COVID-19 and Strategic Sectors

On March 16, 2020, the President of the Republic declared the state of emergency and restricted the rights of circulation for workers in the public and private sector, with the exception of those working in the strategic sectors of the State.

Working Activities in the Strategic Sector

  • The companies that are part of the strategic sectors are authorized to keep their employers working at their offices.

The Use of Safe Conducts

  • According to the protocol for the use of safe-conducts, employees from companies related to strategic sectors does not require a safe conduct to circulate during the state of emergency. However, we strongly suggest employees to obtain one, as there is a very strict control in the streets carried out by the police.

  • A safe conduct can be obtained electronically at and this document does not require any further authorization.

Modification and Reduction of Labor Activities

  • Employees are allowed to reduce or modify the working day for a period not exceeding six months, renewable for up to six additional months.

  • Likewise, employers are allowed to modify the working day with the inclusion of up to 40 hours per week even on Saturdays and Sundays, but with a mandatory rest of 2 consecutive days.

  • For the modification or reduction of the working day, employers shall submit an electronic request in the Labor System to obtain the authorization of the competent labor authority.

Suspension of Labor Activities

  • If an employer finds that it is practically impossible to continue working even after reducing or modifying the working day, said employer may suspend working activities. Please note that this does not imply the termination of the labor relationship.

  • For this purpose, the employer shall submit an electronic request in the Labor System to obtain the authorization of the competent labor authority.

  • Once the sanitary emergency is over, the employees have the obligation to recover the time of suspension, otherwise the employer is entitled to request the restitution of the salary.

  • The recovery period may last up to 12 hours per week or 8 hours per day on Saturdays.

  • Although the salary of the employee is a non-waivable right, the employee and the employer may reach an agreement regarding a mechanism of payment for said salary.

Alternatives for the Payment of the Salary

  • Modifying the employee’s working hours up to a minimum of 30 hours per week for 6 months, renewable for an equal period. In this case, the remuneration is paid based on the reduced working day (up to 25% of the salary)

  • Absolute suspension of the working day in those cases in which, due to the nature of the business, it is impossible to continue working. During this period, the employee is entitled to receive the full salary. However, a payment mechanism can be reached with the employer in writing.

  • An employer might suspend the labor relationship without salary, under the modality of leave without pay. However, this requires an agreement in writing within the parties.

  • It is worth noting that, in all cases, the contribution to the Institute of Social Security IESS must be made on the full salary amount.

Disclaimer: This document is informative and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.