Sunday, March 16, 2008

More bureaucracy is never a good "solution"

In the Italian workplace, there is an ugly phenomenon known as "licenziamento in bianco", essentially your employer hands you, the employee, a resignation letter and forces you to sign and date it- thus firing yourself. This is a sneaky way for employers to:
  1. get around the fairly strict regulations against firing someone without a valid reason
  2. get rid of anyone who might be a rabble-rouser or a unionist
  3. avoid paying employee benefits & contributions
Needless to say, it is highly illegal, yet it does happen, apparently rather often... because a law has recently been passed to hinder this practice.
What is this magical law, you ask? WELL.... law # 1695 states that if an employee wishes to quit their job, they must first go to the Ministero del Lavoro and request permission to quit. Yeah, they say you can download the necessary "I want to quit" form online (in my experience, very few Italian public office websites actually work!), fill it out, bring it to the Ministero, and then wait for them to contact you and give you authorization to quit. At that point, you can go to your boss with your resignation letter and say "I quit".
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy the government has addressed this hideous practice of forced resignation BUT gimme a break- is adding more bureaucracy to our lives actually a solution??? Or is it just another pain in the ass that will slow down the entire flow of things? Last summer I quit a job and the thought of having to go through all this ridiculous paperwork is almost enough to make me suck it up and stay at a bad job! And we all know how notoriously slow most of the public offices are, so I can't imagine that this "authorization to quit" would actually be processed in 15 days, as they claim.
Argh, there has got to be a better solution, don't you think?


Delina said...

I don't understand how an employer can "force" you into resigning. I suppose they bully you into doing it some way. Not a nice situation to be in.

Italians seem to just love bureaucracy, they can't get enough of it it seems.

Romerican said...

well... sometimes they force you to sign an undated resignation letter when they hire you- so basically they'll only give you the job if they know they'll be able to get rid of you easily. Lots of desperate people sign because they figure it's better to earn money for a short time than not have a job at all! Personally, I think people need to start standing up for their rights.

Anonymous said...

So what happens to you if you don't fill out the necessary "paperwork?" Do they force you to go in to your crappy job?

I don't think I'd last a week there. I'm too much of an rebel rouser. Paperwork smaperwork.

Kataroma said...

I agree - why do Italians love bureaucracy so much and find a bureaucratic solution to everything? I had my wallet stolen on the weekend so now I"m going through the process of getting all my cards replaced and it's just such a pain in the neck. Everything seems to involve at least 2 trips to the government office and about 10 forms.

I also can't imagine an employer forcing someone to quit. Just say no! It's like "mobbing" (with its deceptively English sounding title). I'd never heard of it til I moved here but here apparently it's a bit issue here. I guess since it's so hard to fire someone you just "mob" them and hope they'll quit instead. Having spent quite a bit of time dealing with incompetent govt bureaucrats lately I can't help sympathising with the mobbers sometimes. :)

Brendan said...

I know a few people in Italy who have been "fired" in the white under awful circumstances. They turn up to work and find that their workstation is not there any more. They ask the manager what is going on, and they get a vague shrug. the co-workers are coerced into cooperating as well and they all ignore you. The manager then asks you to complete a task, and when you say that you do not have a desk they tell you that you can sit on the floor in the hallway near the toilet. When you finally complain that it is unbearable, they tell you that there have been budget cuts, and the "slip" is waiting for you along with an offer of two weeks worth of hush money. Your so demoralized at that point that you just sign and accept it. Sadly, I know at least 3 people who "lost" their jobs under those circumstances. I guess that it would be considered a form of mobbing?