HR checklist to deal with nCoV
Further to the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic (Covid-2019) in Italy, we have prepared a checklist to enable employers to manage employment-related matters in the best way possible, in line with information available and legislation in force as of today:
- Deal with the emergency by assessing the specific risks for the company, according to the provisions of the Health and Safety Laws, and involve the relevant functions (the person responsible for the preventive and protective service, so-called RSPP; the company doctor and the workers’ representative for safety at the workplace, so called RLS) and introduce a company function to constantly monitor updates concerning the coronavirus, by visiting the WHO website, the websites of the Regions' involved and the FAQs of the Ministry of Health.
- Immediately remove from work employees who reside in the so-called "red zone" (for the list of municipalities affected by the urgent measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, can be found in Annex 1 to the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers dated 23 February 2020, mentioned in the following point).
- Make employees work remotely, if possible, by using smart working arrangements. According to the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers dated 23 February 2020, smart working is applicable without the need of an agreement to all employment relationships in the areas considered at risk (in the absence of further details, we believe there are reasonable grounds to state that this may apply to the entire Lombardy Region, which is the subject of the Ordinance of the Ministry of Health / Lombardy Region dated 23 February 2020).
- Provide employees with informational material on the most common symptoms (fever, dry cough, sore throat and breathing difficulties) and on precautionary measures aimed at limiting the risk of spreading the coronavirus, such as washing hands frequently, paying attention to surface hygiene, avoiding contact with people with flu symptoms and controlling home temperature.
- Consider the possibility of controlling employees' body temperature when they come to work, if the spread of the coronavirus continues. This measure is subject to the authorization of the company doctor, who may ask to adopt of special measures to ensure the employees' privacy.
- Encourage a constant dialog with employees, asking for information that may be useful to identify any risk, and give them all of the necessary instructions aiming to reduce the exposure to risks. For instance, it is possible to ask employees about their recent travels and those of their family members, balancing privacy and health protection needs.
- After consultation with the company doctor, provide employees with PPE (Personal Protection Equipment), in addition to any equipment that they usually wear for safety purposes, (e.g. masks to wear or additional hand cleansers to use).
- Postpone employees' meetings (throughout the Lombardy Region, meetings and gatherings have been suspended) and travels that are not urgent and adopt alternative solutions, such as organizing video or conference calls and webinars.
- Remind all employees of their obligation to report any transit or stopover in the municipalities of the so-called "red zone" to the health authority. We believe that employers may also request employees to report the above, in an effort to contain the risks.
- If an employee is absent because he/she has been infected by coronavirus, rules governing sick leave apply. If an employee is not sick but in quarantine as a result of an order of the public authorities (e.g. in the so-called "red zone"), this is considered impossibility of performance or force majeure. Consequently, both the employee and the employer are freed from their respective obligations — the employee from performing working activity and the employer from the obligation to pay remuneration. In the absence of specific statutory rules, provisions of the collective agreements providing for the possibility for the employee to use paid leave linked to the occurrence of uncommon events may apply. In other cases, the employer can make employees use vacation or agree with them a period of unpaid leave.
- Social shock absorber: pursuant to what recently stated by the Minister of Labour, in case of suspension of business activity, the employer may apply for the so-called "CIG", a special national funded shock absorber that reimburses salary of employees (up to a certain amount) in certain crisis conditions. Other measures may also be available, namely: (i) CIGO (i.e. ordinary redundancy fund) if the company is eligible; (ii) FIS (i.e. salary integration fund) if the company has more than 15 employees; or (iii) CIGD (i.e. special redundancy fund) provided by special laws to be enacted (and funded specifically).
The above information may change and require updating depending on how the emergency evolves and new provisions issued by public authorities.