The Continued Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Remote Working in Latin America

In this Expert Focus podcast, Leticia Ribeiro, an employment law partner at Trench Rossi Watanabe, together with Diego Bongiovanni and Liliana Hernandez, employment partners at Baker McKenzie, discuss the adjustments made in the employment sector in Latin America as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the substantial impact they have on the way in which employees currently work.

Published on 15 June 2023
Diego Bongiovanni, Baker McKenzie, Chambers EF contributor
Diego Bongiovanni
Ranked in Latin America: Labour & Employment
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Liliana Hernandez, Baker McKenzie, Chambers EF contributor
Liliana Hernandez
Leticia Ribeiro, Trench Rossi Watanabe, Chambers EF contributor
Leticia Ribeiro
Ranked in Chambers Brazil: Labour & Employment
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Flexibility Still Required in Relation to Hybrid Working Arrangements

Over time, there has been a constant and increasing movement toward the return to working from the office, either full or part time. While many employers insist on this trend, especially since the return to the office is argued to enhance team collaboration and further strengthen company culture, many employees continue to resist returning, after getting used to more flexibility.

Some of the aspects mentioned by the workforce to justify continuing remote work, or at least having a hybrid system, refer to:

  • avoiding the long and expensive commute;
  • technology issues while working from the office; and
  • many colleagues not being on site in co-ordinated time slots.

This podcast looks at the need for employers to develop policies to address this situation in creative ways, ensuring the retention of key talent, while acknowledging current realities and requirements of both organisations and their workforce.

"Good communication and efficient systems are very important for the success of having employees come back to the workplace."

The current status of remote work regulation in Latin America and Mexico is discussed, looking at the increasing need for employees to exercise their right of disconnection from their employer’s working systems outside of working hours and during their leave of absence, as well as the right of reversal, in terms of which an employer will be obliged to reinstate an office-based scheme in certain circumstances.

It is expected that health and safety regulations will be put in place in the foreseeable future, to include certain obligations on employers around remote work.

Practical Challenges for Latin American Employers in Respect of Hybrid Work

In general, challenges relate to:

  • the maintenance of working schemes in compliance with the law, while maintaining flexibility to revert to an office-based scheme of work;
  • working-hours control;
  • keeping track and updating expenses to be reimbursed;
  • control of health and safety conditions of the remote working environment;
  • how to handle teleworking agreements in the medium to long term;
  • registration of remote working arrangement with the Ministry of Labour, in jurisdictions such as Argentina; and
  • the requirement of flexibility by the modern workforce, although this is not necessarily desirable in light of current legislation around, for example, medical coverage, tax and immigration implications in different jurisdictions.

More than ever, it is important for the employer to keep employee engagement and experience top of mind, while building alternative structures that meet business needs, as well as the growing expectations of the workforce.

Baker McKenzie

Chambers Global Practice Guide Employment 2022

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