I. Guidelines and General Principles
“According to these premises, as well as in the framework of Italy’s constant commitment as a member of the Human Rights Council, the second Italian NAP-BHR intends to strengthen the application of the UNGPs through a series of complementary measures, referring in particular to the following guidelines:
– addressing issues and practices related to the protection of the environment, health, decent work and ‘Human Rights Defenders’, also in the face of the new challenges posed by the gig economy and in the context of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), in correlation with the challenges of multidimensional post-Covid-19 reconstruction” (p. 7)
“A particular attention to BHR issues has been introduced in the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024, in the perspective of a wider process for the elaboration of a comprehensive EU framework dedicated to the implementation of the UNGPs. In the aforementioned document, the institutions commit themselves to conducting a dialogue with businesses in order to increase the level of protection and promotion of human rights, with the aim of combating corruption and introducing good practices in the area of corporate social responsibility, Due Diligence, accountability and access to remedy, and to fostering contacts and exchanges between businesses and civil society also in the area of women’s empowerment, sustainable development and decent work.” (p. 9)
“For a commitment to ‘Build Back Better’, it is necessary to strengthen measures to safeguard the rights and social protection of workers, especially female workers, together with greater use of financial assistance and tax relief measures.” (p. 10)
b) Italy and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)
“”The NAP addresses the issue of the negative impact of business activities on human rights and identifies specific commitments with the aim of effectively integrating the UNGPs into the national system and business activities” and introduces limited objectives and actions, with reference to the national context translated into the following priorities:
2. The fight against caporalato (especially in the agricultural and construction sectors) and forms of exploitation, forced labour, child labour, slavery and irregular work, with particular attention to migrants and victims of trafficking.” (p. 10)
c) National Priorities
“7. The protraction of planning and implementation of supervisory actions and information initiatives for the prevention of offences and the promotion of legality in the field of outsourcing of entrepreneurial activities and subcontracting chains, aimed at guaranteeing adequate protection for workers and effective awareness of their rights.” (p. 11)
IV. Italian ongoing activities and future commitments
Irregular work and the agricultural sector
“Law No. 199/2016 on combating caporalato in agriculture has already achieved significant results: the Italian Government aims to fully implement the law, not only to repress the phenomenon but also to prevent it, as well as to strengthen the Network of quality agricultural work. To this end, on 16 October 2019, the Inter-institutional Steering Committee on Caporalato was set up, whose work led to the approval of the Three-Year Plan (2020 – 2022) in February 2020. This plan develops the national strategy to combat caporalato and labour exploitation in agriculture and obtained the agreement of the Unified Conference in May 2020.
It provides for an implementation strategy articulated in three different phases: an initial phase of analysis of the phenomenon, followed by emergency interventions in the most critical areas and then a systemic action that embraces the entire national territory. The latter is structured on four priority axes that concern: (i) prevention, (ii) vigilance and contrast to the phenomenon, (iii) protection and assistance for victims, (iv) their socio-occupational re-integration. For each of these axes, the Plan identifies priority actions (in a total of 10 actions of which 7 are dedicated to prevention) that involve, in a multi-level governance setting, the different administrations at central, regional and local level. The thematic priorities of the Plan were entrusted to six dedicated Groups, which were joined over time by two additional technical groups committed, respectively, to the development of the information system on the agricultural labour market and to the protection, assistance and socio-occupational reintegration of victims, both coordinated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies.
In 2020 a new working group was created within the Committee coordinated by the Directorate General of Immigration and Integration Policies of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies. It was dedicated to protection and first aid to victims of labour exploitation. The working group counts upon the collaboration of experts from the Department for Equal Opportunities of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, ANCI Reception and Integration System (former SPRAR), the Directorate General for the fight against poverty 20 and social planning of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, Regions, ANPAL, INAPP, INL, IOM and Consorzio Nova. The work of the group, which started in December 2020, continued in the first half of 2021 and, in particular, 7 meetings were held which led, in line with the objectives of the Three-Year Plan, to the development of a draft of guidelines on the identification, protection and assistance of victims of labour exploitation and a proposal to amend the concerned legislation (Arts. 18 and 22 of Legislative Decree No. 286/1998). The Guidelines were officially presented to Committee in its meeting of 27 July 2021, obtaining broad consensus. The working group also started an in-depth analysis over forms of support and compensation provided in the current legislation and of additional measures that could be issued to promote better protection of victims of labour exploitation.
