Labor implications derived from the presidential dispositions for the state of public calamity in Guatemala

Luis Enrique Solares Larrave

Derived from the dispositions issued for the public calamity and the strict orders for compliance, issued by the President of the Republic on March 16, 2020, and published in the Official Gazette on March 17th, 2020, we deem essential for you to take into consideration the following labor and social security considerations:

1. The work activities of the private sector are mandatory suspended from Tuesday, March 17th, 2020, at 00:00 hours until March 31, 2020, at 24 hours.

2. There are some criteria and opinions that the labor suspension ordered by the President of the Republic constitutes a collective suspension of the work contracts in accordance with Guatemala´s Work Code.

3. The collective suspension can be total or partial. The total suspension will occur due to an act of god or force majeure. Still, the force majeure needs to be evidenced within the three days following the occurrence of the act, and a resolution from the Work Inspection shall be issued in that regard. Without a said resolution, the salaries payment shall be made.

4. Another option for workers close to having the right to enjoy their vacations is to promote the use of their vacation periods during this time. If the worker is not entitled yet to enjoy vacations, then the employer and employee must reach an agreement in this regard.

5. Regardless of the above, we suggest waiting for the publishing of the legal dispositions that regulate this matter furthermore, whether they are issued by the Republic’s Presidency, the Work and Social Prevision Ministry and the Republic Congress.

6. Notwithstanding the suspension of the work activities, the decree in mention indicates the exemption cases for the general rule and establishes what services or businesses remain open. In these cases of exemption, both employer and employee must apply all the hygiene, health and social security measures indicated by the Labor Code and the Health and the Occupational Security Rules. As well as all the legal dispositions issued by the President of the Republic due to the calamity status decreed and the applicable legal dispositions issued or to be issued by the Health Ministry, Work Ministry and the Guatemalan Social Security Institute.

7. For the services and business not qualified as excepted and that will suspend their activities, it is suggested for the employers too, within their possibilities, continue with their activities by doing home office during the time the presidential limitations remain effective. For those workers that cannot render their services by doing home-office, one option is to grant the suspension period as part of their vacations period to not affect the worker, given that during that time the worker will not be at the employer disposition. It is essential to be aware of any new dispositions issued by the Republic’s government and Congress.

We will continue to render our services from home. If you need further information or any clarification or to solve any doubts regarding any labor dispositions, we can gladly assist you, so you comply with the applicable laws and regulations.