Portfolio of responses from Ministries of Labor to COVID-19

 

Updated as of May 26th, 2020. 

 

The responses given by the Ministries of Labor of the OAS Member States to the crisis unleashed by COVID-19 have been varied and diverse. Nevertheless, some common elements stand out, such as the promotion of telework, the publication of guidelines for workers and employers in the face of the emergency, and the strengthening of both labor inspections and systems to attend labor complaints . The measures adopted by each country are listed below.

This Portfolio is part of the efforts the OAS is undertaking to support Governments in the region and will be permanently updated by monitoring websites and social media.  Please send any contribution or comment to trabajo@oas.org.

IMPORTANT UPDATE - NEW INFORMATION:   As countries begin to ease some lockdown restrictions, we are systematizing information on Protocols and Guidelines from all over the world to return to work during Covid-19.    We hope they provide good elements for planning and designing the Americas own protocols and guidelines to prepare for a period where economic activity coexists with the pandemic.

 

 

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA 

 

The  Department of Labour has reported through its social media  measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and published a statement reporting on extraordinary provisions in labor relations.

MEASURES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR: 

 

ARGENTINA 

 

The Ministry of Labor, Employment, and Social Security has implemented a series of measures that include the promotion of  extraordinary leave and/or remote work in the public and private sectors, regulations to the Presidential Decree promoting healthy distancing and ensuring workers receive the same salary during the contingency, as well as the delivery of an Emergency Family Income subsidy to informal workers and single taxpayers, in conjunction with the Ministry of Economy. Additionally, a new program to support workers and employers was put in place.

MEASURES OF  MTEySS:

BAHAMAS 

 

The Department of Labour established a link for online applications for unemployment insurance, with special attention to workers in the tourism sector, as well as a telephone helpline to facilitate this process.

MEASURES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR:

 

BARBADOS 

 

The Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations has published on its website the guidelines for prevention, hygiene, and quarantine prepared by the Government of Barbados and published a set of guidelines for worker protection in the workplace.

MEASURES OF THE MINISTRY OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL PARTNERSHIP RELATIONS:

 

BELIZE

 

The Ministry of Labor, Rural Development, and Local Government of Belize has implemented measures such as informing employers of current regulations in terms of contract termination and temporary leave due to COVID-19. Special emphasis was made on sick leave, which contemplates that employers must give 16 working days with full pay for all those who have worked in the same center for 60 days or more. Additionally, the Ministry now offers services online and by telephone after the declaration of State of Emergency..

MEASURES OF THE MINISTRY OF LABOUR, RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

 

BOLIVIA 

 

The Ministry of Labor, Employment, and Social Welfare adopted a series of measures that included first, the reduction of the work day to 5 hours, and later, the declaration of a state of total quarantine where they issued certificates of authorization for workers of exceptional activities. In addition, the Ministry has carried out inspections of hospitals together with international organizations.The Ministry also prohibited unjustified layoffs and wage reductions.

MEASURES OF MTEPS:

 

BRAZIL 

 

The Secretariat of Labor and Social Security of the Ministry of Economy has implemented measures such as the allocation of emergency assistance to informal workers, micro-entrepreneurs, and unemployed population. Regulations were also adapted to the state of emergency, which allow, for example, facilitating access to telework, anticipating vacations and holidays, and reducing working hours. The Government also launched an emergency program that will give economic support to workers with suspended contracts and/or reduction in their working day, and published OSH guidelines for employers to follow during the pandemic.

MEASURES OF THE LABOR SECRETARIAT OF THE MINISTRY OF ECONOMY

 

CANADA 

 

The Canadian Labour Program created a web page where workers can consult the different benefits to which they may be entitled as a result of the contingency. It details new provisions for existing programs. For example, new guidelines were established to access unemployment insurance due to illness, waiting times between the presentation of the application and the first payment were reduced, and the requirement for a medical certificate to access this benefit was eliminated, so that those workers in quarantine can apply. The amounts of some benefits were also expanded. The Government also has an available website with information on Occupational Safety and Health in construction sites during the COVID-19 emergency.

MEASURES OF THE LABOUR PROGRAM:

CHILE 

 

In response to the contingency, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare of Chile is prioritizing the presentation of bills to Congress that seek to protect the employment and income of workers. It is specially noteworthy the enactment of the Telewark bill on March 25th, 2020, and Employment Protection Law on April 1, 2020, which includes the reduction of the work day and maintaingn the contractual link with temporary suspension of functions, but assigning the payment through unemployment insurance.

