Corporate welfare: Italian companies believe in the instrument but only large companies develop structured policies

25 September 2023

According to research by HR Capital, the lack of specific regulations and incentive policies are the main factors of uncertainty.

Despite the absence of a proper regulatory definition of corporate welfare from a labour law perspective, in Italy the instrument continues to stand out as one of the most relevant in the labour world, although some areas of uncertainty still remain that require the legislator to make a further effort and introduce specific regulatory provisions.

This was revealed by research by HR Capital – a subsidiary of De Luca & Partners and a leader in outsourced personnel management and administration services – on the dissemination and use of corporate welfare by Italian companies.

In a general context where corporate welfare is substantially regulated by tax literature and identified as a set of goods and services provided by companies to employees to improve their private and working life, the HR Capital study shows that – among the companies advised by the firm – 25% of the companies that have developed an optimal corporate welfare policy – with the introduction, for example, of direct support for families, work-life balance, training, professional updating and pension provision – are large structured companies.

The remaining 75% of the sample, on the other hand, includes small and medium-sized companies that yet have to establish adequate policies or that do not introduce support policies because they are held back by the possible additional costs to be borne and by the lack of knowledge of the welfare instruments available, thereby simply offering more flexible products or services with a more immediate impact, such as meal vouchers or petrol coupons.

“The picture given by HR Capital’s study shows that the issue of corporate welfare still has several problems to be resolved,” emphasises Leonardo Zaffiri, CEO of HR Capital.”First of all, a certain and well-established legal definition is still lacking: reference is often made solely to fiscal aspects to identify corporate welfare, yet its common meaning is – in actual fact – much broader and all-inclusive, encompassing non-monetary initiatives and services to support and meet the personal and social needs of workers, developing their well-being in the most diverse fields, from health care to child care, from access to credit to leisure time”.

While the labour-law definition of corporate welfare is crucial to the progressive development of this instrument, its dissemination – made even wider after the pandemic moment – also opens up scenarios that are currently being identified, according to Leonardo Zaffiri: “The legislator has intervened on several occasions, though mainly by incentivising the combination of corporate welfare and performance bonuses, introducing measures to facilitate employers with tax and contribution benefits. However, in structural terms, further steps must be taken to promote specific regulatory provisions both concerning the economic field – for example, by setting up a system of concessions to support employers’ choices – and to incentivise the development of more effective, flexible and sustainable corporate welfare programmes, such as the digitisation of welfare platform management systems”.

Rassegna release

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