[Continues from previous post].
“Don’t worry, it can all be done via internet. It takes no more than 10-15 minutes…”
These reassuring words convinced me that perhaps my ancestral fears about INPS were old-fashioned, and that perhaps INPS has modernized itself while I was out of Italy...
And in fact the first impact with the INPS webpage has been quite positive: I could find relatively easily the link to ‘household staff’, and, although in an elaborated administrative language, plenty of information on how to hire a household staff, how to draw up a contract, how to pay his/her social security contributions, etc. etc.
I then discovered that the first step to hire a household staff is to get a PIN (Personal Identification Number). I thus called the INPS Call Center, as it seemed they could have provided me this magic number. But I then discovered that as of 30 September the Call Center was not authorized anymore to release PINs, and that I had to submit my request online.
A bit annoyed by the fact that things were getting longer than the 10-15 minutes that Jamie foresaw, but still full of trust and optimism, I duly completed my request for a PIN online and submitted it. Within half-hour, I received on my mobile an SMS with half-PIN (!) and a text saying that I would have received the other half of the PIN at home by mail.
Now I got a bit more annoyed. Ok all the security measures to avoid that your personal PIN is counterfeit (even though I wonder who on earth wants to steal a PIN that is meant to pay taxes!), but in a computerized world why to use the mail service that is (1) more expensive, (2) more unreliable, and (3) it takes more time, and not to send the second half of the PIN via email to your personal email account. Mysteries of the Italian public administration…
Anyway, I waited a few days, and still I hadn’t received my PIN by mail. Of course my level of annoyance was increasing (“it takes no more than 10-15 minutes”… yeah, certainly!), but still I was pervaded by a general sense of optimism (it’s not possible that my PIN got lost, it’s just the usual delay of a malfunctioning mail service… inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale…). Until when, one day, Mathilde called me in the office saying that someone from INPS had called at home. And when I asked her if she gave this person my office telephone number, she told me that this person told her that they were authorized to call only the telephone number that I inserted in my online application, and that they could not receive information from anyone else than the submitter. Ok, stupid me who inserted the home instead of the office telephone number in the application form (but still they should have my mobile n. as the first part of the PIN was sent to my mobile), but, hell, what’s all this secrecy??? For a PIN that I need to pay taxes, not for the PIN of my credit card!!!
Anyway, from that moment it started my battle with INPS: hundreds of telephone calls asking, explaining, following-up; hours spent on hold waiting an operator to be available; dozens of emails hoping that those that respond to emails are a bit more competent than those that respond at the phone… (ps: normally the answer to my emails is to call the number I have been calling for weeks…)
I made my initial request on October 24th, and as of today I have not yet received the second half of the PIN (it should have taken no more than…). Meanwhile Claudia has started working for us, and I promised her that as soon as her position will be regularized, I will pay the contributions for the period she worked without a contract as well.
But at the same time I started feeling a certain sympathy for those that pay their staff in black. Certainly for many, probably the majority, this is a system to avoid paying taxes - and as such this behaviour should be condemned. But for some this may simply be the result of the frustration, the costs, or the barriers to actually comply with the rules…