Chile amends labor legislation to strengthen the norms against harassment and violence in the workplace.

The law enacted on January 5 is part of the process of ratifying Convention 190 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) signed by the state of Chile. It aims to improve the procedures for the prevention, investigation, and sanctioning of labor-based inequalities, sexual harassment, and violence at work. Its entry into force is effective from the first day of the sixth month after its publication in the official gazette (Ley 21643). It is not retroactive (i.e., it does not apply to cases initiated before the law entered into force).

The regulation modifies the labor code and other legal bodies under the premise that labor relations must always be based on treatment free of violence, compatible with the person’s dignity, and with a gender perspective. This obligation applies to private sector companies and state entities, as it modifies administrative statutes.

Some of the main modifications of the law are as follows.

Labor harassment is defined as “any conduct of aggression or harassment exercised by the employer, or by one or more workers, against another or other workers, by any means, whether it is manifested once or repeatedly, and which results in the impairment, mistreatment, or humiliation, or threatens or harms the employment situation or employment opportunities of the affected person.” In this situation, the condition of reiteration is eliminated. Sexual harassment is redefined as “any demands of a sexual nature.”

The concept of “violence in the workplace exercised by third parties” is established, including all conduct with a harmful effect on workers by clients, suppliers, or users, among others, during the provision of services.

The employer must have a protocol for preventing, investigating, and punishing workplace harassment cases. In some cases, the company may fall into the category of not being obliged to have an internal regulation of order, hygiene, and safety. In that case, it must inform its employees about the prevention protocol and the investigation and sanction procedure when signing the employment contract. If the company has an internal regulation of order, hygiene, and safety, it must be modified to incorporate the new conduct of sexual harassment, labor harassment, and violence.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare will issue a regulation with guidelines to contemplate the investigations in case of labor harassment. The employer, with merit to the investigation report of labor and sexual harassment, has 15 days from its receipt to execute the corresponding measures and sanctions, which must be informed in the same terms as the parties involved. If, in addition, the situation constitutes a possible crime, the employer must notify the complainant of the channels for filing a complaint with the prosecutor’s office, public prosecutor’s office, or other.

In the case of an employee sanctioned with dismissal after an investigation report, he/she has the right to challenge the resolution before the competent court. It must provide the necessary evidence to disprove the facts or background in the report of the employer or the labor inspectorate.

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