The Ministry of Work adopts employment protection measures due to Covid-19 contention phase and the health emergency declaration. These measures include work from home, telework, flexible working hours, advance, annual and collective vacation, and paid leaves.

El Ministerio de Trabajo adopta medidas de protección al empleo

Today, the Ministry of Work issued the Circular Letter No. 21 adopting employment protection measures due to the contention phase of Covid-19 and the declaration of the health emergency. Through this Circular, the Ministry establishes the following mechanisms: 

1.    Work from home: Since it is an occasional, temporary and exceptional situation, the employer may authorize work from home in any sector of the economy. 

This occasional modality of work is different from telework, and as such does not require the fulfillment of the conditions established for it. For the adoption of this modality an agreement between the employer and the employee must exist. 

2.    Telework: The Ministry of Work sets telework as a valid measure, recalling the legal requirements to be fulfilled to this effect. 

3.    Flexible working hour: The Ministry of Work mentions flexible working hours as well as work shifts as measures to counteract Covid-19, concluding that employers can modify their employees´ working hours with the aim of protecting them by shortening their working days or setting successive work shifts that avoid the agglomeration of employees in the workplace at the same time or within the mass transport system. 

4.    Annual, advance and collective vacation: According to the Ministry, employees and employers can agree at any time the beginning of accumulated, advance or collective vacation to counteract the risk phase of Covid-19. 

For this purpose, the Ministry of Work clarifies the following aspects: 

i.    Vacation may be granted to employees before the right has accrued, which corresponds to advance vacation. 

ii.    Employers can set collective vacation for their employees, even if they have not completed a year of service, in which case the following must be taken into account: 

  • Vacation shall be remunerated to the employee with the salary earned at the beginning of the vacation period;
  • The employee cannot request the assignment of a new vacation period after he/she has completed a year of work. 

iii.    Regarding collective vacation, the employer can notify them in order to offset production or income losses, as situations arising from the health emergency or in case that mandatory isolation measures are ordered by the National Government as a mitigation strategy of Covid-19.

5.    Paid leaves: Pursuant to the provisions of Article 57 of the Labor Code, the employer must grant leaves in case of a serious domestic calamity duly proven. 

5.1.    Salary without service: Pursuant to Article 140 of the Labor Code, during the employment relationship, the employee is entitled to receive his/her salary even though there is no service provision, if this situation is due to the employer´s fault or decision. According to the Ministry, the employer may voluntarily and generously determine the possibility of paying the employee his/her salary, releasing him/her from providing services. 

These measures do not release the employer from complying with its obligations, in particular, the payment of wages, contributions to the Social Security System and all those arising from the employment relationship.

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