Reform of work in sports sector: the INPS issues its operational guidelines

23 November 2023

The Italian National Social Security Entity (Istituto nazionale della previdenza sociale, ‘INPS’), with circular no. 88/2023, provided guidance for the management of social security obligations related to the new regulations concerning amateur and professional workers in the sports sector, which came into effect on 1 July 2023.

Reference legislation

Italian Legislative Decree of 28 February 2021, no. 36, as amended by Italian Legislative Decree of 5 October 2022, no. 163, and by the Italian Decree-Law of 29 December 2022, no. 198 (the so-called “Milleproroghe Decree”), and most recently amended by Italian Legislative Decree of 29 August 2023, no. 120, (also called “Corrective bis”), implemented Italian Law of 8 August 2019, no. 86, containing “Delegations to the Government and other provisions on sports law, sports professions and simplification”.

The main guiding criteria listed in the enacting law include:

  • recognising the principle of the specific nature of sports and the sports employment relationship;
  • promoting the principle of equal opportunities in sports practice and access to work in the professional and amateur sports sectors;
  • recognising the social and preventive health character of sports, to improve the quality of life and health, as a means of education and social development;
  • identifying “the sports worker”, without distinction of gender and regardless of the nature of the sport, whether professional or amateur;
  • establishing an insurance, social security and taxation framework for sports;
  • regulating administrative collaboration relationships of a non-professional nature for work provided to amateur sports clubs and associations (considering the specific characteristics of the same and the fact that they are not for profit organisations);
  • ensuring the protection of the health and safety of minors.

INPS clarification on applicable contribution regimes

The INPS, therefore, in its circular summarised the main contents of the enabling law for the reform of sport, paying particular attention to the definition of sports workers and the contribution regime applied to each category of them.

With this reform of work in the sports sector, the social security and contribution regimes to be applied to the sports employment relationship have been set out, which depend mainly on the type of contract with which the same employment relationship is regulated, whether they are professional and amateur employees, self-employed, professional coordinated and continuous collaborations, or self-employed, amateur coordinated and continuous collaborations and administrative-management coordinated and continuous collaborations.

One of the key objectives of the reform of employment law in the sports sector, therefore, concerned the elimination of the existing gap between the protections provided for “professional” sports workers compared to those provided for workers belonging to the amateur sector. For this purpose, in fact, specific protections have been granted to the latter in terms of social security, welfare and insurance.

The circular specified that, in addition, under Article 35, paragraph 1, of Italian Legislative Decree no. 36/2021, the following categories of workers must be enrolled in the Sports Workers’ Pension Fund (Fondo Pensione dei Lavoratori Sportivi or “FPSP”) (i.e. the “old” Professional Sports Pension Fund):

  • employed workers, regardless of whether they are in the professional or amateur sector;
  • self-employed workers, also in the form of coordinated and continuous collaborations, in the professional sector.

The extension of the social security system to the amateur sector

Therefore, because of this provision, from 1 July 2023 the regulations on social security matters referred to in Italian Legislative Decree of 30 April 1997, no. 166, which already apply to the professional sector, are extended to workers in the amateur sector and enrolled in the FPSP. In this case, the contributions will be due based on the actual salary received and in compliance with the minimum contribution and the INPS ceiling if applicable.

It is also provided that the same protections in the field of (i) financial sickness insurance and (ii) financial maternity insurance apply to employees in the sports sector enrolled in the Pension Fund, regardless of their professional qualification.

As for the remaining group of sports workers, i.e., coordinated and self-employed collaborators in the amateur sector, as of 1 July 2023, it is envisaged that the principals will be obliged to contribute to the separate INPS national insurance and pension scheme and will therefore also have to provide the consequent individual Uniemens reports, according to codes and methods established by the same circular.

Lastly, it should be noted that regarding coordinated and continuous collaborators, the ordinary allocation of the contribution burden applies, i.e., 2/3 borne by the principal and 1/3 borne by the collaborator.

In contrast, for self-employed workers, it is possible to charge 4% to the same principal.

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