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Chile: 40-hour workday bill progress in Congress

On April 4th, 2023, the House of Representatives approved and sent off the bill which will be publish and become law in the following weeks. The recently approved bill reduces the length of the working day, among other matters.

The content of the approved bill has the following highlights:

The ordinary workweek is reduced from 45 to 40 hours. The reduction will be implemented gradually as of the law is published. After 1 year it comes into effect, the workday shall be reduced to 44 hours; after 3 years the legal workweek limit will be 42 hours and the 40 hours goal will be reached 5 years as firm the date the law comes into effect.

The current bill  provides some flexibility measures to the workweek, such as: (i) it may be distributed in a minimum of 4 days and a maximum of 6; and (ii) 40- hour average can be achieved in a 4 weeks’ cycle, which allows a workweek between 40 and 45 hours in the following 2 weeks (as for unionized employees the limit can be raise to 52 hours, provided the union’s agreement).

As for exceptional distribution of working hours granted by the Department of Labor, the current scheme of an average of 42 hours weekly working hours is kept, but the two hours in excess of 40, must be compensated by additional annual rest days. This scheme considers both the authorization of the labor authority and the union agreement of all unionized employees.

The bill also provides some measures to improve work and family life balance, such as: (i) Overtime may be compensated with additional vacation days (up to 5 per year) or in cash (with a 50% surcharge) provided the parties agree upon it; and (ii) employees that have children under 12 years of age or have their personal care, may request their employer to move forwards or delay the start of their working day by up to one hour, provided some requirements are met.

Also, employees that may be excluded from the limitation of working hours are restricted to exclusively those rendering services as managers, administrators, and representatives with administrative faculties and those who work without immediate superior supervision due to the nature of the work. In case of controversy, the Department of Labor will resolve whether that employee is in any of these situations. That resolution may be appealed before a labor court.

Some of the changes are meant to come into effect one year after the bill come into effect as law. Therefore, the bill content is not meant to be gradually applicable as a whole.