Law 21,220 on Distance Work and Telework recognizes the employer’s primary duty to protect the worker, establishing the obligation to formally inform the remote worker or teleworker about the risks involved in their work, the preventive measures and the correct procedures according to each particular case.
Additionally, before the start of remote work or telework, the employer must train the worker on the primary health and safety measures that must be considered to carry out said work. This training may be carried out directly by the employer or through the insurance administering body of Law No. 16,744, as deemed appropriate.
Finally, the employer must also formally inform the worker of the existence or not of legally constituted unions in the company at the start of the work. Likewise, suppose a union is formed after the start of work. In that case, the employer must inform the workers subject to this contract of this fact within ten days of receiving the communication established in Article 225.
But concerning the specific health and safety conditions, it was stipulated in said law that Regulation would measure them.
Said Regulation of the Distance Work and Telework Law was later approved by Supreme Decree No 18/2020 and enters into force on October 2, 2020 (90 days after its publication in the Official Gazette on July 3, 2020).
Fulfilling the legal mandate, the Regulation establishes as a guiding principle the obligation of the employer to assume the management of occupational risks that threaten the life and health of the worker, and, in particular, the following commitments, following the principles and conditions of Law No. 16,744 on occupational accidents and diseases:
1) Identify and evaluate environmental and ergonomic work conditions: The employer must provide workers with the risk self-assessment instrument made available to them by the insurance administrator for accidents at work and occupational diseases (Mutual). This instrument should make it possible to assess the ergonomic and environmental risks of the workplace and the psychosocial risks derived from teleworking or remote work, then having to communicate to the worker the safety and health conditions that the job must meet.
2) Develop a matrix to identify the hazards and assess the occupational risks associated with the jobs: From the self-assessment, and within 30 days of receipt, the employer must prepare the matrix to identify the hazards and assess the risks and inform the respective Mutual, to notify the worker of the relevant health and safety conditions. The matrix will not be necessary when it is agreed that the worker can freely choose where they will perform their duties. However, the employer’s obligation to report occupational hazards, prevention measures and safety requirements remain.
3) Within 15 days after the creation of the matrix, the employer must develop a work program that includes, at least:
– Preventive and corrective measures to be implemented;
– Its execution period;
– The obligations that assist the worker in its execution;
– Immediate inspection measures to be implemented by the employer;
– The control and surveillance measures of the safety and health measures adopted.
The preventive and corrective measures to be implemented must go by the following order of priority i. eliminate risks; ii. control risks at their source; iii. reduce risks to a minimum, through measures that include the development of safe working methods; and iv. as long as the risk situation persists, provide the use of adequate personal protection elements
4) Inform and training: The employer must inform the worker in writing about the risks involved in their work, the preventive measures and the correct means of work, considering the minimum characteristics that the workplace must meet, the organization of work time, considering the aspects of the products they will handle with, the risks to which they may be exposed, the preventive measures, and the benefits of the insurance procedures against occupational accidents and diseases. Also, with a periodicity not exceeding two years, the employer must carry out training, at least eight hours, on risk factors, health effects of exposure to risk factors, and preventive risk control measures.
5) Provide equipment and individual protection elements: If there are residual risks that cannot be avoided or sufficiently limited with other measures, the employer must provide equipment and personal protection elements appropriate to the risk.
6) Evaluate compliance with the work program: The employer must carry out an annual evaluation of compliance with the preventive program, the programmed actions’ effectiveness, and provide the necessary continuous improvement measures.
7) Generate and maintain the relevant documentation: The employer must document all the information related to the management of professional risks in remote work, and keep it at the disposal of the respective Labor Inspectorate.
We reiterate that we are available for consultations on the subject and support specific issues that the company may have related to the upcoming Regulation entry into force.
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