Chile: Employers, Unions Can Negotiate Four-Day Week, Teleworking Under New Law

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By Tom Azzopardi

Jan. 5—Unions and employers will be able to freely negotiate a four-day week and the option to work from home under new rules issued by Chile's labor authority Dirección del Trabajo.

Opinion No. 6804, issued Dec. 26, interprets rules incorporated into Chile's labor code following the signing of the government's strongly pro-union labor legislation, Law 20,940, by President Michelle Bachelet last August. The document is the fifth of nine the DT plans to publish interpreting various aspects of the law on labor relations.

Government Approval Not Required

The new law allows workers and employers to freely agree to a four-day workweek rather than the five-day week stipulated under the previous code. Employers and workers can also negotiate arrangements to allow workers with dependent family members to carry out their responsibilities from a place other than the workplace, such as the home or another designated location.

Previously, such arrangements required the approval of the labor authorities.

The alternative arrangements are allowed only in companies 30 percent of whose workforces are unionized and must be agreed upon through formal pacts negotiated outside regular collective bargaining between the employer and the unions representing its employees. The pacts can have a maximum duration of three years and must be approved by an absolute majority of union members in mass meetings held before a legal witness. Once agreed to, pacts apply to all union members and must be reported to the DT via an online form. Non-unionized employees must apply in writing to be covered by the pact.

Workweeks cannot exceed 45 hours, workdays 12. The DT suggests the workweek be divided into four days of 11 hours and 15 minutes or three days of 12 hours and one of nine hours.

Working Offsite

The option to work offsite is open to men and women who must care for children or for elderly or disabled relatives and may be open to other employees as agreed between the employer and the union.

The employee must apply in writing to work offsite, and the employer has 30 days to accept or reject the application. The alternative workplace, work hours and duration of the agreement must be stipulated in a signed appendix to the employment contract. The employee may unilaterally end the agreement and return to the original workplace by giving the employer 30 days' notice.

The DT has authority to inspect these pacts and to annul them if it finds health and safety regulations are being breached, a decision either party may challenge in court.

Pacts on special working conditions can also be agreed to between labor federations and one or more employers or business associations. In these cases, it is not necessary that 30 percent of the workers involved be union members.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Azzopardi in Santiago at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For More Information

For more information on Chilean HR law and regulation, see the Chile primer.

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