ITALY - One of the pivots of Italy’s pension reform, the tax-free perk to keep Italian workers in their jobs longer, has become operative and will be implemented in two weeks.

The pension reform passed by parliament in July is due to be implemented in 2008, except for one measure: the 32.7% tax-free bonus on monthly wages of the employees who reach retirement age but opt to carry on working.

This perk - known as ‘super–bonus’ - become officially operative this week, with the publishing of the reform in official gazette.

Workers can have their quota paid with their monthly salary but there will be no time commitment.

According to the national private sector social security institute, Inps, workers who chose the super-bonus would be able to change their mind.

“If, at any rate, you decide to retire after accepting the_bonus you can still do so renouncing the bonus” states the letter, which Inps is to sent to about 40,000 eligible workers.

Applications to work longer can be presented to employers, who will not be allowed to turn them down, after October 6. The bonus would be paid the month following the application.

The bonus initially includes only private sector employees. Public employees have been excluded “for reasons of compatibility with public finance”.Welfare minister Robero Maroni said they could eventually be included, adding however it would not be next year.

Companies in financial trouble won’t be exempted from paying the super bonus.