The Tax Decree, linked to the Budget Law 2022, restores the equalization of quarantine from Covid-19 to the sick leave for workers entitled to INPS protection until December 31, 2021. From January 31, 2020 through December 31, 2021, the charges borne by INPS are funded at €663.1 million for 2020 and €976.7 million for 2021. Private employers will receive, for each calendar year, a reimbursement of 600 euros for each worker who is not entitled to sick pay. With reference to workers who are instead entitled to receive the indemnity, the employer will remain responsible for the remuneration for the first 3 days of quarantine and the supplement to the indemnity for the following days.
Legislative Decree no. 146/2021, the tax amendment to the Budget Law 2022, restores the parity between periods of quarantine from Covid-19 and periods of sickness.
To this end, art. 8 amends in several parts art. 26 of Decree Law no. 18/2020, converted with amendments by Law no. 27/2020, which provided for the equalization for economic purposes of quarantine to sick leave in favor of workers entitled to protection by INPS and provides for its application until December 31, 2021, the date on which the state of emergency should also end.
This resolves the problem reported by INPS, which, with message no. 2842/2021, warned users that, since the legislator had not allocated new resources for 2021, the indemnity could not be paid for the events that occurred in that year and, perhaps, not even for part of 2020.
The financial coverage measure
Until December 31, 2021, the period spent in quarantine with active supervision or in fiduciary home stay with active supervision by employees in the private sector is equated with sick leave for the purposes of the economic treatment provided by the relevant regulations.
Compensation for employers…
Partial relief is now provided for employers in the private sector who bear the burden of sick leave since the worker is not entitled to economic sickness insurance with INPS. Since the provision that placed the burden borne by the employer at the expense of the State has been repealed, the intervention of the State is now aimed at compensating the burden borne by INPS for the protections in question.
Therefore, under the new rule, from January 31, 2020 until December 31, 2021, employers in the private sector insured with INPS (excluding domestic employers) will be able to receive for each calendar year, a lump-sum reimbursement of 600 euros for each worker who is not entitled to receive sick pay from INPS.
N.B. The reimbursement is due only in the event that the work performance, during the event, could not be carried out in agile mode.
The payment of the one-off is made by INPS upon presentation by the employer of a special application online accompanied by a statement certifying the periods referred to the protections provided for in this article to be transmitted in the manner and within the time that will be indicated by the Institute, which, in carrying out spot checks on the statements produced by employers, is authorized to acquire and process sensitive data contained in medical certificates and health records of workers concerned.
The benefit is recognized within the maximum expenditure limit of 188.3 million euros for the year 2021 and, if this limit is reached, INPS will not proceed with further reimbursements.
For workers who are entitled to receive sick leave benefits from INPS, on the other hand, the intervention of the State concerns only the indemnity paid by INPS and, therefore, the employer remains responsible for the charges for which it is responsible, which take the form of the remuneration due for the first three days of the event, the so-called shortage, and the integration of the indemnity for the subsequent days.
This change of direction, if maintained in the conversion of the decree into law, means that employers who have budgeted for the sums that should have been reimbursed by the State will now have to quantify the amounts left for them to carry at cost.
Protection of “fragile” workers
With regard to the protection of so-called “fragile” workers, as per paragraph 2, art. 26, of Law Decree no. 18/2020, art. 2-ter of Law no. 133 of September 24, 2021, which converted Law Decree no. 111 of August 6, 2021, extended the right to absence from work, equated to hospitalization, until December 31, 2021, thus until the end of the state of emergency, also extending the smart working regime. Therefore, until the end of 2021, fragile workers in the public and private sectors, with certification issued by the competent medical-legal bodies attesting to a risk condition deriving from immunodepression or from the outcome of oncological pathologies or from the performance of relative life-saving therapies, for whom it is not possible to activate smart working, can take time off work, seeing their absence equated with hospitalization. The period of absence is excluded from the calculation of the time of respite.