Labor recommendations regarding the collective suspension of work contracts in Guatemala

Luis Enrique Solares Larrave

The Governmental Decree No. 06-2020, the presidential dispositions published in the Official Gazette on March 22, 2020, that modify and clarify the presidential dispositions issued on March 16, 2020, impact the labor activities in the following manner:

1. Under the Labor Code, the collective suspension cases of work agreements, in which both, employer and employee are relieved from complying with their fundamental obligations, without their liability, due to acts of God or force majeure cases. The Government can enact emergency measures that, without damaging employers’ interests, will result in reliving the economic situation of the workers.

2. As per the introductory part of the Labor Code, the right to work is realistic because it studies the person in his social reality and it considers that to solve a specific matter through equity, it is essential to focus on the economic situation of the parties primarily.

3. In the presidential dispositions, the voluntary closing of the industrial activities is contemplated, and it will be made from Monday, March 23, 2020, at 00:00 hours until Tuesday, March 31, 2020, considering the possibility of starting businesses from April 1, 2020. The voluntary closing won't apply to the food, pharmacy, health and personal hygiene industries.

4. Due to occupational health matters, the Government encourages to suspend work contracts, under the form and time that every specific and individual situation requires. The possibility to sign agreements complying with the laws and the labor principles is accepted under the condition that the minimum guarantees are not affected and taking into consideration the conciliation, realism and conventional principles.

5. Workplaces that are exempted from the suspension since March 17, 2020, it's suggested that employer and employee, execute an agreement that will function the suspension of work agreement. The salary could be pay in whole or in part, focusing before all the economic situation of the parties, without damaging the interests of the employer and without negatively impacting or reducing the minimum and inalienable rights regulated by the labor laws and regulations.

6. When executing agreements between employer and employees, the period in which the suspension is active shall and cannot interrupt the work continuity.

7. The changes that might occur during work hours, given their amendment by the Government Decree No. 06-2020, shall not constitute a change in the work conditions, as long as the work hours are respected as agreed in the work contract signed with each employee. If due to the change of working hours, a change is made to the previously agreed hours, the payment of extraordinary hours shall be taken into consideration.

8. Regardless of the presidential dispositions issued until this date, it should always be taken into consideration that the Government, through a decree issued by the Work Ministry can enact the emergency measures it deems convenient regarding the collective suspension of the work contracts.

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