The proposal of Minister Brunetta to provide for the gradual return in the presence of the employees of the Public Administration, with the aim of reducing to 15% the activity from home arrived like a match in a powder keg. The issue of smart working in the PA, in fact, had already been very hot for some time: in fact, remote working up to now has lived under emergency rules and without any real specific legislation. Among other things, that of the Public Administration is a varied world with substantial diversity: during the pandemic there were sectors (health and transport above all) that were unable to adopt smart working, others (especially education and ministries) that made massive use of remote work.
Let’s start with the overall value of the entire PA: based on the analyzes prepared by the Foundation for Labor Consultants on the basis of the data provided by the State Accounting Office and the Formez – Monitoring Report on the implementation of agile work in the PA, in March 2020, on 3.2 million public employees, 1.8 million were in smart working (56.6%). In March 2020, however, we were at the height of the crisis; in September, on the other hand, a good part of public employees had returned to the presence and less than half (46.2% for a total of 1.5 million) continued to work remotely. Since then, the percentages have not changed much and the most recent existing data shows that in May 2021, the share of public employees in smart working was 37.5%, equal to a total of 1.2 million workers. While waiting for indications on the 15% share indicated by Minister Brunetta (it could refer to workers or to working time) and assuming that it refers to the number of workers involved, it means that smart working in the public would be allowed in all to 500 thousand employees.
Ministries and Universities
Figures far removed from those seen so far. For example, in the central functions (Ministries, tax agencies) and in the education sector (Universities, research and schools), both during the emergency and in the following months (in September 2020), 71.1% were using smart working. of central PA staff and 69.4% of teachers and academics: in practice seven out of ten. In local administrations (regions, metropolitan areas, municipalities), the share of remote employees has always been lower (46.5% during the first lock down and 30.9% in September 2020). The health sector deserves a separate discussion, where only 8.3% of public employees, during the peak of the emergency, worked from home. Obvious consequence of the frenzied pace kept in hospitals due to the high number of hospitalized. Beyond what will be the indications of the Ministry, it seems undoubted that if on the one hand, agile work will have to be brought back into the percentages of physiological functionality, on the other hand the innovation introduced by the new model, will have to be supported by a new organization and governed by new rules.
We need new rules
The experience gained in the emergency period that suddenly forced a very large number of workers to work from home must be used to improve the tool and make it an alternative way of working – comments Rosario De Luca, president of the Foundation for Labor Consultants -. Certainly, a regulatory intervention is necessary to better regulate the different rights and duties of both parties to the relationship, such as the right to disconnect, availability or remote control. In short, smart working must be well structured in order to make it become an opportunity for the future that certainly cannot be the only way in which work is carried out.