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Italy: Basic Income and Pension Reforms Take Effect

(Mar. 13, 2019) On January 29, 2019, new legislation creating certain social security benefits entered into force in Italy. ( Decree Law No. 4 of January 28, 2019, Urgent Provisions on Basic Income and Pensions ) (Decree Law No. 4), GAZZETTA UFFICIALE (G.U.), Jan. 16, 2019, G.U. website (in Italian).)
“Basic Income”: A New Social Benefit
Effective April 1, 2019, the new legislation creates a “Basic Income” (Reddito di cittadinanza, RDC) to strengthen employment and fight poverty, inequality, and social exclusion. (Decree Law No. 4, art. 1(1).) Another purpose of the RDC is to promote the right to information, instruction, and training for persons at risk of marginalization in society and the workplace. The RDC is designed to cover an essential level of goods and services for Italian citizens. ( Id. )
Concerning households composed exclusively of persons 67 years of age or older, the new legislation gives the RDC the name Pensione di Cittadinanza quale Misura di Contrasto alla Poverta’ (Citizenship Pension as a Measure to Combat Poverty) because it aims to fight poverty among the elderly. (Simone Micocci, Reddito di Cittadinanza (RdC), Guida INPS: Requisiti, Importo e Modulo per la Domanda [Requirements, Amount and Application Form], MONEY.IT (Mar. 8, 2019); Decree Law No. 4, art. 1(2).)
RDC Beneficiaries
  The RDC is granted to

households possessing Italian or EU citizenship, or
family members holding right of residence or right to permanent residence, or
citizens of third countries in possession of EU residence permits for long-term residents (Decree Law No. 4, 2(1)(a)(1)), or
residents in Italy for at least 10 years, the last two of which have been continuous (art. 2(1)(a)(2)).

In addition, beneficiaries must comply with certain requirements relating to the household’s current financial situation, including ownership of motor vehicles and the value of real estate and other assets. ( Id. art. 2(1)(b) & (c)(1).)
Excluded from the RDC are households whose members are unemployed as a result of voluntary resignation from their jobs during the previous 12 months, except in the case of resignation for just cause. ( Id. art. 2(3).)
Beneficiaries of the RDC may also receive benefits under the New Insurance Provision for Employment (La Nuova Assicurazione Sociale per l’Impiego, NASpL) and other income support instruments for involuntary unemployment. ( Id. art. 2(8).)
Components of the RDC
The RDC consists of two separate components: an annual family income supplement of as much as €6,000 (about US$6,797), which is calculated through a complex formula established in the applicable regulations, and an income supplement equal to the annual fee provided for in the rental contract up to €3,360 (about US$3,810) for households residing in rented dwellings. ( Id. art. 3(1)(a)–(b).)
The Law includes adjustment mechanisms for calculating the RDC in case the employment status of a beneficiary household member changes. ( Id. art. 3(8).)
Pacts for Employment and Social Inclusion (the “Pacts”)
The Law provides for a new benefit for those who issue a declaration of immediate availability to work and adhere to a personalized path to job placement and social inclusion. ( Id. art. 4(1).) This new benefit includes performing community service, receiving career retraining, and completing studies aimed at the beneficiary’s reinsertion into the job market and social inclusion. ( Id. ) The Law makes exceptions concerning the requirements established for receiving benefits under the Pacts for Employment and Social Inclusion programs for households containing members with disabilities. ( Id. art. 4(9)(d).)
When a preliminary assessment made by the competent agencies determines that the needs of a household relate mainly to its members’ work situations, they are to identify the employment centers where the beneficiaries must report and sign the Pact for Employment in order to receive the aforementioned benefits. ( Id. art. 4(12).) In cases where beneficiaries’ needs are complex and multidimensional, the beneficiaries must sign the Pact for Social Inclusion, under which the respective government agencies must coordinate their actions to provide the beneficiaries with unified services. ( Id. )
Online Platforms for the RDC and the Pacts
The RDC may be requested by the beneficiaries, and are then certified by the competent government agencies and disbursed online or at tax assistance centers. ( Id. art. 5(1).)
To administer the RDC and the Pacts, the Law establishes the creation of an online platform at the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies’ Unitary Information System for Social Services (Sistema Informativo Unitario dei Servizi Sociali, SIUSS). ( Id. art. 6(1).)
Penalties
The Law establishes punishments for specific offenses it describes, including imprisonment from two to six years for those who make false representations to benefits they aren’t entitled to. ( Id. art. 7(1).) Also punishable is the failure to communicate changes in income or assets, including those from irregular activities, as well as other necessary and relevant information that would result in the revoking or reduction of benefits. ( Id. art. 7(2).)
Miscellaneous Provisions
The new Law contains miscellaneous provisions concerning social security and other benefits related to the

accessing of pension benefits by contributors who are at least 62 years of age and have contributed to their pension funds for at least 38 years ( art. 14(1));
reduction of contributions by a beneficiary to enable early retirement, independent of the beneficiary’s age ( art. 15(1));
recognition of the right to early retirement for female workers who on or before December 31, 2018, have provided a contribution equal to or greater than 35 years, and for female workers in other specific situations ( art. 16(1));
repeal of previous legislative provisions regarding age increases and the retirement age due to the increase in the life expectancy of certain workers ( art. 17(1)); and
optional exclusion from the contributory ceiling for those working in sectors where there are no complementary social security schemes shared by the employer ( art. 21(1)).

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