Covid and safety at work – what changes for companies as of 1 July

The Shared Protocol to combat contagion in the workplace has been updated.

As announced in the Italian Ministry of Labour’s communiqué dated 4 May, the Government and social partners respected their commitment: on 30 June 2022 they met and updated the Shared Protocol of 6 April 2021 containing guidelines to limit the spread of Covid in the workplace.

Despite the fact that the state of emergency is by now a distant memory and the regulatory framework having changed considerably, the increase in contagions over recent weeks means everyone must keep their guard up. Companies in fact still need to adopt measures that ensure safe healthy working environments and methods.

This measure, as the Ministry itself has also stated, is more streamlined and will remain in force until 31 October 2022, unless the epidemic situation calls for it to be updated sooner.

Changes include elimination of the generalised obligation to use surgical masks in shared workplaces, which is replaced by the recommendation to wear FFP2 masks in closed and shared environments or those open to the public or where, in any case, it is not possible to maintain a one-metre distance between persons. These masks must be provided by employers.

The obligation to provide FFP2 masks for workers continues, with particular regard for the vulnerable, identified by the employer as instructed by the competent doctor or the Head of the Prevention and Protection Service, also taking into account tasks entrusted to them, the aforementioned work environments, as well as measures in the event of an outbreak in the company.

In this regard, the Protocol recalls that exceptional health surveillance of workers most exposed to the risk of infection must be carried out by the company doctor (or, when the company is not obliged to have one, by INAIL occupational doctors) and remains in force until 31 July 2022. Again with reference to vulnerable workers, the social partners are calling for the protection regulation to be extended until the end of the year.

Once again, emphasis is placed on the importance of smart working as a useful tool in the fight against Coronavirus, calling for an extension from 31 August to 31 October of the possibility of using agile work without agreements and with simplified communication methods.

Employers are still required to inform workers and anyone entering the workplace of the precautionary measures adopted, including refusing access to the company to anyone with a temperature exceeding 37.5° and the obligation to notify the onset of flu symptoms during working hours, with the simultaneous immediate obligation to wear an FFP2 mask instead of a surgical mask. Readmission to work after having the is allowed in compliance with the current isolation terms and is subject to a negative lateral flow or PCR test.

The new agreement no longer contains:

  • references to surgical masks which, since 30 April, are no longer considered personal protective equipment, or to quarantine after close contact, which is replaced by the so-called self-monitoring regime;
  • the precautions previously envisaged for external suppliers, transporters and visitors, with the only obligation still in force applying to employees of third-party companies to comply with the anti-contagion measures adopted by clients;
  • any ban on meetings, in-company events and in-person training.

On the other hand, there are no changes regarding: 

  • the obligation to ensure the periodic sanitisation and daily cleaning of premises, workstations and common areas, access to which remains restricted and for a limited time;
  • the obligation to take all personal hygiene precautions, in particular for hands, also using detergents provided by the employer;
  • the recommendation to adopt staggered entry and exit times in order to avoid gatherings.

It is clear, therefore, that companies must keep their attention levels high and promptly update internal prevention rules, also involving Works Councils, who continue to play a central role in the application of protocols.

Our firm is at your disposal for the necessary modifications to be made to your internal documents.

By: Alessia De Concilio and Stefania Vitiello

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