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02 September 2020
Active cases of COVID-19 are slowly beginning to decrease in Chile. In some areas, the authorities are gradually easing lockdown and movement restrictions.
In this slow transition out of pandemic mode, companies are beginning to resume operations. As such, the Ministry of Employment has created a Step-by-Step Employment Plan which highlights the safety and prevention measures that employers and employees must take in the workplace. By following this plan, employers may fulfil their legal obligation to protect employees' life and health in the workplace. The Ministry of Employment's plan follows the Ministry of Health's Resolution 591 (published on 25 July 2020) and provides:
The Step-by-Step Employment Plan highlights the safety measures that companies should consider when returning to work. These security measures should be planned, implemented and developed through the following seven steps.
Employers must stay informed about health prevention measures contained in official guidance (eg, the national COVID-19 Way of Life protocol, the Action in COVID-19 Workplaces protocol, the Employment Board's resolutions and material from the Occupational Accident and Illness Insurance Administrator).
Organisation and agreements
Employers must involve all members of the company when taking preventive measures. In particular, employees, unions, health and safety committees, experts in risk prevention and risk prevention departments should be involved. This will help to develop internal protocols of prevention measures and organise work to reduce contact between employees – for example, by:
Socialisation and training
Employers must communicate their internal protocol of prevention measures to employees, informing them of their rights and obligations or eventual modifications to the internal protocol. Employers should train all employees that work in their facilities (internal or outsourced employees) regarding:
Adaptation and implementation
Employers should adapt and implement:
Employees' mental health
With regard to employees' mental health and wellbeing, employers must:
Collaboration with the authorities on the COVID-19 traceability strategy
Early identification of suspected cases in the workplace can help to reduce wider transmission. Employers should:
Evaluation and update
As the authorities' prevention measures are updated regularly, employers must stay informed of any changes and coordinate changes in their established internal protocols and inform employees of said changes.
Failure to adopt safety measures at work may result in various penalties for employers by the authorities, which can range from fines to the closure of the establishment. Similarly, employees who consider, for reasonable reasons, that continuing their duties may result in a serious or imminent risk to their lives, may interrupt the performance of their duties without their employer having the right to suspend the payment of their salary. Employees in such situations can even claim that their employer has breached the obligations set out in the employment contract or report that their fundamental rights have been violated by them having to risk their life or physical integrity in the workplace.
The Employment Board and the Health Department may intervene and inspect a company's compliance with the safety and prevention measures. Such inspection will examine:
Finally, the insurance administration bodies under Law 16,744 also play a role in the analysis, evaluation and management of risk in the workplace. Such bodies must provide technical assistance and advice to their member or affiliated companies for the adoption of hygiene and prevention measures in the workplace.
For further information on this topic please contact Ignacio Garcia or Camila Quiroz at Porzio Rios Garcia by telephone (+56 22 729 0600) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Porzio Rios Garcia website can be accessed at www.porzio.cl.
The materials contained on this website are for general information purposes only and are subject to the disclaimer.
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