Italian Labour law includes some very specific rules addressing the secondment of employees between employers.
One particular aspect of secondments recently gave rise to a query sent by the main Italian employers’ association, Confindustria, to the Labour Ministry: namely the secondment of workers between group companies.
The issue which the Labour Ministry was asked to answer was as follows:
Given that the law requires the seconding employer to have a specific “interest” in the secondment, when looking at secondment of personnel within the same group of companies, does the very fact that the Group exists constitute a valid “interest”?
The Labour Ministry’s decision on this this issue was as follows:
- a secondment occurs when an employer, for his own interest, temporarily places its workers at the disposal of another employer; and
- the seconding employer’s interest must be specific, relevant, concrete (and could even be of a non-economic character);
a secondment between companies of the same group can be considered valid given that the seconding Company’s interest in the secondment can be considered to coincide with the Group’s common interest of achieving a positive Group economic result.
The above principle does not however apply to secondments to supplementary social security funds in which the companies of the Group, in their role as stockholders, participate. In fact, such funds (which are aimed at granting the employees an additional pension on top of the pension granted by the law and paid by the National Social Security Body – INPS) are a separate legal entity, completely distinct and autonomous from the companies that participate in them.
Impact on Employers
The secondment of employees within a group of companies will be easier, and it will consequently be more difficult for the seconded employees to challenge the secondment.
When dealing with intra group secondments, employers should exercise care when drafting the letter of secondment by making specific reference to the interest of the group in the secondment.
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