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.
The 24th Civil Court of Santiago recently found that 16 inter-company unions had been created with the sole purpose of granting union privileges to their leaders and ordered the unions to be removed from the Labour Authority's register. The ruling is of great relevance as it is the first time that a civil court has dissolved a union for illicit activity contrary to the spirit of the law that regulates labour organisations.
The Supreme Court recently decided a variation on limitation periods for employment actions – the so-called 'content doctrine' – which stresses the nature of relief sought by plaintiffs. However, the doctrine is problematic, as it implicitly extends limitation periods by calculating them from the date of termination of employment and not from the date on which any wrongdoing was committed.
The Ninth Civil Court of Santiago recently held that three state agencies had been negligent in protecting the occupational safety of 31 trapped miners and ordered the Treasury to pay approximately €101,523 to each miner. In its defence, the state argued that the significant amount spent in rescuing and compensating the miners (approximately €8.63 million) had protected their moral suffering.
Following a recent opinion rendered by the Labour Board, companies may continue to extend to non-union employees benefits which they received before they were added to a collective bargaining agreement, because such benefits are not an attribute of the collective bargaining agreement for non-union employees. This new position impedes union interference in the granting of benefits to employees who are not involved in union activity.
When structuring their businesses, companies must keep in mind that employment liability cannot be avoided by hiring personnel through their company affiliates or related entities. Fines may apply if the existence of multiple companies under a common employment management is found to be a scheme to avoid compliance with employment rights (eg, allocating profits in one company but hiring employees in another).
Evidence used in employment cases must be obtained in a lawful manner and in accordance with fundamental rights, such as due process. However, a recent Supreme Court decision has fostered debate about the protection of fundamental rights within the context of an employment relationship. The court found that a conversation recorded without consent by a concealed voice recorder at a meeting could be considered valid evidence and did not violate the fundamental rights of the individuals recorded.
The right to collective bargaining for non-unionised employees is a contentious issue following the recent labour reform. The Supreme Court recently decided on constitutional protective action, finding that the Labour Inspectorate need not register a collective agreement with a non-union employee group. Although this has not rendered such agreements illegal, it has increased the uncertainty around them and may discourage them in future.