Changes in workplace safety legislation

Changes in workplace safety legislation

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- The amendments to Legislative Decree no. 81/2008

The Decree-Law no. 146 of 21 October 2021, entitled “Urgent measures in economic and tax matters, for employment protection and non-deferrable needs” amends workplace safety provisions significantly, as it brings numerous changes to Legislative Decree no. 81/2008.

More specifically, Art. 13 letter d) of the decree entirely reformulates Art. 14, Legislative Decree no. 81/2008: the power of the National Labour Inspectorate and of the other supervisory bodies to impose penalties is significantly extended, whenever their inspections show breaches of accident prevention rules and/or anomalies in the employment relationships established between the employer and the employees.

- Suspension Order

The Inspectorate and the other supervisory bodies must issue an order to suspend the activity if they find that at least 10% of the employees are working, at the time of the inspection, without a previous notice of commencement of the employment relationship. The main innovation in this respect is the lower threshold of “undeclared” workers that triggers the sanction: in fact, before the enactment of Law-Decree no. 146 of 2021, this required a 20% proportion of undeclared employees.

Equally important amendments concern the workplace safety aspect. If the supervisory authorities find serious breaches regarding safety matters, based on the offences described in Annex I to Legislative Decree no. 81/2008 (the contents of such Annex having been modified along with the changes brought to Art. 14, Legislative Decree no. 81/2008),they are entitled to immediately adopt an order of suspension of the activity. The main difference from the previous rules lies in the possibility for the supervisory authorities to issue the suspension order even for a first time offence.

Moreover, companies subjected to a suspension order may not enter into contracts with the public administration throughout the suspension period.

In order to have the suspension removed, the employer must, in addition to restoring the regular employment conditions, pay an additional amount proportional to the type and seriousness of the offence. These amounts are defined both in the mentioned Art 14 and in Annex I. If a related breach was committed over 5 years prior to the inspection, such amounts are doubled.

The suspension order is removed if the offences are time-barred under the statute of limitations provided for in Articles 20 and 21, Legislative Decree no. 758/1994, but the additional fines are due nonetheless.

- Criminal penalties

The punishment for an employer who does not comply with the suspension order is detention up to six months if the breach regards accident prevention rules.

If the breach concerns the regularity of the employment relationships, the penalty is detention for three to six months or a fine of EUR 2,500 to 6,400.