Chile Labour Laws: Employee Handbook (Reglamento Interno)
According to Chilean law, companies must have an internal regulation handbook (Reglamento Interno) that covers health and safety considerations as well as the companies internal policies regarding certain matters.
There are two different regulatory areas that govern the Reglamento Interno. The first one is what is more commonly known as the Reglamento Interno de Orden, Hygiene, y Seguridad (Internal Regulations on Organization, Health, and Safety), which is defined and regulated by the Chilean Labour Code. This is drafted by the employer and every company with more 10 or more permanent workers is legally obligated to have one.
The second one is established by the Industrial Accidents and Occupational Hazards in the Workplace law. Every company should have a Reglamento Interno that references this, regardless of how many workers it has. The regular practice is to combine both into one single handbook.
Minimal Requirements by Law:
According to the law, the Reglamento Interno has certain minimal requirements that need to be included:
- Time in which work begins and ends, and schedule for each shift, if there are any;
- Resting times;
- Time and place of payment;
- Obligations and prohibitions for the workers;
- Appointment of positions (Ex. Heath and Safety Office), before which the workers can raise their petitions, complaints, doubts, and suggestions, and in the case of companies with more than 200 workers, a registry containing these appointments;
- Special regulation pertaining to the different kind of activities and work, according to the workers’ age and gender, and to the necessary adjustments and support services that allow a disabled or impaired worker to perform adequately at work;
- The way in which employees can check compliance of social security laws;
- Regulations regarding accident prevention, hygiene, and security;
- Applicable sanctions for employees; which may only consist of verbal and/or written warnings, or a fine of up to 25% of the worker’s daily pay.
- Procedures for the aforementioned sanctions;
- Procedures, safety measures, and sanctions, regarding sexual harassment complaints; and
- Procedure regarding complaints about non-equal pay amongst men and women who are currently doing the same work.
According to Companies Needs:
The content included in the Reglamento Interno depends not only on what is established by law but also on the specific characteristics of the company. Companies from different industries will need to customize their handbook based on their specific circumstances.
Sexual Abuse and Harassment Policies:
For sexual abuse and harassment, there must be several items included in the Reglamento Interno. First of all, a definition of sexual harassment, which is contained in the Labor Code. Then, an internal procedure which the company must follow when a complaint is filed. This must be followed by implementing safety measures for the people involved, while an investigation takes place. This investigation can be an internal one, performed by the company, or the company can directly commission the labour office. After the investigation, a report must be issued and based on this, the company will make whatever changes are required and update the Reglamento Interno.
Abuse and Harassment in the Work Place:
Even though labor harassment is not strictly required by law to be regulated in the Reglamento Interno, it is advisable for the employer to include it. This means, a definition of labor harassment provided by the Labor Code, safety, measures, the procedures for investigation, and explicit sanctions. The regular practice is to include a very similar procedure to the one explained above.
Criminal Liability of the Company:
Recently, a law was passed in Chile which states that companies can face criminal liability if their employees when acting for the company, commit certain criminal offenses. The ones included in the law are asset laundering, financing of terrorism, bribery, and the handling of stolen goods. It is becoming a regular practice for companies to include this in their Reglamento Interno, more specifically, system and policies to prevent these criminal offenses. Included in this section are procedures of how to report, an investigation, and sanctions for the workers who do not comply with the company´s policy.
It’s also becoming more common among companies to draft an anti-bribery or anti-corruption section. This includes the regulation of donations to political parties, donations to charities, preferential treatment, presents, and favors. This is particularly important as there are new laws in place that force companies to show they are taking all available steps to address this issue.
Warnings and Reprimands to the Worker:
In the Reglamento Interno, the employer can determine sanctions for workers for violating specific policies contained in it. To be able to enforce these sanctions, the warnings must be explicitly determined in the code.
The law also states that the applicable sanctions can only consist of:
- Verbal warnings
- Written warnings
- A fine up to 25% of the worker’s daily pay.
Control measures established in relation to the prohibitions and obligations for the workers, or any other control measure, can only take place through the suited and ideal means, which are appropriate and proportional. They must also be according to the existing work relationship, and its enforcement must be general, guaranteeing impersonality in the measure, in order to respect the worker’s dignity.
This is very important to consider regarding, for example, drug or alcohol testing. If an employer suspects a worker of using drugs or alcohol, he cannot perform a drug or alcohol test for this specific reason. If the employer wishes to include drug or alcohol testing, it must be done by a) performing a company-wide test, simultaneously for all workers, or b) by working out a system in which the workers to be tested are elected at random. All these policies, including the random selection system, must be established and expressly described in the code if the employer wants to enforce them.
Copies of the code must be sent to the Health Ministry and to the Labor Office, in 5 days from the date the code comes into effect.
Regarding modifications to the Reglamento Interno, the employer must let the workers know that there will be changes made. The employer must do this 30 days before the date in which the code comes to effect. This is done by handing out copies of the Reglamento Interno, and posting them in at least two places of visibility in the workplace. A copy of the Reglamento Interno must also be submitted to the worker’s union, if there is one, to the personnel delegate, and to the Comité Paritario (the Joint Committee).
Implications when the regulations are part of the individual work contract:
The Reglamento Interno itself does not need to be agreed upon between the employer and the workers; it is drafted and can be modified by the former, and only has to adhere to a few legal standards. However, if in the work contract both parties agreed that the Reglamento Interno was an essential part of the contract, the drafting and modifications must be agreed upon between both parties (they are now of a contractual nature), and cannot come from the employer alone.
Objections to the Reglamento Interno:
The personnel delegate, union organization, and any worker can object the code or the rules contained in it which they deem unlawful, by presenting it before the Labor Office or the respective health authority. These public entities can then demand modifications to the Reglamento Interno if they also deem it unlawful. They can also demand that the company includes the minimum legal requirements if it lacks one or more of them.
Sanctions for the Employer:
If the company does not have a Reglamento Interno, and should, the Labor Office can penalize or sanction said company with a fine. Also, the employer cannot enforce sanctions, penalizations, or procedures, if there is no Reglamento Interno in place.
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