COVID-19 is urging, with some speed, unprecedented responses also from the actors of the second welfare: in this context and taking into account the economic difficulties that many Italian companies are facing, how does corporate welfare position?

Despite a stalemate on the institutional front, "I think it's a good thing that we're going to be able to do that," he said. Expansion: the higher the level of knowledge among the workers, the higher the awareness of the contribution that this tool can make to a higher quality of life.

In detail, according to the research, 54.5% of employees would be in favour of exchanging some pay increases for welfare services in the company, although the number of uncertain people is also growing compared to the previous year. 22.9% of respondents say that they are well aware of corporate welfare, with an annual increase of 5.3% undoubtedly auspicious despite the continuing strong knowledge gap between senior and executive figures. For 66.1% of the workers surveyed who already benefit, corporate welfare is having a positive impact on their well-being inside and outside the company. Finally, the numbers coming from the periodic report of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, of which the Censis-Eudaimon research makes an annual comparison, are called into question: of the 17,300 active contracts filed by telematics in November 2019, 52.7% (9,121) provided for corporate welfare measures; As of November 2018, the share was 46.1% of the contracts, thus reporting a percentage difference of 6.6%.

Taking a leap forward, the latest report – updated to 14 May 2020 – confirms the trend while at the same time detecting some first, perhaps inevitable, signs of difficulty. Since 2016, a total of 54,991 declarations have been filed by companies with the Ministry of Labour under Article 5 of DM 25 March 2016: 11,239 contracts currently active (of which 8,577 are corporate and 2,752 territorial). Overall, however, in the first quarter of 2020 there were "only" 1,577 new contracts filed, down from previous years when, in the same period between January and April, this same figure had always been higher than at least a thousand units (in ascending order, 2,619 in 2018, 2,843 in 2017 and 2,909 in 2019). However, according to the latter survey, the percentage of contracts that provides for corporate welfare measures continues to grow, reaching 57.4% (6,455 the absolute value) for a total of 1,924,079 workers involved, of which 1,853,021 per company contract and 71,058 per territorial contract. Finally, the report's data confirms, with regard to enterprise bargaining, the persistence of large disparities on a geographical and sectoral basis: the beneficiaries contract mainly in the northern regions and in the service and industry sectors, for which the average value of the "convertible" premium in corporate welfare benefits or services is also significantly higher.

While waiting to see the statistical trends of the coming months, a question arises: with more than 100,000 activities – excluding VAT numbers of self-employed and professionals – at risk of non-reopening and at least 1.5 million jobs equally faltering due to the pandemic according to the estimates of the Center for Studies and Research Social Security Itineraries, what fate awaits the corporate welfare in the post COVID-19?

If the future is uncertain, the present of the sector also offers contradictory scenarios. While on the one hand it is true that, for obvious and understandable reasons, in the course of the so-called phases 1 and 2 there were many other priorities of companies, as well as second-level bargaining – from the review of production activity to the reorganisation of working times and methods (shifts, smart working, holidays, use of the integration fund, etc.) during the lockdown , through the subsequent preparation of all the safety measures necessary to protect the health of workers at the time of the restart – it is in fact equally that, even at the height of the health crisis first and socio-economic then, several companies have resorted to ad hoc corporate welfare measures to respond quickly to the renewed needs of their employees, their families , when not even of its reference communities.

Measures, however, collected and recorded by Second Welfare Paths through an "Open Call for Good Pratices", ranging from educational port support for families to remote learning to extraordinary monthly bonuses for babysitting costs; or, from coronavirus-friendly insurance packages and health policies to monetary supplements aimed at ensuring that IGC workers have a monthly income close to normal pay. And that, although not necessarily for the advance of the future choices chosen by the entire sector, testify that the lower economic availability of companies will not necessarily coincide with a retreat of corporate welfare which, on the contrary, in the post-coronavirus phase could confirm an important weapon available to employers (and legislators) to increase the net income of employees, not resorting to wage additions , with all that would result also in terms of the tax and contribution wedge, but rather to a concrete supply of goods and services of primary need, with positive consequences for families and the whole economy.

Social benefits (complementary health provision, supplementary health care, LTC and social insurance), family (education for children, life-work conciliation tools, etc.) or more or less direct support to the profession itself (acquired technological devices, transport facilities, etc.) could become the tools through which to favour, even more so at a delicate time such as the one that follows the emergency triggered by SARS-CoV-2 , the definitive development of corporate welfare as a complementary and supplementary support of public welfare increasingly under pressure. However, provided that the plans are reviewed, which is already in use, that it knows, on the one hand, to grasp with innovative solutions the changed needs of potential beneficiaries and, on the other, to carry out that process of "finalization" on many sides invoked already in unsuspecting times.

In short, corporate welfare is at a crossroads. If the reference legislation is already a good starting point, the legislature in the first place, and therefore to companies and employees then, it is now up to the task of transforming COVID-19 into an opportunity to complete a definitive leap in quality that, without distorting the private nature of the instrument, can accentuate its already evident public value.