Panama: Labor Regulations -vs- COVID-19

Currently, all companies are facing the consequences generated by the “CoVid-19” virus, reason why Quijano & Associates hereby informs about the actions and modifications in labor regulations that you should consider:

Teleworking, a new trend for our country, which was established and regulated by Law No. 126 of February 18, 2020, thus giving companies the possibility of establishing a new modality in the employment relationship with their workers.

In the face of the existing health crisis due to the presence of COVID-19, it is necessary to reinvent ourselves and modify working relationships with our workers, in order to continue providing an effective service to our clients, which is why its implementation is conducive at this time.

Telework: Consists of the provision of subordinate service, without physical presence, through computer means.

What should be considered to implement Teleworking?

  • The subscription of an addendum to the employment contract must be managed and it must be registered, digitally or analogously, at MITRADEL;
  • It must be established if this modality of teleworking will be partial or full time;
  • Through an advanced notice, the employer may require the worker to return to work at their offices;
  • The employer may require the worker to work overtime or carry out emergency work as guard duty, complying with the established rules;
  • The employer will cover the additional costs of bandwidth speed, when required, for the execution of telework;
  • Once the telework relationship begins, the teleworker will be provided with training related to handling the equipment;
  • Both the worker and the employer are responsible for taking measures to protect the data with which they will work.

Other Provisions:

As this afflicting situation has evolved, the Authorities have taken actions in this regard, issuing regulations such as Executive Decree No. 71 of March 13, 2020, which temporarily regulates Article 159 of the Labor Code , in which it is established that with the agreement of the workers, the employer may reduce the working hours or the working week, and the way they will be to avoid the spread of the virus.

This agreement must be signed by all workers or the union, if it exists, based on the template included in the Decree itself, and only the hours that were actually worked, should be paid.

Similarly, the Ministry of Labor through Executive Decree 78 on March 16, 2020, has recommended for health reasons that in the case of those employees who are sixty (60) years old or older, as well as those who suffer of any chronic illness, pregnant women, or any other condition that makes them vulnerable, are sent on advanced vacations. In the practice, there are those who are extending this recommendation to other employees who have expired vacation time, even if they are not considered as vulnerable.

The application of article 197-A of the Labor Code, regarding labor mobility is also urged, mainly to those employees who personally assits clients.

Contact us! We are ready to support you in this time of change…