Brussels, 21 June 2012
Collective redundancies: Commission requests Italy to end exclusion of managers from information and consultation rules
The European Commission has requested Italy to end the exclusion of managers (dirigenti) from the procedural guarantees for information, consultation of workers at the workplace laid down by EU law. The Collective Redundancies Directive harmonises rules on the procedure and practical arrangements for on collective redundancies at EU level so as to ensure comparable protection of workers' rights in all Member States.
Italian legislation, as applied by the courts, currently excludes dirigenti from the scope of the mobility procedure depriving this category of workers of the protection arising from this procedure.
The exclusion of dirigenti constitutes not only unjustified discrimination against dirigenti but may also, in certain cases, lead to an unjustified weakening of the protection of other categories of workers at the workplace. In particular, it may make it more difficult to reach the redundancies threshold required by law for triggering the information and consultation procedure.
To ensure proper implementation of the Directive the definition of 'workers' cannot be left to the discretion of Member States. On the contrary, 'workers'must be defined a uniform manner across the EU, in line with the objectives of the Directive, the principle of equality and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The Commission's request takes the form of a 'reasoned opinion' under EU infringement procedures. Italy now has two months to inform the Commission of measures taken to bring its legislation into line with EU law. Otherwise the Commission may decide to refer Italy to the EU's Court of Justice.
Directive 98/59/EC requires any employer contemplating collective redundancies to hold consultations with workers' representatives with a view to reaching an agreement. These consultations have to include ways and means of avoiding collective redundancies or reducing the number of workers affected, and of mitigating the consequences by recourse to accompanying social measures aimed at redeploying or retraining those workers made redundant.
The Commission became aware of the infringement in Italy concerning the exclusion of dirigenti through a petition submitted to the European Parliament.
The category of dirigenti includes, according to case-law, not only senior managers who exercise large, discretional decision-making power with regard to the undertaking including the management of staff, but also middle and junior managers who have a high level of professional knowledge but do not perform the role of alter ego of the employer and have no wide power to manage the means of production of the undertaking.
Italy implemented EU law on collective redundancies by way of Law No 223/1991. The competent Italian authorities, including courts, interpret this law as excluding dirigenti from the calculation of the number of redundancies which the employer intends to effect and from the procedural guarantees related to information and consultation of workers at the workplace.
Council Directive 98/59/EC of 20 July 1998 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to collective redundancies:
For more information on infringement procedures:
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Emer Traynor (+32 2 292 15 48)
Natasja Bohez Rubiano (+32 2 296 64 70)