Written by Rodrigo Cortes (Senior Employment Lawyer) and Ian Cardenas (Paralegal)
On Wednesday 26 April, Law No. 21.561 that “Modifies the Labour Code with the aim of reducing the working day”, also known colloquially as the 40-hour law, was published in the Chilean Official Gazette. The law makes significant changes to the current labour legislation, the most significant of which are as follows:
Reduction of the ordinary working day
Ordinary working time will be reduced from 45 to 40 hours per week. The change will be phased in progressively over 5 years after the publication of the law: in the first year of the law, the ordinary working time will be reduced to 44 hours; in the third year to 42 hours; and, at the fifth year, to 40 hours.
Flexibility in the distribution of working hours
The law stipulates that the 40-hour working time may be spread out by week or by weekly averages over periods of up to 4 weeks. In the latter case, the weekly limit is extended to 45 hours which cannot be applied for more than 2 consecutive weeks in the cycle.
Likewise, it is established that ordinary working time can be spread over 4, 5 or 6 days, allowing a 4×3 working time without the authorization of the Dirección del Trabajo. This modification will come into force five years after the publication of the law in the Official Gazette, unless the company reduces the ordinary working time to 40 hours or less before that deadline, in which case the company can start making this change as soon as it complies with that limit.
Limit to the application of Article 22
Article 22 of the Labour Code is changed, limiting the grounds for which a worker can be excluded from the working time limit. According to the law, the exclusion from working time limit will only be allowed for workers who perform services as directors, managers, representatives with management powers and all those who work without direct supervision due to the nature of their duties. This change will be in force one year after the publication of the law.
Parents and carers of children up to 12 years of age
Persons taking care of children up to 12 years of age will be entitled to a range of 2 hours in total, whereby they may bring forward or delay their start and end of the working time by up to one hour. This change will be implemented one year after the publication of the law in the Official Gazette.
Exceptional working time
The law establishes that within a period of 6 months, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare should make a regulation that will set the limits and criteria for the distribution of extraordinary working and rest time systems.
Only special systems whose average weekly hours are up to 42 hours will be allowed, with a special form of compensation for the hours in the cycle that exceed the average of 40 hours.
Special systems authorised before the law came into force will remain in force until their termination, but any interested party may apply to the Dirección del Trabajo to change the system in accordance with the ordinary working time limit in force at the given time.
Exchange of overtime for days off
By written agreement between the parties, overtime worked may be exchanged for up to 5 additional days of holiday per year. For every extra hour worked, one and a half hours of holiday will be given. This change will be implemented within one year of the publication of the law in the Official Gazette.
Attendance register control
Electronic systems are officially included among the working time control alternatives. In this sense, a resolution of the Dirección del Trabajo will establish the conditions and requirements to be followed by electronic time and attendance recording and control systems, which must be the same for the same activity. This change will be in force one year after the publication of the law in the Official Gazette.
The modifications introduced by the law aims to improve the quality of life of workers in Chile, serving as an incentive to promote rest and family leisure activities.
If you have any questions, please contact the HGG Labour team.