The National Institute of Labour (INL) has launched extraordinary surveillance campaigns based on a multi-agency approach in some areas of Southern Italy (only in the agricultural sector) and of Central and Northern Italy (mainly, but not only, in agriculture) where the phenomena of forced labour and labour exploitation of migrants are particularly present. In order to implement these projects, special task forces were set up consisting of local inspectors, Carabinieri from the Labour Inspectorate Units, inspectors from other territories, as well as the aforementioned cultural mediators. The inspections were 22 planned in coordination with local authorities (Public Prosecutor’s Office and Prefectures) and with other supervisory bodies involved from time to time (INPS, INAIL, State Police, GdF, ASL…). The presence of the IOM cultural mediators, moreover, favoured the establishment of a relationship of trust between the inspection bodies and exploited workers, promoting their cooperation and also ensuring the activity of taking charge and protection of potential victims for the purpose of their subsequent socio-occupational reintegration (also through the paths provided by Arts. 18 and 22 of Legislative Decree No. 286/1998 – Consolidated Immigration Act).
In 2020 the INL has significantly implemented its counteracting action on caporalato and labour exploitation. It has also implemented action 8 “Strengthening of surveillance activities and counteracting labour exploitation” of the Three-year Plan to combat labour exploitation in agriculture and caporalato (2020-2022) and of aforementioned project initiatives based on experimentational approach. In particular, the INL has carried out and coordinated extraordinary surveillance campaigns in some areas of Southern Italy (in the agricultural sector only, with the project Su.Pr.Eme (funded by the EU Commission and supported by the project PIU’ SU.PRE.ME, for an amount of about € 50 million for the implementation of interventions in Puglia, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily) and Central Italy (mainly, but not only in agriculture, with the project A.L.T. Caporalato! project, financed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies for an amount of € 3 million for actions in the territories of central and northern Italy), where the phenomena of forced labour and labour exploitation of migrants are particularly diffused. In order to ensure the best possible organization of task forces in the geographical areas concerned, particular emphasis was placed on the activation of all useful coordination with the local Public Prosecutor’s Office and all appropriate institutional cooperation at territorial level with the Prefecture, the police and other supervisory bodies (INPS, INAIL and ASL). In order to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations and thus contribute to reducing the risk of accidents and preventing occupational deaths, all useful synergies have been activated within the Regional Committees pursuant to Art. 7 of the Consolidated Act No. 81/2008 and the Provincial Committees for the participation of ASL prevention technicians in the activities of the task forces. Finally, contacts were made with the IOM referents of each regional context and with the bodies and associations of the anti-trafficking network in territories involved to ensure timeliness and effectiveness of any interventions to take charge of and provide protection to victims of severe exploitation identified during the operations. According to collected data and constantly evolving, during 2020 in 44 weeks task forces took action in Basilicata, Campania, Calabria and Apulia Regions and in L’Aquila, Latina and Florence provinces: 758 inspections were carried out and 4,767 work positions were checked. As a result of the inspections (some of which are still in progress), to date, 1,069 workers have been identified as being involved in labour violations, 421 of whom were employed illegally, 205 potential victims of labour exploitation were identified and 22 perpetrators were reported to judicial authorities. INL inspection staff activities in the fight against caporalato and labour exploitation, despite difficulties due to the epidemiological emergency, have achieved the following results: – 478 offenders were referred to the judicial authorities, 61 of whom were arrested; – protection of 1,850 possible victims of the crime of caporalato and labour exploitation, 119 of whom are more exposed due to their non-EU citizenship status without a regular residence permit. In relation to the agricultural sector only: – 323 offenders were referred to judicial authorities, 43 of whom were arrested; – identification of 1,104 victims of exploitation, including 55 without a regular residence permit. The percentage of workers who are victims of labour exploitation in relation to the total number of irregular workers in the primary sector was by far the highest at 18.6%. On the other hand, taking as a reference the parameter of the number of irregular inspections defined in the year by the INL staff , in agriculture, an average of 37 exploited workers were found for every 100 inspected companies against which irregularities were contested. In 2021, in light of the significant results achieved the previous year also thanks to the extraordinary task forces of the two projects mentioned above, INL has further strengthened such inspection action on the territory through the scheduling of about 150 weeks of task force, with a commitment more than tripled compared to the 44 weeks of activities carried out in 2020. In addition, given the success of these experiences, on 11 March 2021 the INL and IOM signed a memorandum of understanding. Lasting two years, the memorandum is aimed at structuring the collaboration between the INL and IOM and extending multi-agency interventions to the whole national territory. It also takes into account the indications and objectives of the Three-Year Plan. On the basis of the lessons learnt, specific guidelines for the personnel employed in the surveillance operations on the territory are being developed within the Working Group coordinated by INL. (p.23)
“Regarding gender leadership issues, the Task Force “Women for a New Renaissance”, established by the Ministry of Equal Opportunities and Family in 2020 to address the impact of Covid-19 on gender issues has produced a Final Report, based on quantitative data and qualitative scientific information on the impact of the pandemic in different sectors. Among the Task Force’s multiple proposals there are those ones targeted to:
– increase the proportion of women in all areas of employment;
– overcoming barriers to advancement in career paths, particularly in the fastest growing fields (STEM, computer science, cloud computing, data and artificial intelligence); – countering gender stereotypes that prevent women from achieving leadership responsibilities, in order to activate new energies and opportunities for all.
