Video surveillance and remote controls: the Jobs Act has maintained the sanctions regime of the Workers’ Statute (Andrea Di Nino, Sintesi – Ordine dei Consulenti del Lavoro, October 2021)

22 October 2021

The Court of Cassation, in ruling no. 32234 of 23 April 2021, held that the sanctions regime laid down by Italian Law no. 300/1970, concerning the remote control of workers caused by video surveillance systems, has been maintained following the enactment of the Jobs Act.

In particular, in the case in question an employer set up a video surveillance system in his store. As can be seen from the Supreme Court ruling, the installation of such a system implied the company’s control of the “activities carried out by its sales staff in the store”.

Following an inspection visit to the store, a report was drawn up stating that there was a video surveillance system in the store that did not comply with the statutory requirements.

On this point, it should be recalled that Article 4 of Italian Law no. 300/1970 requires a trade union agreement or a specific authorisation from the Labour Inspectorate to install video-surveillance systems at work “which also imply the possibility of the remote control of workers’ activities”.

In additions, these systems “may only be used for organisational and production needs, for safety at work and for the protection of company assets”.

Initially, the first instance judge acquitted the employer as regards the violation of this provision, since it was held that “as a result of the entry into force of Italian Legislative Decree no. 196/2003,  the conduct in question is no longer regarded by law as an offence”.

The Public Prosecutor of the Court of Appeal of Campobasso appealed against that ruling, arguing that, contrary to the view of the Court of First Instance, the provision that had been allegedly infringed by the employer had not been repealed.

The appeal was upheld by the Court of Cassation, which held that it was well-founded, noting that “even after the repeal of Arts. 4 and 38 of Italian Law no. 300/1970, the use of audiovisual systems and other equipment for the remote control of workers’ activities is an offence, since there is legislative continuity between the repealed offence and the one currently provided for by Art. 171 in relation to Art. 114 of Italian Legislative Decree no. 196/2003, as reshaped by Art. 23 of Italian Legislative Decree no. 151/2015, for the new law has kept unaltered the sanctions regime for the infringement of the said Article 4”.

The Supreme Court thus stressed that the sanctions regime for the violation in question had not been repealed; on the contrary, it had been maintained by the Jobs Act. In particular, this regime establishes that any violations of the said Article 4 are punished with a “fine of Italian Lira 300,000 to Italian Lira 3,000,000 or with imprisonment from 15 days to one year”, with joint application “in the most serious cases”, to the employer.

The first instance judgment, with which the employer was acquitted, was thus annulled, and the necessary review by the competent court was ordered.

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