The story “If they don’t popularize smart working, I’ll resign” Paola is a fragile worker, because her return to the office becomes a tragedy. He works five hours a day, six days a week, in a call center far from home

The end of smart working may be near: With the end of the Covid emergency, many employees, especially vulnerable workers, will be forced to return to the office, barring an unexpected extension from the government. The deadline set by the Labor Law is September 30, 2023, but there are also those who disagree with this: “If they do not extend the smart work, I will resign.” It tells the story of Paola, a part-time call center operator who lives and works in a big city. It takes more than two hours to reach the workplace by bus and metro: five hours of travel for five hours of work, which, unfortunately, is a really big problem, considering the poor health.

Smart work: For people ending September 30, 2023

There are two important deadlines to keep in mind for smart working: September 30 and December 31, 2023. The first of these concerns public and private sector employees in fragile conditions and provides for ending the right to agile working and changing the working order with a simplified approach. tasks. In translation, this means that, starting from October 1, workers suffering from pathologies defined by the Ministerial Decree of February 4, 2022 will be able to benefit from smart work only by resorting to individual contracts with the employer, due to the simplified procedure in force until September 30, 2023. .

But the second deadline at the end of the year concerns people at greater risk in case of Covid infection, both in terms of age and the presence of risk conditions due to immunosuppression, the consequences of oncological pathologies or the application of treatments. from life-saving treatments or, in any case, from accompanying diseases. In this case, a certificate from the authorized doctor is required to extend the scope of smart work, as this is an additional protection that only concerns workers in more sensitive conditions. There are also private sector employees with children up to the age of 14, if there is no other parent in the family unit who benefits from the income support tools recognized in the event of suspension or cessation of business activity. Having clarified this, we come to the story of Paola (fictional name).


“We will return in person from October 1”: Sad news after two and a half years of smart work. Paola admitted that she thought: “I can’t do it, I’m quitting.” Why can’t this woman do without working from home? First of all because of a health issue, but also because, as the old adage goes, ‘the game is not worth the risk’.

Paola has a significant health problem, she is a fragile person according to the law, but she has always worked and wants to continue working. She lives in a big city, but the headquarters of the company she works for is more than 30 kilometers away from home, almost an hour’s drive. She has worked remotely so far, but it would be drama for her if she returned to the office. She calculated that she would spend at least 12 euros a day on fuel to get there and back. She works part-time, five hours a day, six days a week, doesn’t get a big salary, so she can’t really afford that amount. He could use public transportation to save money, but in addition to health issues that cannot be ignored, he also has to factor in two and a half hours going and two and a half hours returning since his workplace is right across the street. The farthest point of the neighborhood where he lives. Traveling five hours on bus and subway in exchange for five hours of work? It doesn’t make much sense, especially from a medical point of view, it’s better to leave it alone.

Then fortunately there are reports of an expansion of smart work for the vulnerable thanks to an intra-union agreement, but for how long? What will you do when your company decides to bring all employees back to the office? Paola hopes that sooner or later the government or companies will decide to provide smart work ‘in the office’ to vulnerable workers who want it. She knows very well that not all jobs can be done remotely, but some jobs do not even have ‘contraindications’ in terms of productivity. Like in his case: He needs to answer phone calls to provide customer support. It’s a job that can easily be done from home, and it’s proof “smart” considering it’s perfectly trackable. Paola wants to continue working as she has always done in her life, but she cannot do so under these conditions, and her vulnerability does not disappear with Covid still circulating and the end of smart work. As USB – Basic Union of Trade Unions has emphasized several times, making remote work structural for vulnerable people would be “a norm of civilization in a country that is aging with chronic pathologies and sees the retirement age higher than the European average.”

Smart working reduces CO2 emissions by 1.5 million tonnes

Behind smart working there is not only a (very important) issue of work inclusivity, but also another fundamental aspect that needs to be taken into account: the protection of the environment and health in terms of saving CO2 emissions. If Paola had used the car to commute to the office, she would have released more than 12 kg of CO2 into the environment per day, 288 kg per month, and more than 3,456 kg per year. According to a broader calculation carried out by the smart work observatory of the Milan Polytechnic School of Management, working from home reduces emissions by around 450 kilos per worker per year as a result of three components: reducing travel, thus saving 350 kg of CO2, in offices that have introduced remote working The emissions saved (-400 kilos) are calculated net of the additional emissions caused by working from home (about 300 kilos).

Considering that the number of remote workers today is around 3.6 million, that is, almost 500 thousand fewer than in 2021 (7 million in the middle of the pandemic), the impact at the country system level is estimated to be equal to 1,500,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. An amount equal to the amount absorbed by a forest area 8 times the size of the municipality of Milan. But it is difficult to calculate only vulnerable workers, given that neither INPS, Inail nor Istat provide official data. In any case, in large cities such as Rome and Milan, the impact of smart work on vulnerable populations will certainly be significant, both in terms of CO2 emissions and traffic.

What will happen after September 30?

There will most likely be no extension after September 30, 2023, because the epidemiological picture to date is not alarming. “The number of Covid infections has increased in absolute terms and this was predictable, we are coming from the summer period when people are mobile,” said Health Minister Orazio Schillaci. “There are schools, but there is no cause for alarm: the data that concerns us are hospitalizations and admissions to intensive care, and these are negligible data, and we are sure of that.”

For now, we are only talking about Covid-related smart work for asymptomatic people. The minister is considering how to deal with the coming winter season and is opening up the possibility of encouraging working from home only for Covid-positive people with no symptoms to prevent the spread of the virus, but nothing has been decided yet.

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Source: Today IT