting the score given to bids made by companies subject to IPI (without affecting the price to be paid to the successful bidder);
  • excluding the company from bidding.

In addition, national contracting authorities can only opt out from IPI measures in two cases:

  • when all bids have been made by companies from countries subject to an IPI measure;
  • and in cases where the public interest overrides IPI considerations, such as in areas of public health or environmental protection.

However, MEPs insist that companies from least developed countries and vulnerable developing countries should be exempt.

MEPs establish different thresholds to determine which procurement procedures are subject to an IPI measure:

  • those worth at least €10 million for works and concessions (such as highway construction);
  • those worth at least €5 million for goods and services.

The adopted text serves as the negotiating mandate for the parliamentary delegation that is set to start talks on the final form of the instrument with the Council on the next 16 December.

Employees’ Privacy: Italian Guarantor Prohibits Indiscriminate Monitoring Of Internet Browsing

The Italian Guarantor has ordered an employer to pay a fine of 84,000 euros for the unlawful processing of personnel data relating to internet browsing.

In fact, monitoring of employee internet browsing is not possible if conducted indiscriminately.

The limit persists even in the presence of specific trade union agreements.

Any control activities must always comply with the Workers’ Statute and the privacy legislation.

This is what was reiterated by the Privacy Guarantor in a sanctioning measure of last 13 May.

An employee, during a disciplinary procedure, had discovered that his Facebook and Youtube consultation during working hours had emerged from a constant control.

The employer used a system of control and filtering of employees’ internet browsing, with the retention of data for one month and the creation of specific reports, for network security purposes.

The employer had also entered into an agreement with the trade unions, as required by the sector regulations, but the system, without having adequately informed the employees, instead allowed unnecessary processing operations that were disproportionate to the purpose of protection and security of the internal network.

In fact, a preventive and generalized collection of data relating to connections to the websites visited by individual employees was carried out.

The system also collected information unrelated to the professional activity and in any case attributable to the private life of the person concerned.

In addition to the injunction, the employer must also take technical and organizational measures to anonymize the data relating to the employee’s workstation, delete personal data in the registered web browsing logs, as well as update the internal procedures identified and included in the trade union agreement.

Italian Freezing Of Redundancies: Still Uncertainties

Uncertainties remain on the future of the Italian freezing of redundancies.

The government is currently evaluating various hypotheses.

The “Decreto Sostegni”, currently, extends the prohibition on dismissal (paragraphs 9 and 10, art.8, DL 41/2021):

  • till June 30th 2021 for workers of companies with ordinary and extraordinary CIG (especially industry and agriculture)
  • till October 31st 2021 for workers of companies covered by instruments in derogation (especially tertiary sector)

The following are still excluded from the prohibition:

  • corporate collective agreement
  • expansion contract
  • reinstatement for change of contract
  • bankruptcy
  • definitive termination of the company’s business (which does not involve the transfer of a company or one of its branches)
  • just-cause dismissal
  • dismissal for disciplinary reasons
  • dismissal for exceeding the grant period of illness
  • dismissal for failure to pass the probationary period
  • dismissal for reaching age for the use of the old-age pension
  • dismissal for unfitness for duties
  • dismissal of the domestic worker
  • dismissal of the manager (even if a recent jurisprudential orientation is contrary)
  • the termination of the apprenticeship at its expiration date
  • consensual employment terminations and resignations for just cause

Italian Subcontracting: The News Of The ‘Simplification Decree’

Another change in terms of italian subcontracting.

The ‘Simplification Decree’ (Art. 49 DL 77/2021) modifies, temporarily (for now), the legal discipline of the subcontracting regime.

Starting from the current month of June here is the news.

Until October 31, 2021, the subcontract cannot exceed 50% of the total amount (currently it is 30%).

The full transfer / execution of the contract to third parties is still prohibited, as well as the prevalent execution of labor-intensive processes.

The subcontractor must guarantee the same quality standards and grant workers an economic and regulatory treatment not inferior to the previous one.

From 1 November 2021, all quantitative limits on subcontracting are removed.

The contracting authorities will indicate in the tender documents:

  • the services that must be compulsorily performed by the contractor
  • the necessary works to strengthen control, protection and safety of workers
  • how to prevent the risk of criminal infiltration (unless subcontractors are registered in the white list or in the anti-mafia registry)

The main contractor and the subcontractor are in any case jointly and severally liable towards the contracting authority.

Italian Expansion Contract Strengthened

With the recent italian ‘Sostegni Bis’ Decree (art.39, DL 73/2021) the expansion contract is further strengthened (art. 41 DLGS 148/2015).

Exclusively for 2021the minimum limit of workforce required to be able to use the expansion contract is reduced to 100.

The number of units also drops to 100 for cases in which a program is provided for workers closest to retirement age (within 5 years).

The employer, by granting the worker a monthly allowance for the entire period until the first effective date of the pension is reached, can terminate the employment relationship.

The consent and non-opposition of the worker is of course required.

Not decisive but certainly an extremely useful tool for the management of resources with a view to restructuring and renewal, even in the validity of the redundancy block.

Allavelli Legal

ECJ rules EU and Canada trade agreement follows EU laws

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Tuesday that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU follows EU laws. The court decision was requested by Belgium and was focused on the section of CETA that concerns resolution of investment disputes between investors and states.

CETA will establish a Investment Court System (ICS) to handle disputes between investors and states. The system will include a Tribunal, an Appellate Tribunal, and a multilateral investment tribunal. The Tribunal will include 15 members: five from Canada, five from EU member states and five from third countries.

Belgium filed the request for a decision from the ECJ because the ECJ has exclusive jurisdiction over the definitive interpretation of EU law. The ECJ found that CETA did not violate this principle as long as the CETA Tribunals do not attempt to interpret EU laws.

Belgium was also concerned that the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism would violate the EU’s principle of equal treatment in regards to treatment of a suit raised by a Canadian investor against an EU enterprise. The ECJ found that the equal treatment provision is not violated for a non-EU investor making a suit against an EU member state. The ECJ also found that EU law permits annulment of a fine by an EU member state if the CETA Tribunal finds a defect.

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights also gives the right of access to an independent tribunal, which Belgium believed may be violated by the establishment of the CETA Tribunal. The concern was based on the fees and costs associated with the Tribunal which may make it difficult for small enterprises to bring a claim. The Commission has committed to providing co-financing for small and medium-sized entities before the Tribunal. The ECJ found these commitments to be sufficient to meet EU law.