Our Labor Law specialist, Damirca Prieto answers questions on the effect or COVID-19 in the Venezuelan labor sector.
On March 15, 2020, the National Executive informed of 17 cases of infections with Coronavirus COVID-19 in Venezuela. In order to prevent massive contagion, it declared Social Preventive Quarantine for 7 states: Caracas, Miranda, La Guaira, Apure, Zulia, Cojedes and Táchira; clarifying that, "this is not collective holidays". It indicated that all work activities are suspended until further notice, except those related to health, services and food areas (the Exempted Areas). In view of said statement and the concerns that may arise in the labor sector, we have taken the initiative to prepare this frequent questions and answers, to clarify certain general doubts during this situation of National Alarm.
According to article 70 of the Law for Prevention, Conditions and Work Environment (LOPCYMAT for its acronym in Spanish):
"Occupational disease is understood as the pathological state contracted or aggravated on occasion of work, or exposure to the environment in which the worker is obligated to work in, such as those attributable to the action of physical and mechanical agents, uncomfortableness, meteorological conditions, chemical and biological agents, psychosocial and emotional factors, which are manifested by an organic injury, enzymatic or biochemical disorders, functional disorders or mental imbalance, whether temporary or permanent. (…) “
Based on the above definition, we suggest taking the immediate appropriate measures in the workplace to prevent COVID-19 from becoming an occupational disease.
The employer is obligated to inform and implement protection measures for the employee, to prevent or minimize the risks of contagion and thus prevent it from becoming an occupational disease.
In case of violation by the employer of the legal regulations on Occupational Health and Safety, it could be subject to the payment of the compensation established in article 130 LOPCYMAT.
Given that the Exempted Areas are health, food and services, these must immediately adopt preventive measures of collective or individual nature, depending on the activity carried out by each company. Among the general measures to be taken are:
If the employee works in the health, food and services areas, is not infected and does not present Coronavirus symptoms, it must attend the workplace. If the worker has symptoms or suspicion, it must immediately inform the employer and the Prevention Delegate so that corresponding measures are taken. If the worker does not work in the Excepted Areas, it must discuss with the employer the implementation of remote work measures.
Yes. Teleworking allows the employee to work in a different place than the office, where it will work the regular days and times, and continues to have the same obligations. It is important to clarify that workers are not on vacations or holidays, but these are alternate measures due to the contingency the country is undergoing. The employer must implement methods to control hours and remote work.
Yes. It is the employer's obligation to guarantee the safety of its workers.
No. Workers must comply with hygiene and safety regulations to avoid infection, and in case of suspicion immediately notify their Prevention Delegate or the Human Resources department. These will take the appropriate measures in accordance to the established protocols for these cases.
Yes, and in the event of death due to the virus, the employer must inform and render statement within 24 hours of the event to the National Institute of Prevention, Health and Safety at Work.
The liability of the employer will be compromised to the extent that it has taken all measures established in LOPCYMAT, and by other governmental entities.
Yes. The replacement worker will be hired under a Fixed-Time Employment Contract, according to the provision in article 64 section (b) of the Labor Law.
Keep calm and above all enforce the rules established for the prevention of Coronavirus.
In case of enquiries or doubts, do not hesitate to contact our Labor Law specialist, Damirca Prieto at email@example.com.