Teleworking and Return to Office Developments Discussed on HR Policy Latin America Call

July 09, 2021

HR Policy Global and Baker McKenzie co-hosted a discussion on the newest legislative and regulatory developments in seven major Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela, and shared best practices regarding employee relations during COVID.

Some Latin American countries have their own definitions and regulations on “teleworkers,” who are classified differently than “remote workers.”  Teleworkers typically perform most of their work through information systems, and might be entitled to the right to disconnect, employer-provided work equipment, and reimbursement.  By contrast, “remote workers” and “distant workers” do not predominantly or consistently use technology to perform their jobs. 

Our featured panelists included Baker McKenzie's Alberto Gonzalez Torres (Argentina), Andres Valdes (Chile), Daniela Lievano (Columbia), Carlos Martin del Campo (Mexico), Karen Bustamante (Peru), and Carlos Felce (Venezuela), in addition to Trench Rossi & Watanabe Partner Priscila Kirchhoff (Brazil). 

Some key takeaways for each country: 

  • Argentina:  Employees cannot be required to get vaccinated, but they can be asked to return to work once they are vaccinated.  Furthermore, employers should be cautious about disciplinary actions and termination as it could be associated with workplace discrimination due to COVID. 

  • Brazil:  Companies are allowed to temporarily reduce salary and working hours in order to sustain incomes and preserve employment.

  • Chile:  The Distance Working and Teleworking Law defines “teleworker” as an employee who provides services predominantly using information systems.  “Distance workers” are all other employees who perform their jobs outside the company’s offices.  Teleworkers might be exempt from the working hour limit with an agreement between both parties.  Employers should ensure that both types of employees have the right to disconnect from remote working. 

  • Colombia:  Colombia is one of the few countries that allow the private importation of COVID-19 vaccines.  Therefore, employers can privately negotiate, purchase, and administer vaccines to employees and contractors.  However, employees cannot be required to get vaccinated. 

  • Mexico:  Mexico’s new teleworking regulations define a teleworker as an employee whose remote work constitutes at least 40% of their working hours.  Teleworkers are entitled to work-from-home reimbursement and the right to disconnect. 

  • Peru:  Peru’s government allows its citizens to travel abroad to get vaccinated.  Therefore, employees should be permitted to take paid time off to do so.  Employers also need to be aware that a new telework law will soon be enacted, which will require employers to bear the internet costs for their teleworkers. 

  • Venezuela:  The government is contemplating a new teleworking law as the existing rules do not provide clear guidance for working conditions for teleworkers. 

HR Policy Global will continue to provide labor and employment updates for this important region and facilitate seminars and discussions for our members on emerging issues.