Q&A: Indefinite Labor Suspension in State of Exception by COVID-19

Q: Can employers suspend work hours during the sanitary emergency?

A: Yes, the Ministry of Labor through Ministerial Agreements MDT-2020-076 and MDT-2020077, allowed employers to apply the telework modality, as well as, reduce, modify and/or suspend the working hours of their workers for a period no longer than 6 months, with the possibility of extension for an additional 6 months.

Q: In which cases can I request the suspension?

A: In those cases, in which due to the nature of the business it is impossible to continue working by teleworking, reducing or modifying the working day. Naturally, there are certain industries such as health, provision of food and medicine, among others, which are legally exempt.

Q: How do I request the suspension?

A: The employer can request the suspension electronically in the Unified Work System to obtain the approval of the competent authority.

Q: Is the employer required to pay remuneration during the suspension?

A: There are two alternatives. The first is granting a provisional license without remuneration or the suspension of the working day without pay. In this case, it is mandatory to have the acceptance of the worker.

The second alternative is that the employer requests through the Unified Work System an indefinite suspension of the working day. In this case, the employer is obliged to pay 100% of the remuneration during the suspension. However, the worker has the obligation to recover the working day once the sanitary emergency is over.

The aforementioned recovery may be carried out for up to 3 additional daily hours and/or up to 4 hours on Saturdays. The employer may request the return of the amounts paid during the suspension to those workers who do not comply with the recovery obligation.

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