The 2017 Stability Act confirms and extends the lines of action initiated by our country in terms of corporate welfare and work-family reconciliation. Since the 2016 Stability Act, the Government has taken a series of measures aimed at boosting corporate welfare through essentially two tools: the productivity premium, as a source of resources to provide welfare goods and services to employees, and the expansion of the basket of services through the update of Article 51 of THE TUIR.
The 2017 Stability Act confirms this trend by expanding the use of the productivity premium and strengthening maternity support tools as an improvement on work family reconciliation.
The government crisis, however, is likely to have a very heavy effect on these measures. Some of them require the approval of specific implementing decrees to be implemented, while others that would have to operate in synergy, such as those on smart working and non-entrepreneurial self-employment, are in the middle of legislative processes that are more uncertain than ever. Others, started experimentally, should have been corrected and improved.
Measures on productivity premium and corporate welfare
The financial manoeuvre provides for the extension of the scope of productivity premium concessions and enhances the role of corporate welfare. Already in the Stability Act 2016 it was envisaged that employees could receive result bonuses and profit-sharing by enjoying a 10% replacement rate, or to convert the same premium into welfare goods and services by enjoying the tax breaks provided by art. 51 of the TUIR – without that that these services contributing to the formation of employee income, within specific limits.
The 2017 Budget Act aims to consolidate the path taken by expanding the reach of beneficiaries and the amounts of premiums: the maximum cap on employee income that allows access to the subsidized tax is raised from 50,000 to 80,000 euros; The amounts of premiums payable increase from 2,000 to 3,000 euros in general, and from 2,500 to 4,000 for companies that involve workers equally in the organization of work.
In addition, the range of services included in Article 51 of the TUIR, which had already been updated last year to include all childcare services and opening up to care services for elderly or non-self-sufficient family members, is expanding. "Article 51, paragraph 2, of TUIR – reads the text of the Stability Law 2017 – include the contributions and premiums paid by the employer in favour of the generality of employees or categories of employees for benefits, including in insurance form, which are concerned with the risk of non-self-sufficiency in the fulfillment of the acts of daily life, or for the purpose of the risk of serious illnesses." It is also specified that they do not contribute to the formation of the income of employees, nor are contributions to supplementary pension forms and health care contributions subject to the regulated replacement tax, even if they exceed the previously applicable limits of EUR 5,164.57 and EUR 3,615.20 respectively.
Birth and conciliation measures
In addition to the corporate welfare measures, the Stability Act also provides for several measures that promote the reconciliation between life and work, although still too focused on mere monetary transfers:
- Bonus "mom tomorrow": from January 1, 2017 is recognized a premium at the birth or adoption of less than the amount of 800 euros. The prize, which does not contribute to the formation of the total income, is paid by the INPS in one solution, at the request of the future mother, from the completion of the seventh month of pregnancy or at the time of adoption;
- Nursery vouchers: Starting in 2017, for those born on January 1, 2016, a voucher of 1,000 euros per year is set up on 11 monthly payments for the payment of fees related to the attendance of public and private nurseries, as well as for the introduction of forms of support at home for children under the age of three suffering from serious chronic diseases. The voucher is paid by the INPS. It should be noted that if you use the Nursery Voucher, you will also not be able to take advantage of the tax deduction provided for the documented expenses of enrolment in nurseries incurred by parents (equal to 19% of the total documented annual expenses, incurred up to a maximum of 632 euros), nor the Voucher Baby Sitter. An implementation decree will be needed for implementation;
- Parental leave for employed father: introduced experimentally in 2013, it increases to 2 days for 2017, and to 4 in 2018 (5 if one applies to those of the mother). It should be used within 5 months of birth even non-continuous;
- Voucher baby sitter: given the success of the trial, the "Voucher Baby Sitter" is extended for the years 2017 and 2018, i.e. the possibility for the working mother to apply, at the end of maternity leave and within the next eleven months, as an alternative to parental leave, vouchers for the purchase of baby sitting services or daycare. This is 600 euros per month for 6 months, 3 for self-employed women. Finance has increased the resources allocated to self-employed women;
- Birth support fund for access to credit: In order to support families and to boost the birth rate, a revolving fund, called the 'Birth Support Fund', is set up at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers to promote access to credit for families with one or more children, born or adopted from 1 January 2017 , through the issuing of direct guarantees, including guarantees, to banks and financial intermediaries. In this case, too, a ministerial decree will be used for the start-up.
Risks of political instability
However, some of these measures, which could have an improving impact on the lives of many citizens, promote their chances of work-life balance, are at least partially unfulfilled. The resignation of the Renzi government and the consequent political uncertainty, as mentioned, could in fact delay (if not prevent) the approval of many ministerial decrees necessary to make the legislation on welfare and conciliation fully operational (as could also happen in other areas, such as the anti-poverty law).
If the consultations lead to a government that will work in continuity with the resignation, presumably, there should not be any major hitches. But if a "breaking" executive were to be established, a continuity of policies is not likely to be guaranteed. And the prospect looks even more uncertain in the event of a return to the ballot box.
A situation of political instability that can therefore have important repercussions for the country on these fronts as well.