In recent years, Italy has witnessed an evolution in worker protection, whose right to safety in the workplace is now enshrined by law. Nevertheless, the percentage of injuries at work shows no sign of abating, and thus safety in the workplace is a topic more relevant than ever.
An injury at work is an event that occurs while a work activity is taking place, or while one is commuting to or from work. As a result, the employee is temporarily or indefinitely unable to return to work. As studies suggest, the number of serious accidents at work are consistently high, and above all during times of adaptations to safety standards.
To protect the worker by ensuring that proper compensation is given, the Italian State has mandated obligatory insurance coverage for employees.
The notion of "safety at work" was included in law in 1965 through the Presidential Decree of June 30 n. 1124; "Consolidated text of the provisions for mandatory insurance against accidents at work and occupational diseases".
Five years later, in Law n. 300 of May 20, 1970, better known as the "Workers' Statute" or "Regulations on the protection of the freedom and dignity of workers, trade union freedom and trade union activity in the workplace and employment regulations", was indoctrinated. The Consolidated Law on Safety at Work has been in force since 2008 (Legislative Decree April 9, 2008 No. 81).
If an employee is injured at work or contracts an occupational disease, during the successive period of time off the INAIL (the National Institute for Accidental Insurance at Work) guarantees an indemnity payment .
Compensation for work injuries
The indemnity that is due to the worker is paid by the employer and the INAIL, and is divided as follows:
- the day in which the accident occurs, the employee will be paid for the entire day by the employer;
- the following three days, called the "waiting period", are paid in full by the employer;
- from the fourth day onwards, and for the entire period of absence, the INAIL will provide compensation;
- from the fourth to the ninetieth day, the compensation paid by the INAIL will correspond to 60% of the daily wage calculated on the basis of the average daily salary of the employee;
- after 91 days, and until the return to work after the accident, the compensation will be 75% of the average daily salary. This means that the compensation period has no time limit.
The employee's company also contributes based on the provisions of the contract signed by the worker.
Right to job retention
An employee who has been a victim of an accident at work is normally entitled to 180 days off per annum.
If the time off exceeds 180 days, the employer can proceed with dismissal. In this case, compensation must be paid in lieu of notice.
The right to job retention may vary according to the national collective bargaining agreement.
Procedure to follow when reporting work injuries
The accident must be immediately reported by the employee to their company: if the employer is not aware of the specifics of the injury, he cannot inform the INAIL and the worker will lose INAIL benefits for the number of undeclared days.
A medical examination is also fundamental to assess the extent of the injuries and to produce a medical certificate which is required to include in the incident report. The same hospital that provides medical attention is also required to send a copy of the certificate to the INAIL electronically.
This report to the INAIL must be presented in different ways if the prognosis period exceeds three days. The company has two days from the moment it becomes aware of the injury to notify the INAIL (unless there is mortal danger to the life for the employee, or if they have already died, in which case the times are halved).
For injuries lasting over three days, the INAIL must also be informed of the worker's salary parameters.
If the accident causes the death of the worker or if the prognosis exceeds thirty days, the public security authorities must be informed within 24 hours.
Medical expenses reimbursable in the event of work injuries
In the event of an accident at work, medical expenses are charged to the INAIL, which will reimburse or support them, subject to authorization by the Institute itself. In this case it is up to the worker, and not the company, to present a specific request.
Unnecessary tax visits
Unlike the practices for sick-leave forwarded to INPS (The National Institute of Social Security) which are subject to visits at home, INAIL does not need to assess the conditions during the recovery period after an accident. This is because the INAIL immediately makes its own diagnosis and establishes the time required for recovery.
Among other things, compensation cannot be combined with other indemnities already received by the INPS (maternity, redundancy fund, sickness, etc.).
Differences between occupational diseases and occupational accidents
Even if the consequences of work injuries and occupational diseases are similarly grave, the way in which they are handled differs.
Occupational diseases are gradual events, a contracted disturbance while working and because of work, while an injury is a sudden event that has a clear moment in which it occurs.
Who is covered by insurance against work injuries and occupational diseases
Not only are employees entitled to reap the benefits of insurance coverage, but also:
- Commercial agents;
- Those held in institutions, rehabilitation centers and prisons;
- Members of a ship's crew;
- Family members of the employer who provides manual work, even if free of charge, or who resides on the premises where the work takes place;
- Members of cooperatives and any other type of company, who provides manual work;
In schools, in training institutions or during professional retraining:
- Laboratory technicians
In hospital/care institution:
- Those hospitalized in nursing homes, hospices, hospitals, care or charity institutions
Types of accidents at work covered by insurance
The types of accidents covered by insurance are:
- traumatic events that impact the health of the worker or lead to their death, provided that there is a connection between the two and which results in an incapacity to work for more than 3 days;
- an event which incurs a series of psychophysical reactions which take place in conditions of particular stress or fatigue.
- an ongoing incident.
The help of a lawyer in the event of a work injury
The compensation for biological damage from the INAIL, and therefore the insurance stipulated in favor of the worker, does not cover any damages that the victim may suffer outside the limitations of what they define as "biological damages".
The sentences tend to accept the admissibility of compensation for the "differential damage" (i.e. that which covers the difference between the amount paid by INAIL and the sum actually due according to the civil liability model).
The worker should be granted full compensation for any damages suffered.
In the case of disabilities or injuries that are not considered totally debilitating, the INAIL pays a lump sum that compensates for both biological and financial damages resulting from the incapacity to work and bring in an income.
Often this figure does not correspond to the correct compensation for all damages suffered, which is why the assistance of a lawyer can allow the victim to obtain what is due to them.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.