At INPS, the ministries of Economics and Labor and Palazzo Chigi, the concern about the explosion of layoff costs is growing day by day. We are talking about the most well-known and widespread social safety net, the one that ensures workers in crisis companies an allowance that can reach 1200-1300 euros per month at best, and which is paid in part by general taxation and in part by companies, with a levy linked to the salary of their employees.
As you know, this social safety net does not cover all production sectors and all types of companies, so much so that at the beginning of the coronavirus emergency the government had to “invent” the Covid layoffs (from 940 euros per month) to give a support network to all workers of all companies, including those not guaranteed by the classic Cig.
From what has been seen in these months of emergency, the majority of companies have tried to resort to Cig Covid, which does not cost the employer one euro. And even the most important companies in full-blown industrial crisis (one example above all, the ex-Ilva steelworks now ArcelorMittal in Taranto) have abandoned the traditional layoffs to use the Covid CIG. In addition, they explain in the corridors of the ministries, it is now quite clear that despite the rhetoric of “everything will be fine”, many smaller employers, especially in services, given the general crisis and since it was easy, they chose the most convenient way: ask for Covid layoffs for their employees, guarantee them an additional sum in the black, and let them work from home. Result, a very high outlay for the state coffers, as the numbers show.
First number, the cost. According to insiders’ calculations, each month more than Cig Covid-19 costs up to 5 billion euros. All money that increases the public deficit, and that within four months could drain the margins of flexibility in the public accounts so painstakingly negotiated by the Conte government with Brussels. A frightening figure, which not by chance has set in motion the reflection of Palazzo Chigi on the possibility of guaranteeing substantial bonuses to employers who will renounce to put their staff in the layoffs.
Second issue, the boom in the use of the Cig. In May 2019, a little more than 9 million Cig hours had been requested and authorized by INPS; in May of this year (the month in which some activities had already been restarted), there were even 849.2 million hours of layoffs with the Covid 19 reason. There were 832.4 million in April. In just two months, in practice, it exceeded 1.68 billion hours, which is an absolute record for layoffs.
There is no escape: if it is true that a social safety net (possibly unique) capable of guaranteeing companies and workers from temporary crisis situations and avoiding layoffs is indispensable, it is also true that this instrument must be financed in some way, as well as from the state coffers or from European funds, even by those who benefit from it.