Due to the Covid-19 emergency, the fields have been left without labourers and the crops are at risk. At the same time, there are about 600 thousand irregulars in Italy which represent the fundamental source to allow agriculture to resist the economic crisis and the closures imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. For this reason, among the Italian Ministries of Agriculture, Labour, Interior, Economy and Justice circulates a draft law in 18 articles providing for a “regularization” of irregular immigrant workers through a “declaration of the emergence of employment relations”.

The draft law provides for the possibility of hiring irregular foreign citizens already present on the Italian territory, with the stipulation of a fixed-term employment contract and the related legal residence permit.

Under Article 1 it is explained that, in order to make up for the shortage of workers in the agriculture, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture sectors, anyone wishing to enter into an employment contract with foreign nationals present in the national territory under irregular conditions may apply to the Single Immigration Desk in order to obtain the necessary authorization to work. The contract, not exceeding one year of validity, generates, after a series of bureaucratic checks, a residence permit, which can be renewed through new employment relationships.
However, there are limitations both on the side of the employer and of the employee. Under article 5, the request can be rejected if the employer has been convicted, among others, for aiding and abetting illegal immigration, illegal intermediation and labour exploitation in the last 5 years. On the other hand, the request cannot be presented for a foreign national in respect of which an expulsion order has been issued or has been reported, on the basis of international agreements or conventions in force for Italy, for the purposes of non-admission to the territory of the State.

Even if it is not yet confirmed whether the text to be submitted to the Council of Ministers will take up the contents and the 18-subparagraph structure of the draft in circulation, in any case it is a strong indication of the fact that in the next few months – most probably when the phase 2 of the Covid-19 emergency will initiate – a legislative solution will be adopted in order to front the economic crisis and the lack of manpower that many sectors are experiencing. In fact, according to what has been reported by the different trade associations, there is a shortage of seasonal labour workforce between 270 and 350 thousand people.