The National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) also addresses gender inequalities in a cross-cutting manner. In particular, the PNRR places three cross-cutting priorities alongside the three strategic axes shared at European level (digitalization and innovation, ecological transition and social inclusion). This includes the promotion of gender equality, with the aim of investing at least € 7 billion by 2026, to be used to ensure a level playing field in the labour market, close the gender pay gap and increase the number of women in positions of responsibility, ultimately including the presence of women in the political sphere.
Law No. 4 of 15 January 2021, ratifying and implementing the International Labour Organization Convention n. 190 on the elimination of violence and harassment in the workplace, represents an important evolution in the field of gender protection in the business context. Legislative Decree No. 81/08 and related Decree No. 106/09 had adequately covered safety issues in the workplace, but had not included the issue of harassment, which in fact is limited to occupational safety measures or to internal policies and voluntary practices of companies. In addition, to clarifying the scope of their application, measure 4/2021 provides for the adoption of an inclusive, integrated and gender-centred approach: the private sector, like the public sector, is therefore adopting concrete procedures and tools with the goal of combating violence and protecting employees through guidance and training on prevention.
With regard to gender discrimination in the workplace, territorial offices of the National Labour Inspectorate (INL), performing their supervisory activity, also carry out investigations in relation to equal opportunity regulations and the prohibition of gender discrimination in the workplace, including in terms of remuneration.” (p. 29)
Children’s and adolescents’ rights
“Italy also promotes “family friendly policies”, as national and corporate policies aimed at supporting workers in their role as parents/caregivers. On this issue, UNICEF has formulated some important indications on the best ways Governments and the private sector can build “family friendly” policies:
– encouraging employers to introduce gender-sensitive and inclusive paid leave entitlements, flexible working arrangements and childcare support systems;
– the introduction of paid parental, maternity and paternity paid leave in the early-birth period and for the first year of a child’s life; fair and gender-sensitive parental leave to ensure that no parent is overburdened by family care; leave available to all, both for full-time employees and those working part-time or under non-standard contractual arrangements; and financial coverage linked to birth care;
– childcare services made accessible by the end of parental leave, so that there is no gap in available support;
– quality childcare services, made accessible, flexible and affordable, available to all children, regardless of family circumstances;
– alignment of childcare services with other family support policies, such as universal family allowances, to reduce the risk of existing inequalities in access to public childcare facilities.” (p. 40)
The principle of Diversity management in the business context
“In general, the issue of inclusion of vulnerable people in the workplace and the promotion of diversity management is a strategic line of action under the mandate of the National Anti-Racial Discrimination Office (UNAR).
With reference to the adoption of National Plans and Strategies, in coherence with the European indications, UNAR started consultation processes involving administrations at central, regional and local level and third sector representatives for the elaboration of the following documents:
– the National LGBTI Strategy; – the National Plan against Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance;
– the National Strategy for the Inclusion of Roma, Sinti and Caminanti.
These Plans and Strategies will foresee, with reference to their respective priority axis “Work”, concretely achievable objectives and actions specifically aimed at the protection of human rights through the promotion of diversity management in the workplace and the sharing and dissemination of good corporate practices.
