The Court of Cassation move was an "innovative decision, but one that will lead to a possible increase in lawsuits by workers. It is appropriate both for companies to check the adequacy of salaries and for the CNEL to intervene to give clear indications quickly," commented Antonella Losinno, partner at the law firm Daverio & Florio.
In recent months the debate on the minimum wage in Italy has been very heated. It is an instrument present in almost all European countries, with the exception of Denmark, Austria, Finland, Sweden and, indeed, Italy (to which it is entrusted to the negotiation of collective agreements). But there is a novelty. In a recent judgment (27711 2nd Oct 2023), the Supreme Court of Cassation intervened, upholding the case of an unarmed private security worker, employed in a supermarket, who was asking for an adjustment to his salary, which was considered too low despite the fact that it was regulated by the national collective agreement applied by the cooperative where he was employed.
In particular, the Supreme Court ruled that for the purposes of assessing the 'just pay', it would not be sufficient to only compare it with the wages provided for by collective bargaining agreements in similar sectors, but other economic and statistical indicators should also be taken into account, as well as EU Directive 2022/2041.
In light of this ruling, what will be the impact on the world of work?
According to lawyer Antonella Losinno, partner at the Daverio & Florio law firm in Italy, specialised in labour law and social welfare law, this is an entirely innovative ruling, as it "remits to the Judges the assessment of the adequacy of remuneration to the principles of proportionality and sufficiency to ensure a free and dignified existence established by Article 36 of the Constitution, even in the presence of a collective sector agreement signed by the comparatively most representative trade unions indicating the minimum reference wage."
"In the past, in fact, the Judges had limited themselves to adapting to the principles of Article 36 of the Constitution the wages set by collective agreements signed by unions without real representation or where the employer did not apply any collective agreement."
"It is now likely that there will be an increase in lawsuits on the matter (already, however, pending before the courts of merit) by workers who feel that their pay is inadequate. It is therefore appropriate for companies to verify the adequacy of remuneration to the parameters indicated by the Supreme Court, even where they apply collective agreements signed by comparatively more representative trade unions."
"It is, therefore, to be hoped that clear indications will emerge from the National Economic and Labour Council (CNEL), which is working on the matter, as soon as possible, which in any case cannot fail to take into account what the Court has indicated," Ms Losinno added.