Complex, the reform to regulate home office work: Private Sector and Analysts

Note published in El Economista, Empresas [Companies] Section by María del Pilar Martínez.
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Specialists and representatives of the business sector agreed that it is difficult to quantify aspects such as internet and electricity payments.

The reform to the Federal Labor Law, which has the objective of regulating telework includes aspects that are “difficult to quantify” and represent a direct impact for companies, which could do little to obtain adjustments in the Senate after it received the respective memorandum from the House of Representatives.

This was the statement made by Fernando Yllanes, president of the Commission on Social Security and Human Resources of the Confederation of Industrial Chambers (Concamin), as he said that if an agreement is reached between the employer and the worker “both parties will have benefits, like the fact that the worker will not spend money on transportation, that he will be able to have a balance between life and work; here, it seems to me that if the worker is the interested party, the employer should not be required to make payments, such as internet service, because leaving it as it is in the reform that was approved could cause problems, in my opinion.”

In this sense, they hoped that, in the Senate of the Republic, there would be “some corrections. The decision by the House of Representatives surprised us, because they added many aspects that make it more complex, the more it is particularized, the more complicated it is.”

He added that the Federal Labor Law already provides for the employer to provide the necessary tools for the worker to be able to carry out his work, and it also already states that the workers must take care of these tools and keep them in good condition; “why include additional patches and try to regulate something that will never be the same, because there is no single way to do the work, there are a thousand ways; total partial, at the request of the worker, by agreement between the parties.”

Nevertheless, specialists recommend employers to implement policies and procedures that comply with the new provisions and establishing individual and collective contracts that comply with the law, with the objective of avoiding the application of fines due to lack of compliance.

Héctor de la Cruz, a specialist at D&M Abogados, explained that the approved decision considers fines that could go from 250 to 2,500 Units of Measure and Update (UMA) , in accordance with Article 997 of the Federal Labor Law; that is, from 21,720 to 217,200 [pesos] in line with the current value of the UMA, and this would be for every worker affected by the lack of compliance of the employer, in accordance with the provisions of Article 992 of the Federal Labor Law.

For his part, Germán de la Garza de Vecchi, a lawyer at Deloitte Legal-Mowat, said that employers must establish contracts – individual or collective – which specify all of the aspects required by the reform, and they must be clear on the fact that it is considered as home office when the time that the worker works in this modality is more than 40% of his working hours.

In this sense, the employment contract must specify the amount that the employer will pay for the concept of services related to Teleworking, which include electricity, internet, telephone services, among others.

Working hours must adjust to the legal maximums and, therefore, companies must implement measures to monitor attendance and effective service time.

“Collective bargaining agreements must include teleworking as part of the working conditions, as long as the activities are compatible. And internal work regulations must also regulate this modality, based on the law”, said De la Cruz.

Additionally, the employer has the obligation of installing and giving maintenance to work tools (ergonomic chairs, printers, computers, etc.), assuming the costs of connection and electricity in a proportional part.

The right of the worker to disconnection is also included, understanding as such, that the worker can turn his equipment off, not answer calls or mails, etc. at the end of his working hours, with the objective of allowing him to devote time to other personal activities.

The change to this modality can be made only with the worker’s consent and he will have, at all times, the right of reversibility, that is, he can decide to change to a presential modality.

In no case may the worker under the Teleworking mode earn less that a worker who works in the facilities of the work source.