On this matter during 2020 the INL inspection staff implemented, as usual, initiatives for the prevention and promotion of legality, through the organization of specific information meetings, pursuant to Art. 8, paragraph 1, Legislative Decree No. 124/2004. It also deals with equal opportunities and combating discrimination in the workplace. Such regulation is among the competences of Labour Inspectorates at the local level. Through their own inspection staff, they can organize specific events with the purpose of guaranteeing and assuring proper compliance with labour regulations and social security and assistance measures, focusing on the social relevance as well as on legislative and interpretative innovations from Administrations.
With reference to the need to draw attention to impacts of business activity on family life and children’s rights, the Department for Family Policies published the new public call “#Conciliamo”, amounting to € 74 million, on 8 November 2019 for family-work reconciliation projects by companies, networks and groups of associated or controlled companies. Available funds will be used for interventions that promote a welfare tailored to families and to improve the quality of life of working mothers and fathers. The call has several specific objectives: the demographic revival, increase in female employment, rebalancing of workloads between men and women, support for families with relatives with disabilities, health protection, combating the abandonment of the elderly. Participation has been opened to companies referred to in Arts. 2082 and 2083 of the Civil Code, as well as networks and groups of related or controlled companies.” (p. 41)
“Legislative Decree No. 50/2016 (Public Contracts Code) has transposed 2014 EU Directives in force in this field: basic principles are aimed at guaranteeing access to and the conduct of decent work, respect for social and labour rights, as far as SMEs’ participation in public contracts.” (p. 48)
Fight against corruption
“In Italy Whistleblowing was introduced by the anti-corruption law (Law No. 190 of 6 November 2012, “Provisions for the prevention and repression of corruption and illegality in public administration”), adopted in compliance with recommendations and conventional obligations emanating from the UN, OECD, Council of Europe and European Union. This law provides for a system of enhanced protection for public employees who report unlawful conducts. Law No. 179 of 30 November 2017 strengthened the preexisting whistleblower protection for public employees and partially extended the same protection to the private sector.” (p. 50)
Internationalization of companies
“In compliance with Law No. 125/2014, which therefore considers companies as subjects of cooperation, the adherence of the company to the Global Compact has been made a mandatory prerequisite for participation to Profit Call published by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and dedicated to Italian and European companies for the implementation of innovative and sustainable business initiatives to be carried out in Developing Countries.
In order to participate in the above-mentioned Call, companies must have formally adhered to the 10 UN principles of the Global Compact and the UNGPs. Formal adherence to the principles of the UN Global Compact such as those relating to respect for human rights, workers, environmental protection and the fight against corruption, is a necessary requirement not only for sustainable economic growth, but also for the affirmation of democratic and participatory principles and the elimination of discrimination and inequality.
Attention to human resources and compliance with local regulations on worker safety are relevant and qualifying elements in the evaluation of Profit Initiatives in order to ensure respect for workers’ rights, environmental and health standards and human rights. In the Call for Proposals, it is explicitly provided that the implementation of the interventions must take place in compliance with the principles and aims of Law No. 125/2014, international standards on human rights, decent work, social responsibility and environmental protection, as well as the rules on public contracts and, in particular, the Public Contracts Code.” (p. 54)
ANNEX 1 – Accountability Grid and Assessment Tools for the Implementation of the NAP
“2. Update the implementation assessment information of Legislative Decree No. 231/2001 in order to evaluate its extension in terms of objectives and application of the administrative liability of legal persons, and to pursue the following objectives in this area:
– the fight against the crisis and the rate of unemployment suffered by economic sectors most affected by measures to counter the epidemic emergency (catering and the gastronomic sector; tourism/hotel sector; small businesses/individuals in the craft and retail sectors of Made in Italy);
– the implementation of inclusion policies that enhance the value of the human being coming from the most socially fragile contexts, with particular reference to the contribution offered by female population, through its full involvement in management and in social recovery of the assets in question” (p. 61)
“3. Strengthen the role of competent bodies and inspection activities in combating and controlling the emergence of irregular work and caporalato, pursuant to Art. 103 of the “Relaunch” Decree-Law No. 34 of 19 May 2020 (“Emergence of labour relations”)” (p. 61)
“4. Ensure the full implementation of the Three-Year Plan to Combat Labor Exploitation in Agriculture and Caporalato 2020-2022.” (p. 61)
“5. Develop new coordination measures in the activities of prevention and control of the phenomenon of irregular work and to encourage the operation of the “Network of quality agricultural work”.” (p. 61)
