A company in Italy has decided to offer workers who have refused to take a Covid vaccine six months’ paid leave.
The move by Italian high-end design firm Brunello Cucinelli is designed to protect workers who have been vaccinated.
Chief executive and founder of the firm, also called Brunello Cucinelli, said last week that only a tiny proportion of his company’s 1,200 staff (1%) had opted not to be vaccinated when the company ran a campaign last month.
He told La Repubblica and La Stampa news outlets: “Clearly within the company their identity became known straight away. Now, as it’s only logic, the [employees] who used to work at the same table don’t want to be near those who have chosen not to get vaccinated.”
One of Italy’s leading business organisations, Confindustria, has called for jabs to be made mandatory in the workplace, but the Italian legislature is said to be very unlikely to ever rubber stamp such a proposal.
However, vaccination is already mandatory for health workers, and the government led by Mario Draghi is discussing whether school employees should also be subject to the law.
Cucinelli, however, has taken a more generous route, hoping to retain vaccine refusers, giving them time to think about their stance, and to protect staff. He said: “My proposal for them is to stay home with six months’ paid leave and then we’ll see,” he said. “I can’t impose the vaccine, but I can’t put at risk those who decided to get vaccinated either.”
According to Reuters, the Cucinelli firm, which is famous for $1,000-plus cashmere sweaters, maintains a “humanistic” approach to capitalism, based around respect for people and nature.
In the medieval village of Solomeo, near Perugia in central Italy where Cucinelli has its HQ, the company has planted vineyards, repaved roads, built a theatre and founded an arts and crafts school.
Although about 53% of Italy’s population has been vaccinated as of 24 July, the country is seeing an increase in coronavirus infections because of the arrival of the delta variant. There was also a surge in the immediate aftermath of people celebrating its football team’s victory in the Euros against England at Wembley on 11 July.
From 6 August, will make entry to stadiums, museums, theatres, cinemas, exhibition centres, swimming pools and gyms dependent on the presentation of a “green pass” – proof that the holder has had at least one dose of Covid vaccine.
The pass, which is an extension of the EU’s digital Covid certificate, will also be required in order to be served indoors at restaurants.