17 febrero 2021

The Countdown to the Remote Work Act Has Begun. Published in El Cronista

Remote Work Act No. 27555 and its regulatory Executive Order No. 27/2021 will become effective on April 1, 2021, in accordance with Resolution No. 54/2021 by the Department of Labor, which means that the transition to full enforcement of this new law is now under way.

Article by Julián A. de Diego published in El Cronista on February 16, 2021

Right now, general labor laws and ILO Convention 177 on Home Work apply to remote work arrangements implemented as a result of the lockdown measures and social distancing mandate imposed when the Executive declared the social, economic and public health emergency.

Then lockdown turned into social distancing in mid-December 2020, and now the situation is desperately calling for a process whereby each company can organize their business based on the demands for competitiveness, technology, the domestic and international market, and specially, the forecast for 2021 and 2022 activity.

Now is the time to build a new model for organizations to operate during the social distancing period, considering that the pandemic is not under control and Argentina has not started mass vaccination yet. 

Based on the new Act No. 27555 and Executive Order No. 27/2021, the following obligations arise, namely:

1.         Distribute human labor alternating between in-person work (at the employer’s facilities) and remote work, whichever the arrangement, whether with full-time or part-time schedules, or a combination of both;

2.         Organizations must keep the status quo until April 1, and the schedule to be adopted shall be fully governed by the Remote Work Act from then onwards;

3.         Each remote worker, whether full-time or part-time, under a fixed or flexible work arrangement, or with ultra-flexible working hours on site or remotely, must enter into a special written agreement as provided by the Remote Work Act, the regulatory Executive Order, and the newly passed Section 102 bis of the Employment Contract Act, classifying this type of relationship as a contractual mode;

4.         Remote workers are not governed by this Act when they work on site, at the establishment, offices or branches of the clients to whom the employer renders services continually or regularly, or when work is sporadically or occasionally done from home at employees’ request or under any exceptional circumstances;

5.         All legal requirements must be duly met: voluntary acceptance (employees’ express written consent), working hours and the right to disconnect, time management for employees to comply with their caregiving responsibilities, a new layout for company offices or services in order to set limits to reversibility, IT tools (software and hardware), supplies, expenses and reimbursements to be paid by employers, and hygiene standards, preventive medicine and safety at the workplace.

6.         Employers must adopt monitoring systems that respect the right to privacy and property inviolability, and employees must agree in writing that they will use the IT equipment provided by employers for professional purposes only, and they are forbidden to use it for personal email, social media, text messaging and in any other form that may be created for personal or family use.

We should not underestimate the construction of a new system for companies in the light of the high impact caused by telework, work from home and the maximization of resources still in place to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, which is very far from being under control. 

Those organizations that have previous experience of work from home have been working in the design of the new model imposed by the current circumstances for several months already. Those with no experience in telework have been constantly putting off the analysis of changes and will surely undergo difficulties because they do not have a process of transition in place, and by April 1 they will face a number of substantive reforms with greater vulnerability.  

A new era has dramatically begun in the world of human work across the globe, where telematics tools (communications and information technology), paperless office, deburocratization, decentralization and offshoring will be everyday standards.

The Employment Contract Act will be background information, a precedent, containing general rules, principles and technical legal remedies, but the focus of the future of work will be exponential technologies, remote work, AI and a changing world that includes innovation and new challenges. Finally, the legal obligations are now a challenge for human resources and industrial relations; a new organization of work should be created based on new technologies and remote work.

Por Julián A. de Diego
Por Julián A. de Diego

Fundador y Titular del estudio “de Diego & Asociados”.  Abogado, Doctor en Ciencias Jurídicas.