Exclusive Q&A on Labour and Employment Law with Angelo Zambelli


Posted: 30th March 2017 08:46

Have there been any recent regulatory changes or interesting developments?
 
The key changes indeed include the wide reforms enacted in 2015 that involved almost all areas of employment law in Italy, and in particular the protection of employees in case of unfair dismissal and the industrial relations systems.

In fact, the economic crisis that was faced since 2008 has led the Government to enact a very significant reform of the protections of the newly hired employees (hired from March 7, 2015) in case of unfair dismissal, reducing the cases of reinstatement in the event of unfair dismissal and providing the newly hired employees with a progressive increase of protection during the employment relationship, with an indemnity that will increase along with the employees’ length of service.

In particular, the Legislative Decree has introduced in Italy a “dual track system”: in the event of unfair dismissal the newly hired employees are subject to the regulations recently entered into force, whilst to the employees hired prior to the enforceability of the same the previous and more protective labour regulations continue to apply.

In addition, the reform enacted by the Government in 2015 also restricted the use of CIG (Wage Guarantee Fund) which was largely asked by the Unions during the bargaining processes within reorganisations: this restriction has indeed entailed a change in the industrial relations as the Unions are no more able to ask the employer to use this cushioning system in a significant number of situations - as it happened in the past - as a matter of negotiation.
 
In what ways are new data privacy and social media issues affecting your approach to employment law and how do you advise clients on these matters?
 
As far as social media are concerned, in the recent years there has been an increase of case law related to the use of social networks by employees.

In the absence of any legislation regarding the use of social media by employees, and considering its increasing prevalence, our suggestion to clients, especially multinational companies, is to implement policies addressing its use, which can help when taking disciplinary action against an employee.

Similarly, the implementation of policies regarding the processing of personal data and the use of electronic mail systems may be of help in the event of misconduct of the employee in the use of e-mail account provided by the Company.
 
What legal issues do employers often overlook during a termination process?
 
Our multinational clients are indeed interested in knowing the potential termination costs. The main difficulty faced by clients and especially potential investors during the last years has always been the great uncertainty on severance costs in the event of unlawful dismissal (especially in case of dismissals for economic reason). In fact, the dismissal legislation until the above mentioned Jobs Act (that, as said, will continue to apply to “old” employees), provided the judge with a large discretionary power in deciding the amount of the severance payment for unlawful dismissal. This was indeed an important constraint in employing staff in Italy. Such difficulties are expected to be directly overcome as a result of the entering into force of the new labour reform above mentioned that provides less protective regulations in the event of unlawful dismissal of newly-hired employees and certainty on severance payments.
 
Which dispute resolution method do you find you most commonly recommend to employers and why?
 
In Italy the most commonly dispute resolution method used is indeed the conciliation. Due to the economic crisis that was faced since 2008, in Italy there has been an increase in disputes, particularly regarding unfair dismissal that indeed represents today the largest source of dispute. As a reaction, the Government has introduced a new “quick” settlement agreement applicable only to “newly hired” employees (i.e. hired after March 7, 2015) consisting in an offer made by the employer to the employee - within 60 days from the date of the dismissal - of a predetermined amount set forth by the law and will be immediately paid by the employer via a ‘cash cheque’. In case of newly hired employees this quick settlement offer would be indeed the most recommended being a sort of “win-win” situation as the amount granted is not subject to tax or social security contributions.

As far as the other alternative dispute resolution methods are concerned, it has to be highlighted that in Italy as of today – there is a draft of law currently under discussion – mediation cannot be used for employment disputes. As to arbitration, we have not registered an increase in its use.
 
What trends are you seeing with regards to whistleblowing cases?
 
During the last years, the wide reforms enacted have significantly changed the employment legislation in Italy. However, there are still big steps to go for Italian employment legislation, such as the introduction of the whistleblowing legislation in the private sector and a smart working legislation, both currently under debate in the Italian Parliament.

As far as whistleblowing is concerned, it is important to highlight that for a long time in Italy there was not a specific legislation on whistleblowing. This is now slowly changing. In fact, Law 190/2012 introduced a specific legislation on this matter, although it only refers to civil servants. In addition, Legislative Decree no. 72/2015 (implementing the Directive 2013/36/EU) - that entered into force in June 2015 - has introduced the obligation for the banks and the financial institutions, as well as for their parent companies, to adopt specific procedures for the internal reporting by the personnel of acts or facts that may constitute a violation of the relevant activity. The introduction of a specific legislation on this matter would indeed determine an increase of case law on whistleblowing that are currently quite rare and usually based on the violation of the general principles under Italian law of the duty of care and loyalty.
 
