New protocol from Italian institutions to monitor gender equality in the workplace

Thursday 21 September 2023

Andrea Gangemi
Portolano Cavallo, Milan

Tabita Costantino
Portolano Cavallo, Milan

The National Labour Inspectorate (Ispettorato Nazionale del Lavoro or INL) is the Italian government agency that plans and coordinates supervision of employer compliance with labour legislation, social security and insurance contributions at the central and territorial levels. The INL has the power to inspect companies physically and impose sanctions in cases of noncompliance.

The National Equality Counsellor (Consigliera Nazionale di Parità or CNP) holds a public office established specifically to support and oversee the implementation of principles regarding equal opportunity and preventing gender discrimination at work. This individual reports any crimes discovered as part of that work to the judicial authorities.

On 8 June 2023, the INL and the CNP executed a protocol to work together on equal opportunities in employment (the ‘Protocol’). The Protocol requires the INL and the CNP to share with each other any useful information concerning violations that they become aware of in the performance of their respective institutional duties.

Both parties agreed to implement any action useful for supporting equal opportunity and preventing gender discrimination in the workplace. They also agreed to fully support the application of current gender equality and equal opportunity legislation by taking concrete steps to combat gender discrimination, including with reference to the parenting roles of workers of all genders. They will also work to combat and discourage any form of direct or indirect gender discrimination in the workplace with targeted actions within the scope of their respective functions. This may include actions geared toward assessing and sanctioning the exploitation of employees.

With an eye to effective coordination, the parties will seek information on the following:

  • gender imbalances in a company’s employee base;
  • compliance with the requirement for any company with more than 50 employees to draft and submit a report on employee gender equality status pursuant to Article 46 of Legislative Decree No 198/2006;
  • whether companies have complied with requirements to obtain gender-equality certification;[1] and
  • data included in annual reports concerning the reasons for voluntary resignations/mutual termination of employment by working parents, with close reading of the reasons provided by the workers involved and with particular attention paid to those connected to ‘particularly onerous working conditions or those that are difficult to reconcile with childcare needs’.

The parties will share statistical data concerning the measures passed in local areas under their purviews. They will support in-depth analysis and study on the part of their own staff in order to strengthen skills, knowledge and methodologies for intervention and evaluation in the context of anti-discrimination activity, as well as the protection and support of equality and equal opportunity in the workplace. This may include involving representatives of employer associations, trade union organisations, professional orders and other related institutions.

The INL and the National Equality Counsellor shall note and disseminate good practices and national action measures for confirming and implementing equal opportunity principles, as well as monitoring and sharing the results.

The Protocol, which will be in place for five years, is another concrete step toward gender equality in the workplace through support of a balanced work environment in Italy. There is growing pressure for companies to pay attention to these issues in order to promote healthy work environments and avoid violating the law. The relevant bodies appear poised to become increasingly inflexible in the way they monitor these issues.


[1] Andrea Gangemi and Tabita Costantino, ‘Italy: recent legislative steps towards gender equality in the workplace’ (IBA Diversity and Equality Law Committee, September 2022), www.ibanet.org/recent-legislative-steps-gender-equality-italy.