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31 July 2013
On May 9 2013 the Supreme Court issued a decision (10985) concerning the preventive redundancy notice required by Article 4(3) of Law 223/1991. The law provides that the preventive redundancy notice submitted to the relevant trade union must specify the number of employees to be made redundant, their positions in the company and their job profiles.
The case concerned the company Poste Italiane SpA, whose redundancy notice merely specified the number of redundant employees and listed their job profiles in general terms. The company – together with the trade union – also noted the employees' eligibility for retirement in the notice.
The court confirmed that a company can initiate a redundancy procedure to reduce costs. However, the redundancy notice must stipulate the reasons for the redundancy procedure and the measures introduced by the employer to mitigate the social consequences of the dismissals.
Regarding the reasons for the redundancy, Poste Italiane's notice lawfully specified the distribution of its overstaffing by job profile and geographical area in light of a planned geographical redistribution of employees and company reorganisation.
Regarding the job profiles to be included in redundancy notices, the employer need only specify the employee's specific tasks, rather than his or her exact job position. This is the usual practice where – as with Poste Italiane – the collective bargaining agreement categorises employees according to specific 'professional areas' with specific tasks.
In accordance with case law, the Supreme Court recalled the general principle by which, in a redundancy procedure, the employer and the trade union may choose selection criteria that differ from those established in law; however, such alternative standards must be objective and reasonable.
The court held that Poste Italiane's selection of employees for redundancy based on their eligibility for retirement was rationally justified, because this criterion allowed the company to select workers on equal terms who suffered relatively minor damage from dismissal, as they could replace the lost income from work with retirement income. As such, Poste Italiane had fulfilled its duty to mitigate the social consequences of the dismissals. The court further held this criterion to be all-inclusive, as it allowed the company to select employees at the national level and across all job profiles. The court therefore upheld the redundancy notice as valid with respect to Poste Italiane's selection criteria.
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