What impact has globalisation had on labour and employment trends?
 
Due to globalisation, multinationals are generally looking to apply uniformly benefits and compensation plans for all their personnel across all subsidiaries. This brings the need for a due analysis of the compliance of such benefits and compensation plans with local laws. In fact, the different national legislation in various countries, especially in terms of social contributions and tax payment, has an impact on their application. In this regards, some new welfare measures for employees have been implemented in the last year in order to redistribute wealth to employees also by lowering taxes on specific amounts.

Angelo Zambelli is a co-managing partner and Executive Committee’s member of the firm, and leads the Employment and Industrial Relations department of Grimaldi Studio Legale, a multi-practice law firm with offices in Milan, Rome, Brussels, London, Lugano and Bari.

He has built an outstanding reputation in employment and labour law, industrial relations and issues relating to agency contracts and labour law disputes, acquiring in-depth knowledge of the planning and
implementation of extraordinary finance operations and restructuring plans, including the reorganisation and downsizing of subsidiaries of Italian and international groups. He works alongside clients, advising them on the handling of complicated industrial relations matters. He often represents companies during negotiations. Effusive client feedback and impressive deal activity have seen Angelo Zambelli rise to the top of the rankings. He is particularly well regarded for his expertise in union negotiations, and is also highlighted for his commercial awareness and his client-focused approach.

Mr Zambelli received his law degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Milan in 1987, and became a member of the Italian Bar Association in 1992. He was admitted to practise at the Italian Supreme Court in 2004. He is the Italian representative of the Employment Law Alliance (ELA) and a member of the Italian Employment Lawyers Association (AGI), the Italian HR Managers Association (AIDP), the European Employment Lawyers Association (EELA), the International Bar Association (IBA) and the American Bar Association (ABA).

Mr Zambelli has published several books on employment law and trade union issues, the latest of
which are: Licenziamenti Individuali e Collettivi Prima e Dopo il Jobs Act, ("Individual and Collective Dismissals Before and After the Jobs Act", 2015); Labour and Employment Compliance Handbook (Italian Section, International Bar Association and Wolters Kluwer; third edition, 2015); Diritto Sindacale ("Trade Union Law - Industrial Relations after the Jobs Act", 2015); La Nuova Riforma del Lavoro: Licenziamenti Collettivi ("The New Labour Law Reform: Collective Dismissals", 2014); Labour and Employment Compliance in Italy (Italian section, International Bar Association and Wolters Kluwer, second edition, 2014); Riforma del Lavoro: Licenziamenti Individuali e Collettivi ("Labour Law Reform: Individual Dismissals and Redundancy", Il Sole 24 Ore, 2012); Diritto Sindacale e Relazioni Industriali ("Trade Union Law and Industrial Relations", 2012); Codice del Processo del Lavoro ("Labour Procedure Case Law Collection", second edition, 2010); Diritto Sindacale ("Trade Union Law and Industrial Relations", fifth edition, 2012); Risoluzione del Rapporto di Lavoro ("Dismissal and Disciplinary Procedures", fourth edition, 2012); Le Assenze nel Rapporto di Lavoro ("Procedures for Absences in the Workplace", co-author, first edition, 2006); Dieci Temi di Diritto del Lavoro ("Ten Themes on Labour Law”, co-author, 1996); and La Disciplina dei Licenziamenti ("Dismissal Procedure", third edition, 1995).

Mr Zambelli is ranked among the top 30 leading lawyers in Italy by both Legalcommunity and Condé Nast's GQ magazine, which lists professionals who stand out for managerial skills, strategic vision and media impact.

He won the Labour Award for Best Lawyer of the Year in Legalcommunity's 2015 and 2014 editions, as well as the Award for Best Lawyer of the Year for industrial and trade unions (2012 and 2013 editions). In addition, the Employment Law and Industrial Relations department has been recently awarded as Firm of the Year in Labour Restructuring 2016.

Angelo Zambelli has repeatedly been recognized as a leader in his field by leading legal directories
such as Chambers Global, Chambers Europe (band 1), The Legal 500, European Legal Experts, and Euromoney's Guide to the World's Leading Labour and Employment Lawyers, in addition to PLC's Global Counsel and Which Lawyer?, Who's Who Legal, Who's Who in the World and Best Lawyers.
In addition to his native Italian, he speaks English, French and Spanish.

Angelo can be contacted on +39 02 30309390 or by email at azambelli@grimaldilex.com

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