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ECONOMY | 01-08-2020 09:49

Congress approves law to regulate teleworking

Senate grants passage to legislation laying down rules for workers and employers in post-pandemic future , mostly along party lines.

The Senate passed a law to regulate conditions for teleworking on Thursday in an appropriate remote session.

The legislation, which had already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, won 40 votes in favour (primarily from the ruling coalition) and 30 against (mainly from the opposition). In the lower house, the measure won 214 votes in favour, with one against and 29 abstentions.

The new law will kick in 90 days after the end of the restrictions put in place to tackle the spread of Covid-19 in Argentina, amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Teleworking – variously referred to as telecommuting, working from home and remote online work – allows employees not to travel to their workplace and to complete their tasks from another location, normally their homes. The legislation voted for on Thursday lays out the rights of those who work from home and obligations for their employers – for example, an employee’s salary may not be lowered, should they reach an agreement to work from home. 

A decision to take up remote working must be voluntary and an employee has the right to return to their workplace under the previous conditions, should they change their mind. 

Companies must also provide the necessary equipment, work tools and support and bear the cost of installation, maintenance and repair of that which is supplied. Employers must also compensate for expenses incurred, such as Internet connectivity and consumption of basic services.

"A cornerstone of the project is the right to rest and disconnection [from work] outside of working hours," said Senator Mariano Recalde, a centre-left Peronist leader, during the debate.

The law also lays out rules for data protection and prevents the use of surveillance software on computers and telephones that violate the privacy of the worker, among other points.

Teleworking was, until recently, not highly adopted in Argentina, but its take up has surged amid the coronavirus pandemic and its accompanying lockdown measures. Some analysts have suggested it will remain highly popular in the post-pandemic future. 

Prior to the arrival of Covid-19 in Argentina, only two percent of the country’s formal workforce carried out tasks remotely, according to a study by the International Academy for the Transformation of Work for Latin America and the Caribbean. During the pandemic, that figure has risen to almost 37 percent, the organisation says.

The bill won support from trade unions.

– TIMES/AFP/NA

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