Italian Prime Minister’s Decree of 22/03/2020: Obligations relating to the continuation of essential production activities - Possible continuation of the ordinary production


The Italian Prime Minister’s Decree of 22/03/2020 identifies the industrial and commercial production activities that are not vital in the context of the Corona crisis and defines the activities that remain AUTHORIZED. The authorized activities are, however, consistently declared NECESSARY and ESSENTIAL in order not to interrupt the essential production chains (such as agriculture, health, transport, etc.) in case of emergency and to ensure effective management of the health crisis. The obligation to "stay at home" can only be implemented if food supplies are secured.

If we continue to think logically in terms of the requirements set out above, maintaining the necessary production is also OBLIGATORY, so that in the event of an unacceptable suspension of activity, recourse would have to be made to FORCED RECRUITMENT, as already happened in recent days with regard to fuel distribution.

The COMMITMENT to continue production in the authorized activities must, of course, be in accordance with the preventive and sanitary health measures already in force and within the framework of principle of risk minimization for safety at work.

From a more complex interpretation and implementation perspective, it should be recalled that the protection of production and the economic system is part of the public interest and includes rights and obligations guaranteed by the Constitution. Therefore, even in this current crisis, companies remain obliged to act in the interest of the continuation of the company's business activities and to act in the perspective of a duty to compensate for damages in relation to their own and external economic activities; damages that can inevitably generate domino effects that are difficult to predict and manage in the current situation.

In application of this, and also in view of the practical and technical difficulties that must be taken into account, it can be assumed that if a company has to continue its activity, even partially, in order to guarantee authorized/obligatory production, all the slots can be used for the remaining - non-compulsory - production, provided that this does not lead to greater health risks for the other activities.

One need only think of the role of workers in the company, whose activity is only used for a certain part of their working time for the authorized production. It seems unreasonable that such workers, although they must remain in the company at full salary, should not be allowed to devote themselves to other useful tasks for production during their working hours - always, of course, in compliance with preventive measures. Among other things, the mere presence of workers in the company without a task assigned to them is in itself a risk factor.

Just as an example, in the field of heat treatment, it is not clear why furnaces should only be partially fired in order to carry out only the authorized/obligatory activities, when, if fired completely without additional risk to the workforce, the rest of the production - i.e. not only the authorized production - can also be carried out. In this case, partial firing would result in a completely unnecessary DAMAGE to the operation; damage that the representatives of the company are legally obliged to prevent.

In any case, a strict application of the principle of prudence is recommended, as well as a careful assessment of the actual extent of the risk, taking into account and weighing the obvious precedence of the right to life and health over any other legal interest.

If you have any further questions, we will be happy to advise and support you.

Roberto Sammarchi

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