#CostaRica 🇨🇷 #ArticleBDS: Five changes leading us to the “new normal” in labor matters post Covid-19

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No one knows exactly when this crisis will come to an end; regulations and recommendations issued by Governments, institutions and specialized agencies change on an everyday basis. Despite this, there is one sure thing, life goes on and different social players must be aware of this and well prepared for any changes that will be necessary to adjust to a “new reality”.
 
Some of the most important changes in labor matters for the application of this “new reality” include:
 
1. The new legal frameworks should be adjusted to the reality that companies and workers are facing.
 
The enactment of important regulations within a short period (which would seem like a record for some of you) has allowed companies to be able to navigate through this economic situation and avoid adopting most drastic measures such as the termination of thousands of employees which otherwise would have happened without the “Law for the Authorization of Reduced Work Shifts in Light of the National Emergency Declaration” and the “Regulation on the Employment Agreement Suspension in cases related to sections (a) and (v) of Article 74 of the Labor Code”.
 
The enactment of such regulations was not one-way intended, but also aimed to ensure that workers affected by palliative measures adopted by companies may have a financial aid to face the crisis, which is why the aforementioned instruments were enacted to provide financial relief to these workers.
 
On the other hand, health authorities have enacted the necessary guidelines to be able to define many lines of action to be followed at workplaces to ensure continuity.
 
Lastly, we have the role of companies which have been required to issue or change staff management internal regulations; telework contracts, health protocols, as well as any personal data documentation. This has been vital for companies to remain operational after over two months following the first active COVID-19 case in the country.

2. New work modalities should be implemented in order to continue with the provision of services; the telework case.

Many companies used the pandemic as a trial period for this model, and many of them will keep it after this crisis.

For the appropriate implementation of this modality, a number of key aspects should be reminded: participation is voluntary and revocable; companies should perform an assessment of the positions that may qualify for telework; the relevant policy must be issued; a telework agreement must be executed or either an addendum to the employment agreement; and the appropriate supervision and oversight methods should also be defined as well as internal procedures for each of the companies, based on their needs.

Finally, it should be noted that employment relationships remain active and actions carried out by workers may still result in disciplinary procedures and/or penalties.

3. Change internal procedures of companies.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many internal procedures at companies have changed. Some of these include:

Changes in communication processes: COVID-19 led to the normalization of online and telematic platforms for staff communications. The crisis caused all workers to understand the need to communicate through these channels.

Changes in recruitment processes: Recruitment processes are no longer what they used to. Now, they are conducted almost entirely by electronic means. Having said that, a number of elements should be considered in order to properly perform said “telematic” recruitment processes: i) there are data protection issues, ii) discrimination should be avoided, and iii) these processes have the same validity and effects as those conducted face-to-face.

Changes in internal processes: Disciplinary, feedback, documentation or information requests, supervision and employee exit procedures are some of the processes that have undergone more changes. Even though we can elaborate further on these procedures, the important thing here is to implement said changes in the right way and always consulting your trusted advisor, since they have the same validity and potentially the same consequences or lead to the same claims as regular or face-to-face modalities.

4. Confidentiality and data protection are given more relevance.

Following the application of alternative models such as telework or the application of measures to keep your company data safe, e.g. employee information; companies are giving more relevance to confidentiality and data protection issues.

Thus, internal regulations and legal documentation have been issued to protect the confidential nature of said information as set forth in Article 7 of the Non-Disclosure Information Act, which is highly valuable for companies.

5. Compliance programs have been established in connection with occupational health, hygiene, and risks issues.

Many companies have established compliance programs in connection with occupational health, hygiene, and risks; as well as the issue of internal guidelines and regulations for purposes of complying with international and local regulations on these matters.

The incorporation of these changes and the severity in the application of compliance and risk management programs will survive even after the pandemic. Many companies, which lacked a compliance department to date, are creating such departments and those with preexisting ones are growing.

These are changes that from the author’s perspective have been notably observed and that will remain as lessons learnt for companies once the effects from COVID-19 have finally passed.

Collaboration by our lawyer: Javier Guerrero Álvarez / jguerrero@bdsasesores.com

If you have any questions please email us at: digital@bdsasesores.com, indicating the country about which you are submitting your query.

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