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Article | Global News Briefs

Italy: Expansion of legislation on equal treatment in employment

By Beatrice Elena Stroppa and Andrea Scaffidi | November 29, 2021

A Senate-approved bill would require employers with over 50 employees to report on actions taken to support gender pay and opportunity equity.
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Employer Action Code: Act

Under the current Equal Opportunities Code, employers with 100 or more employees are required to submit a report every two years on the gender makeup of their workforce as well as male and female employee duties, training and careers, dismissal, pay and social security treatment. A bill recently approved by the Senate aims to expand the scope of this report to include concrete measures adopted by companies to reduce the gender gap and would extend the requirement to employers with 51 or more employees. The bill would also broaden the definition of discrimination.

Key details

The main provisions of the bill, which would take effect on January 1, 2022, are as follows:

  • The biennial report on gender differences would have to cover the concrete actions taken by employers in relation to equal growth opportunities in the company, equal pay for equal work, gender difference management and motherhood protection. The report must be sent to the Ministry of Labor and Works Councils.
  • The report is compulsory for companies with 51 or more employees. It is optional for smaller companies.
  • Companies that obtain a “gender equality certificate” are entitled to a one-percentage-point reduction in their social security contribution rate, up to 50,000 euros per annum; this exemption will not affect the calculation of pension benefits.
  • Subsequent implementation decrees would, among other things, set parameters to measure gender-based differences in remuneration, career progression opportunities and work/life balance.
  • The concept of discrimination in the workplace will be expanded to include any treatment or modification in the organization of working conditions and working hours that disadvantages employees in terms of employment opportunities (in life in general and at the company specifically), career progression and advancement for reasons of sex, age, personal or family care needs, pregnancy, motherhood or fatherhood (including adoption), or the exercise of corresponding rights.

Employer implications

In 2020, Italy ranked 14th in the European Union (EU) Gender Equality Index, with a score of 63.5 points out of 100, 4.4 points below the EU average; Italy was one of 14 countries warned by the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) about noncompliance with the right to equal pay and equal opportunities. One of the barriers identified by the ECSR was the lack of pay transparency in the labor market.

If the bill becomes law, as expected, a significant number of employers that were previously not required to submit gender equality reports will have to comply with the new provisions, while employers that already draw up these reports will have to expand them in line with the new requirements. Gender equality certificates will also present a (modest) cost-saving opportunity for employers.

Contacts

Beatrice Elena Stroppa
Milan

Andrea Scaffidi
Rome

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