Social Innovation Stories


Creating safety nets for agency workers in Covid-19 crisis

Italy was one of the European countries that was the hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis. Assolavoro, the national federation for private employment services agencies, together with trade unions, implemented a series of measures and tools aimed at ensuring continuity of income and contributions to agency workers and, at the same time, extended the benefits payable to workers.

  • #Social Dialogue

  • #Social Protection

  • #Skills

  • #Working conditions

  • #Covid19

The challenge

Italy was one of the European countries that was the hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis. Agency work declined by 14% between March and August 2020. As the lockdown was decided early March, measures were quickly needed to provide agency workers with continuity of income as well as with a range of services and tools that could mitigate the difficulties and disruptions in daily life caused by the crisis.


Assolavoro, the national federation for private employment services agencies, and the trade unions for agency workers, agreed to use their bipartite fund as a solidarity mechanism to lend financial resources to guarantee the normal payment of salaries for all employees at the due dates, while waiting for the funding to be provided by the Italian Government.

At the beginning of March 2020 the first agreement for workers in risk areas was signed, with the activation of the first social security cushions. With the worsening of the pandemic, the Fund was refinanced and continued its work, providing 100% of the payments without any delay - the only such case in Italy. The disbursement of social shock absorbers linked to the Covid emergency during the first 10 months of the year was worth 310 million euro.

Both parties also concluded a number of agreements to extend the services and social protection benefits provided to agency workers by the bipartite fund in this period of crisis. Focus was put on mitigating the discomforts and difficulties, especially in the areas most affected by the pandemic: health, work, training and social distancing.

The new benefits relate to the following areas

  • Health protection: a per diem for each day of hospital admissions for Covid-19, a per diem for each day of Home isolation allowance for Covid-19 and a contribution for respiratory rehabilitation for Covid-19;
  • Babysitting: reimbursement of expenses;
  • Family workers: a reimbursement of expenses is provided to support the costs of home care for the elderly, sick or disabled people;
  • Deaths: A donation is provided for the family heirs of agency workers, who died of Covid-19.

With another agreement signed with the trade unions, the range of services was further extended, including:

  • Contribution for the purchase of computer equipment for distance learning and smart-working;
  • Supplementary contribution of the public contribution for parental leave
  • Temporary extension of the benefit "Contribution for Nursery School" for the period from June 15, 2020 to August 31, 2020

In addition to implementing support initiatives aimed at workers and companies, the sector donated 400,000 euros to the Civil Protection to combat the health emergency.

Key numbers



workers benefitting from continued payment of salary in March-April

More than


million € of social security cushion disbursed


million € budget allocated for social protection benefits


More than 100,000 workers got their full salaries paid through the Solidarity Fund. About 310 million Euros of social security cushion have been disbursed in the first 10 months of 2020 in favor of agency workers, without any delay (unlike workers directly employed) and thanks to the direct intervention of the agencies that have advanced and transferred the sums to the workers.

Through the specific measures implemented to support the welfare of workers during the Covid crisis, 1,5 million euros was allocated in various fields: health protection, baby sitting, family assistance, contribution for parental leave, contribution for the purchase of computer equipment related to remote working and distance learning.

With the money donated to the Civil Protection, two lung ventilators and over 300,000 masks could be purchased.

Country/ies of implementation