COVID-19 - Employment/Labor: practical issues

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COVID-19 - Employment/Labor: practical issues

 What restrictions do laws of your jurisdiction place on an employer that wants to require employees to work remotely or from home during the Covid-19 outbreak?

 There are no legal restrictions. As a matter of fact, emergency resolutions issued as a consequence of the outbreak encourage all employers to adopt temporary home office schemes as far as possible. The implementation of these schemes shall not, in principle, lead to salary reductions for employees.

 Within the home office work scheme, employers are only required to provide notice to the their occupational hazard risk insurance companies of the employees assigned to this scheme, their domiciles and their expected working hours.

 

May employers in your jurisdiction require employees to use their vacation time during a Covid-19 outbreak?

Yes, provided that the offer is accepted by the employees in which case they can use their vacation time immediately.

If the employer mandates use of vacation time in a unilateral manner, it must notify each employee of the date on which the vacation will commence, at least 45 days in advance. The general rule is that this vacation assignment can only be made for employees to enjoy their vacation in the period between   October 1 and April 30.

 

Are there any restrictions on putting employees on unpaid leave for limited periods of time during the Covid-19 outbreak?

Suspending employment contracts without pay is difficult under Argentinian law. Generally, doing so would require either: 

·         Agreement with the employee unions based on financial crisis grounds or force majeure – These agreements must be approved by the Secretariat of Labor, and may not exceed 75 days in a given year. They are also limited to a minor percentage of the payroll (between 5 and 15% depending on the number of employees) and during the suspension, a negotiated amount with non-salary nature is usually paid.

 

·         Use of the Crisis Prevention Procedure – There are no restrictions on the percentage of suspensions (or possibly dismissals with the payment of reduced compensation) that an employer may carry out but  this kind of procedure requires a complex process and is rarely authorized by the Secretariat of Labor. Furthermore, a procedure approved by the Secretariat of Labor does not guarantee the absence of subsequent judicial claims by affected employees.


Are there any other key considerations for foreign companies operating in your jurisdiction relating to Covid-19?

Since the outbreak started, several emergency regulations were issued by the Executive Branch establishing (i) exemptions to employees in at-risk groups (over 60 years old, pregnant or immunosuppressed) from performing tasks on the employer's premises; (ii) special leave for employees who must care for their children due to the nationally imposed school suspension; and (iii) mandatory exemption from performing tasks during 14 days to employees who have re-entered the country from other countries considered at high risk of contagion (currently China, Japan, South Korea, USA, Brazil, Chile, China, Iran and all of Europe) or have had close contact with probably infected persons.