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Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure IT-2021-6/1447 – measures in Italy

Merck Serono company agreement on smart working

Merck Serono - Verbale di accordo quadro su lavoro agile

Country Italy , applies locally

    • – ITF47 Bari
      – ITI43 Roma
Time period Temporary, 31 January 2021 – 31 January 2024
Context COVID-19
Type Bipartite collective agreements
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Teleworking arrangements, remote working
Author Anna Mori (University of Milan)
Measure added 23 November 2020 (updated 27 January 2021)

Background information

On 29 October 2020 the pharmaceutical company Merck Serono has negotiated a company agreement, in compliance with the law no. 81/2017 (artt. 18 and following), to introduce the smart working as an ordinary work arrangement to adopt in all its Italian establishment following the termination of the emergency measure adopted at company level to contrast the spread of the COVID-19 infections. The company recognised the advantages of this work arrangement for the wellbeing and the life-work balance of its personnel: the smart working during the pandemic, in fact, turned to be effective and fully compatible with the company productive requirements. Accordingly, Merck Serono established to introduce it as an ordinary work practice.

Content of measure

The company agreement aims to adopt the smart working as a regular form of work organisation in the Italian establishments of the Merck Serono, rather than as a welfare-related arrangement. The main goal is to move towards a new organisational culture in the organisation of work. The smart working applies to the whole workforce, including full-time employees and part-time employees with open-ended and fixed-term contracts, and apprentices, whose job can be performed remotely. The use of the smart working is on voluntary bases and the modalities have to be negotiated with the head of each unit. 30 days of notice are required to recede. The company will provide the necessary equipment to perform the job activity remotely (for instance laptops and ITC equipment). The definition of working hours and hourly flexibility, central for the agreement, is delegated to the collective bargaining at establishment level.

Use of measure

The company agreement applies to the whole workforce of the Merck Serono S.p.A. working in its three Italian establishments based in Roma, Guidonia Montecelio (province of Rome) and Bari. The personnel amount to around 900 employees.


  • Telework

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Applies to all workers Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Trade unions
Employers' organisations
Company / Companies
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: N/A


The company agreement was negotiated on the employer side by the management of the Merck Serono assisted by its sectoral employers’ associations Farmindustria and Unindustria; on the union side by the national union federations of Cgil, Cisl and Uil, together with their company-level representatives. These organisations were entitled to sign company agreements since they are the signatory parties of the sectoral national collective agreement applied by the company Merck Serono in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. They directly participated in the designing phase and they will be involved in the implementation pahse.

Views and reactions

The social partners are fully supportive: the agreement represents an experimental measure that can improve the well-being and the life-work balance of the employees and, at the same time, to ensure adequate productive standards for the company.



Eurofound (2020), Merck Serono company agreement on smart working, measure IT-2021-6/1447 (measures in Italy), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.