MEASURES OF THE MTPS:

 

COLOMBIA

 

The Ministry of Labor of Colombia has implemented measures such as the preparation and dissemination of a Guide to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, as well as the promotion and authorization of Telework, and other alternatives for workers to keep a healthy distance, such as anticipation of vacations, flexible work hours, and paid leave. Similarly, it was announced that older adults in the “Colombia Mayor” program may receive two months of advance payments. The ministry also banned employers from forcing workers to take unpaid leave and established guidelines on training, prevention, and protective elements for delivery personnel. Also, the Ministry put in place an emergency subsidy for unemployed population.

MEASURES OF THE MINISTRY OF LABOR:

 

COSTA RICA

 

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security of Costa Rica has implemented measures to promote remote work through the publication of the Guidelines to Implement Telework in an Emergency, and the guidelines for workers in "not teleworkable" positions. Likewise, a law was passed that reduces the workday and the temporary suspension of contracts. 

All relevant information for employers and workers is collected on a microsite within the MTSS page. MTSS also took part in launching and disseminating the economic relief bond "Bono Proteger" .

MEASURES OF MTSS:

 

DOMINICA 

 

The government of Dominica has published hygiene measures to prevent infections on its website, as well as other guidelines and items of interest.

MEASURES OF THE GOVERNMENT OF DOMINICA:

 

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

 

The Ministry of Labor, in addition to disseminating information about the recommendations and measures to combat the virus, offers online services such as benefit calculations and access to various forms of relief. In addition, it has created a new website where it shares information regarding the Employee Solidarity Assistance Fund (FASE), whose purpose is to support the affected workers. The Ministry also encourages employers to make working hours more flexible and implement remote work, to the extent possible.

MEASURES OF THE MINISTRY OF LABOR:

 

ECUADOR

 

The Ministry of Labor has taken measures such as strengthening labor inspection to verify compliance with sanitary conditions to prevent the virus from spreading. In addition, given the Presidential Decree suspending all non-essential activities, ministerial agreements were published on telework guidelines, as well alternatives such as suspension, reduction, or modification of the work day. The Ministry also encourages employers and their workers to create new labor agreements to respond to the contingency. Additionally, it implemented a live chat to respond to labor concerns, and collaborated in the dissemination and implementation of the Family Protection Bond, from the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion.

MEASURES OF THE MINISTRY OF LABOR:

 

EL SALVADOR

 

The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare took measures such as the strengthening of the labor inspection to verify compliance with government Decrees that instruct the suspension of work in most workplaces. Similarly, it launched a digital tool where citizens can see the measures that have been implemented, relevant information about the virus, and where workers can report violations of their labor rights online from home.

MEASURES OF MTPS:

 

GUATEMALA

 

The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare adopted the Presidential Decree than suspends non-essential labor and published a series of infographics with recommendations for working from home and reducing the risk of infection in the workplace. It also disseminated relevant information such as the workplaces that are exempt from suspension. Likewise, it reinforced the telephone line for citizen consultations and labor complaints related to the virus, and enabled an specialized website for labor complaints on COVID-19.

MEASURES OF MTPS:

 

GUYANA

 

The Labour Department of the Ministry of Social Protection had a meeting with employer representatives to discuss contingency plans, given the potential for job losses. Likewise, a recommendation was issued for businesses to implement the personnel rotation system to reduce the risk of infection.

MEASURES OF THE MINISTRY OF SOCIAL PROTECTION:

 

HONDURAS

 

The Secretariat of Labor and Social Security of Honduras published a Security and Hygiene Protocol to prevent infections in the workplace. It also strengthened labor inspections to verify compliance of the President’s decree to suspend all non-essential activities.  Additionally, it published guidelines for employers to legally grant vacation days and holidays during the state of emergency. The STSS is also a part of the Emergency Operation Center of San Pedro Sula and other regions of the country, and has held meetings with employers from some of the sectors that will be affected the most.

MEASURES OF THE STSS:

 

JAMAICA

 

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security of Jamaica has delivered hygiene products to quarantined families, and is calling for employers to be flexible regarding working day, teleworking and paid leave to reduce infections in the workplace. Additionally, the MLSS published a protection Guide for workers and established telephone and WhatsApp lines to attend labor complaints and emergencies.

MEASURES BY MLSS:

 

MEXICO

 

The Secretariat of Labor and Social Welfare published an “Action guide for the workplace” for workers and employers,  containing all information on COVID-19, as well as a Frequently Asked Questions Guide for workers. These and other useful materials and tools are grouped in the microsite "Together for Work", enabled specifically for this contingency. Also, an extraordinary permission to process paid leave was enabled through the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS). Additionally, the Ministry improved the phone lines and a website to attend workers’ complaints for illegal termination or unilateral contractual modifications due to the contingency.

