40-hour working week will be law! Learn the details of the bill promoted by the Government that has been dispatched by Congress
The initiative, which will improve the quality of life for workers and their families, reduces the number of working hours for all jobs regulated by the Labor Code.
The 40-hour working week is now a reality. The Chamber of Deputies approved this Tuesday, April 11 the bill to reduce the working hours of workers whose jobs are regulated by the Labor Code, thus fulfilling all legislative procedures. So, what now? In the next few days, President Gabriel Boric will sign its promulgation for subsequent publication in the Official Gazette.
And, with this, Chilean workers and their families will be able to celebrate a reduced working week on May 1, International Workers’ Day.
The 40-Hour Law modifies the Labor Code to reduce the regular working week from 45 to 40 hours a week. It will come into effect gradually and responsibly, so as not to affect employment and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It also provides a greater effective rest period to those working special regimes, such as private home workers, and exceptional regimes that require continuous operational processes, such as mining.
It also establishes social co-responsibility measures that will make it possible to reconcile working life with personal and family life.
The original bill was submitted in 2017 by the current Minister Secretary General of the Government, Camila Vallejo, and member of Congress, Karol Cariola. It was approved by the Chamber of Deputies in 2019 and had not made significant progress in the Senate since then.
Given that it was one of the commitments of President Gabriel Boric’s program, in August 2022 the Government submitted a series of amendments to reactivate the bill. These amendments came out of a process of social dialogue that included more than 200 social organizations from all regions of Chile. Political dialogue subsequently took place in Congress, which allowed a transversal agreement to be reached for its approval.
What does the 40-Hour Law establish?
- The law reduces the ordinary working week from 45 to 40 hours in the following way: from 45 to 44 hours in the first year after the law is published; to 42 hours the third year; and to 40 hours the fifth year. These are maximum deadlines, as any employer who wants to can reduce the working day to 40 hours without waiting for the official timeframe. In fact, the 40-Hours Seal has already been awarded to companies that have reduced their working hours before the law is published.
- It also regulates special regimes. Although there are various categories, one of the most common is that of private home workers. In the case of workers residing in their own homes, the reduction to 40 hours per week will operate according to the ordinary working day. In the case of workers residing in the homes of their employers, the current system is maintained, with a minimum rest period of 12 hours per day, but compensated with two additional days of rest per month in order to achieve the reduction. These days can be accumulated by mutual agreement for a period of up to three months, thus guaranteeing effective rest time.
- Furthermore, for exceptional regimes that require continuous operational processes such as mining, employers will be allowed to compensate employees who exceed 40 hours per week with additional annual rest days.
- The law establishes co-responsibility mechanisms, such as time bands, which allow different entry and exit times so that parents and caregivers of children under 12 years of age can bring forward or back their start and/or departure time at work. This will allow them to better reconcile school schedules with their working day. Another co-responsibility mechanism is the possibility of compensating overtime for up to five additional days of holiday.
- It also allows the ordinary working day to be distributed in four days of work for three of rest, known as 4x3. The companies that implement the 40-hour working week without waiting for the gradual reduction can also apply the 4x3 working week in advance, in agreement with workers.
- Taking into account the idiosyncrasies of the world of work, the law includes specific support actions for SMEs via two decentralized technical services: the National Training and Employment Service (SENCE) and the Labor Directorate.
- Exclusion from the 40-hour working week of article 22, paragraph 2 of the Labor Code is restricted only to those who perform senior management roles and those who are not subject to superior oversight in accordance with the nature of their duties.
- The law also allows working week averaging, which offers the possibility of agreeing with the worker that they fulfil the ordinary 40-hour working week as an average over up to four weeks, with a maximum limit of 45 hours per week. The worker must not exceed 40 hours for more than two weeks, and the average of 40 hours per week must be respected. If the worker is unionized, prior agreement with the union will be required.