Decree No. 90401 of 8 June 2015 of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies jointly with the Minister of Economy and Finance, published in the Official Gazette No. 189 of 17 August 2015, and subsequently amended and supplemented by inter-ministerial decrees No. 95933 of 23 May 2016 and No. 99295 of 17 May 2017, established the Solidarity Fund for workers of the maritime sector – SOLIMARE. The Fund is an INPS pension scheme, it has no legal status and enjoys financial and equity autonomy (INPS circular No. 173 of 23 November 2017).
All shipowning companies with more than five dependent workers, including maritime transport companies and companies that operate the concession trailer service, are members of the Fund. Companies already obliged to finance other Solidarity Funds as they belong to corporate groups are excluded. With INPS circular No. 28 of 11 February 2016 indications were provided for the identification of the companies that fall within the scope of application of the Fund.
The Fund provides an ordinary allowance in favour of maritime workers and administrative and ground personnel of shipowning companies affected by a decrease in working hours or temporary suspension of work in relation to the reasons provided for by ordinary and extraordinary payment supplements legislation, limited to reasons of corporate reorganisation and company crises, as well as the payment of the contribution related to the relevant mandatory insurance management of each worker.
All maritime workers, administrative personnel and land personnel, including apprentices with a professional apprentice employment contract and managers excluded from shipowning companies that have employed an average of more than five dependent workers in the six months prior to the start date of suspensions or decreases in working time can benefit from the Fund's benefits. Additionally, dependent workers with an apprenticeship contract for professional qualification and diploma, upper secondary education diploma and higher technical specialisation certificate and workers with an apprenticeship contract for higher education and research are excluded.
START DATE AND DURATION
The ordinary allowance can be paid for a maximum duration of no less than one eighth of the total hours that can be worked to be calculated in a two-year rolling period and therefore not exceeding one year.
Specifically, in the event of lodging an appeal regarding the Ordinary Wage Compensation Fund (CIGO) (transitory events and not attributable to the employer or dependent workers, including seasonal inclement weather, as well as temporary market situations), it can be granted up to a maximum period of 13 continuous weeks, which can be extended quarterly up to an overall maximum of 52 weeks in a two-year period.
Employers who made use of the 52 consecutive weeks of ordinary allowance may propose a new claim for the same production unit for which the allowance has been granted, only if a period of at least 52 weeks of normal work has elapsed.
In any case, for reasons of CIGO, ordinary hours of allowance exceeding the limit of one third of the workable hours in the two-year period cannot be authorised, with reference to all workers of the productive unit who are on average employed in the semester preceding the claim.
The ordinary allowance, in the event of an appeal to the Extraordinary Wage Compensation Fund (CIGS) (reorganisation and corporate crisis), can be paid for a maximum of 12 months, even continuous, in a two-year period. For corporate crises, a new application cannot be granted before a period of two-thirds of the previous authorisation has elapsed, again within the maximum limit of 12 months in the two-year period.
For reasons of CIGS for corporate reorganisation and crises, starting from 24 September 2017, suspensions of work can be authorised only up to 80% of the hours that can be worked by the production unit in the time frame of referred to the authorised programme.
The maximum duration of the ordinary allowance, for each production unit, in compliance with the rolling two-year period, cannot exceed a total of 24 months in a rolling five-year period.
WHAT AM I ENTITLED TO?
The amount of the benefit allowance is set at 80% of the overall remuneration that the worker would be entitled to for hours not worked, between zero hours and the limit of contracted working hours. For 2020, the maximum monthly amount of the benefit, payable net of the 5,84% reduction that remains available to the Fund, is equal to €939,89 for salaries equal to or less than €2.159,48 and to €1.129,66 for salaries greater than €2.159,48 (INPS circular No. 20 of 10 February 2020). The amounts are re-assessed annually in accordance with the procedures and criteria in effect for the CIGO.
For periods in which the ordinary allowance is paid, the Fund pays the benefit's corresponding contribution to the employee's pension scheme. The contribution due is used to achieve pension eligibility (including the advance pension) and to determine its amount.
The remuneration value considered for the calculation is equal to the amount of the normal remuneration that the worker would be entitled to in the month the work event takes place. The sums necessary to cover the corresponding contribution are calculated using the funding rate of the dependent workers' pension scheme in force at the time and are paid by the Fund for each quarter within the following quarter.
The Fund operates in accordance with the balanced budget principle and cannot make payments if it has no financial resources. Payments borne by the Fund are granted following the creation of specific financial reserves and within the limits of the resources already acquired.
To finance the benefits, an ordinary monthly contribution of 0.30% is due to the Fund (of which 0.20% is paid by the employer and 0.10% payable by the workers), calculated on the taxable payment for purposes of social security of all maritime workers embarked on ships flying the Italian flag and of all the remaining personnel employed by the shipping companies for which there is the obligation to pay contributions to INPS. In the event of making use of the ordinary allowance an additional contribution of 1.5% is also due to the Fund, calculated on the taxable salaries for social security purposes lost by workers receiving benefits.
The same provisions in force concerning CIGO apply to the benefits guaranteed by the Fund in terms of payments and reimbursement of benefits. Therefore payment is made by the employer, to entitled dependent workers, at the end of each pay period and reimbursed by INPS to the employer or adjusted by the latter, on the basis of the regulations for the balance between contributions due and benefits paid, within six months of the end of the pay period underway at the end of the term or duration of the authorisation, if subsequent to the pay period in progress at the expiry of the term of the concession.
With INPS circular No. 170 of 15 November 2017 instructions were provided for the adjustment of payment supplement benefits and for the payment of the additional contribution from Solidarity Funds.
Direct payments can only be made in cases of serious and proven financial difficulties of the employer.
During the period that the ordinary allowance is received, the Family Allowance (ANF) cannot be claimed, as it is not provided for by the decree establishing the Fund.
Access to the benefit is based on criteria of precedence and rotation and in compliance with the principle of proportionality of payments in respect of contributions paid.
New claims for access by the employer may be examined subject to the acceptance of any claims by other employers with a priority status.
WHEN CAN I CLAIM?
Claims to access the ordinary allowance, regardless of the reason given, must be submitted by the company no sooner than 30 days before and no later than 15 days from the start of the suspension or decrease of work. Failure to respect the time limits does not lead to the loss of eligibility for the benefit, but, in the event of submission before 30 days, the claim is not admissible, and if submitted after 15 days, there may be a delay in the benefit taking effect. In the event of late submission, any income support payments cannot have been made for periods within one week prior to the submission date (namely, from Monday of the previous week).
HOW CAN I CLAIM?
The claim to INPS must be submitted on-line using the dedicated service (message No. 981 of 2 March 2016).
The shipping company that intends to make use of the ordinary allowance is required to notify the employers' associations and the relevant national and regional secretariats, as well as, where existing, the trade union representatives of the signatory institutions of the agreement of 24 March 2014. It is therefore necessary, at the time of submitting the claim, to notify compliance with the duties of information and consultation of the trade unions mentioned above, attaching to the application the preventive notices and the relevant receipts of registered letters with acknowledgement of receipt or certified emails (PEC) sent to the trade unions mentioned above.
The claim must be submitted by the Production Unit. For purposes of governing the benefits of the SOLIMARE Fund, the Production Unit may be identified with the ship, if the latter jointly presents the characteristics of organisational or technical functional autonomy, performance on board of a production cycle or a stage of it and assignment of a crew on an ongoing basis (INPS circular Mo. 155 of 19 May 1994).
The granting of interventions is ordered by the Fund's Administrative Committee in accordance with a resolution.