MEASURES OF STPS:

 

PANAMA

 

The Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development (MITRADEL) has enabled phone lines and email accounts to respond to consultations on measures and actions related to the virus, and is undertaking health and safety inspections in the workplace. Also, it has required employers to create, within their organizations, a special committee on health and hygiene for the Prevention and Attention of COVID-19, which they have to register with the Ministry. Also, MITRADEL has developed a protocol to preserve hygiene and health at work and has elaborated and divulged labor legislations and Decrees regarding the State of Emergency. The Ministry also implemented a digital tool to pay for services online using credit card and a frequently asked questions webpage about the consequences of the contingency. Likewise, it contributed in the implementation of the "Panama Solidario" bond, which benefits workers with suspended contacts.

MEASURES OF MITRADEL:

 

PARAGUAY

 

The Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security organized a video-conference with the Ministers of Labor of South-America to exchange information on the measures undertaken in the fight against COVID-19. Their national measures include the dissemination of resolutions and recommendations, production of face masks and medical kits to be used by health, inspection to businesses accused of non-compliance of health and labor measures, and the implementation of a service to respond to worker’s consultations. Also, it is developing an online training program, including courses for the service sector, Google Drive, and web design. The Ministry also runs an online economic reactivation campaign for MSME's, implemented an online service for labor procedures. Additionally MTEySS collaborated with the Treasury for the implementation of a program that offers an emergency relief to informal workers.

MEASURES OF MTEySS:

 

PERU 

 

The Ministry of Labor and Employment Promotion of Peru disseminated the exceptional and general labor measures in place during the state of National Health Emergency. The first exceptional measure establishes that dismissals during this period are not justified by the health emergency, and that temporary leaves must be paid. In addition, it has a toll-free line to resolve inquiries, it receives virtual complaints through its website, offers virtual services, and establishes regulations for telework in the private sector. The Ministry also implemented measures to ensure the health of workers and to protect jobs through subsidies, a support for MSMEs, and the renewal of contracts with electronic signatures, and a bond for independent workers.

MEASURES OF MTPE:

 

SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS 

 

The Ministry of Labour, Social Security, and Ecclesiastical Affairs has shared preventive measures in the workplace against the virus. Addittionaly, the Ministry has established an economic relief program through an Emergency Relief Fund, and has dictaminated that workers affected may qualify for the Poverty Alleviation Programme Assistance. Also the Ministry is seeking ways to support SME's that are not registered in social security.

MEASURES OF THE MINISTRY OF LABOUR, SOCIAL SECURITY AND ECCLESIASTICAL AFFAIRS:

 

SAINT LUCIA

 

The Ministry of Infrastructure, Ports, Energy, and Labour replicated the updates from the Ministry of Health and announced the continuity of services and the rotation of personnel to avoid the spread of the virus. It also announced that tourism authorities are providing online services.

MEASURES OF THE MINISTRY OF INFRASTRUCTURE, PORTS, ENERGY AND LABOR:

 

SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES  

 

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry, and Labour announced the distribution of food that strengthens the immune system such as ginger, turmeric, lemons, spinach, among others, and urged civil society to do the same. Likewise, the Department fo Labor published Guidelines for workers and employers towards mitigating the effects of the pandemic.

 

MEASURES OF THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHERIES, RURAL TRANSFORMATION, INDUSTRY, AND LABOUR :

 

SURINAME

 

The Ministry of Labor published on its website a Guide for workers and employers on the emergency situation, which highlights the resources they can go to so they do not lose days or hours of work. Likewise, employers are urged to extend the contracted hours as much as possible and to remember that it is the responsibility of the employer to provide the conditions of safety and hygiene in the workplace.

MEASURES OF THE MINSITRY OF LABOUR:

 

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO 

 

The Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development, together with the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services, have implemented measures such as the publication of workplace guidelines on the closure of schools, the dissemination of online services, and the implementation of social assistance for employers and workers.

MEDIDAS OF MOLSED:

 

UNITED STATES 

 

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has developed a webpage with resources to help workers and employers prepare for the COVID-19 virus, which includes information and guidance on workplace safety; wages, hours, and leave; unemployment insurance; and support for dislocated workers and states. The DOL has also made some of this information available in several languages, including Spanish.

 

MEASURES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

 

URUGUAY 

 

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security has created some forms so that workers can apply for a partial unemployment benefit and is providing sickness benefits so that workers over 65 do not leave their homes. In addition, the Ministry is receiving email inquiries to answer questions from the public and continues to offer online services.

MEASURES OF MTSS:

 

 

RELEVANT LINKS AND PUBLICATIONS

ILO

PUBLICATIONS:

LINKS:

INTER-AMERICAN DIALOGUE  
IADB
ECLAC
PUBLICATIONS:

LINKS

IOE
TUCA