“6. Ensure full implementation of the National Action Plan against Trafficking and Serious Exploitation of Human Beings.” (p. 62)
“8. Continue to implement the provisions contained in the Second Disability Action Programme, with particular reference to line 5 “Labour and Employment” and to provisions concerning the definition of support measures and a system of incentives for first and second level bargaining over flexibility, part-time work and work-life balance for persons with disabilities or serious and chronic progressive illnesses or caregivers of persons with serious disabilities.” (p. 62)
“9. Promote the employment inclusion of persons with disabilities with attention to persons with disabilities with more severe disabling conditions.” (p. 62)
“11. Promote in a strengthened way women’s leadership and women’s empowerment in the business sector, through an effective implementation of Law No. 120/2011, and to strengthen measures to prevent gender discrimination in the workplace – depending on the better implementation of Law No. 4 of 15 January 2021 of ratification of the International Labour Organization Convention No. 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the Workplace. To this complex end, further actions will be promoted to:
(i) certify equality for companies through the definition of a simple, fast, streamlined and objective tool that measures the situation of staff according to different factors (recruitment, remuneration, career development), capable of stimulating change and having an impact on the entire productive and social system;
(ii) assess the gender impact (ex-ante and ex-post) in all business processes, in particular with regard to corporate restructuring processes (relevant for safeguarding gender balance in the post-Covid phase);
(iii) to promote transparency measures provided for in current legislation on compliance with gender equality rules by companies and public bodies.” (p. 62)
“13. Consolidate the commitment made at the national level with respect to international standards, in particular the Protocol relating to ILO Convention on Forced Labour of 2014 and Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)3 (monitoring) adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe with reference to business and human rights.” (p. 63)
“14. Update the information on the current legislative framework to combat illegal work and labour exploitation in the agricultural, construction, manufacturing and service sectors.” (p. 64)
“21. Reaffirm as a priority the elimination of all forms of exploitation of child labour in Italy and with reference to the economic activities of Italian companies abroad, as provided for by the relevant ILO Conventions; to this end, encourage the dissemination among companies of initiatives aimed at increasing attention on impacts of business activities on children’s rights and on the need for the inclusion of adequate remedies and mitigation measures as per the risk of violation of such rights. The inclusion of children’s rights in business practices includes: the provision of “family friendly policies” designed to support workers in their role as parents/caregivers (smart working, paid parental leave, social protection and adequate wages for all); the introduction of measures to monitor the presence of minors in the workplace; the adoption of Child Safeguarding Policies/Codes of Conduct to foresee, report and take charge of potential risk situations for minors who come into contact with the company; the provision of security guarantees for digital environment (data protection, access to age-appropriate content, privacy protection).” (p. 64)
“22. Encourage businesses in the dissemination of a culture of non-discrimination by:
(i) the promotion of agreements/protocols of understanding with trade unions and employers’ organizations for common and synergic actions to prevent and combat forms of discrimination in the workplace and for the full inclusion of workers;
(ii) the collection of statistical data on discrimination in employment and diversity management practices in Italian companies;
(iii) the promotion of good inclusive practices in the workplace;
(iv) the promotion of socio-occupational inclusion of transgender people, also through information, training, accompaniment and support to self-entrepreneurship;
(v) the promotion of an action to involve Italian companies, in line with UN Standards Standards of Conduct for Business on Tackling Discrimination against LGBTI people, in order to prevent and countering discriminatory behaviors and conducts against LGBTIQ+ persons and ensuring the full enjoyment of their rights;
(vi) the promotion of socio-occupational inclusion of Roma, Sinti and Caminanti people in precarious socio-economic conditions also through actions aimed at starting employment diagnoses, planning of personalized support towards training and employment, promotion of active social policies to encourage participation in the labour market as well as opportunities and strategies for the development of entrepreneurial initiatives (such as, for example, accompaniment and support for business start-up and/or repositioning of economic companies operating in critical sectors)
(vii) the promotion of entrepreneurial policies and good practices on inclusion and diversity management, entailing the implementation and reporting of the Charter for Equal Opportunities and Equality at Work.” (p. 65)
“23. Monitor the application of artificial intelligence in the workplace (e.g. recruitment mechanisms) for the purpose of assessing impact on human rights in terms of inclusion and non-discrimination.” (p. 65)
“50. Contribute, through exchange with governments and social partners, to good practices and common strategies to support the application of Due Diligence mechanisms in the debate on “Decent Work in the Global Supply Chain” promoted by ILO.” (p. 68)