Chile: The Labor Directorate issues opinions on “Karin Law” procedures in companies

Law No. 21,643, published on January 15, 2024, amends the Chilean Labor Code to incorporate the standards of ILO Convention No. 190 on violence and harassment at work, ratified by the State of Chile. Known as the “Karin Law,” the regulation introduces important changes in the areas of workplace harassment, sexual harassment, and violence.

The Law establishes two basic fundamental principles:

1. violence-free treatment: all types of violence in the labor relationship are prohibited, defining violence as behaviors or threats that may cause physical, psychological, sexual, or economic harm, including gender-based violence and harassment.

2. Gender perspective: Labor relations must be analyzed considering an asymmetrical power structure that assigns differential values and positions to each sex, structuring a system of power relations.

Employers are obliged to ensure a respectful and non-discriminatory work environment, especially about gender, through internal policies that promote an organizational culture free of violence.

What are the Law’s definitions of sexual harassment, workplace harassment, and workplace violence?

Sexual Harassment: The Law maintains the definition of sexual harassment as any non-consensual request of a sexual nature that threatens or harms the employment situation of the recipient. Harassment can manifest itself in various forms, including verbal advances, e-mails, and physical contact, and must be recognized as gender-based violence.

Workplace Harassment: The main modification is the elimination of the requirement to repeat the conduct as a reason to consider workplace harassment. Now, a single physical or moral aggression may constitute workplace harassment, provided that it causes impairment, mistreatment, or humiliation, including the creation of a hostile and offensive environment.

Workplace Violence by Third Parties: This concept covers violent conduct by persons outside the employment relationship, such as customers or suppliers. Violence can be physical or psychological, and the employer must take measures to protect workers, including protocols for action in situations of violence.

What does the Law oblige workers and employers to do?

Workers can demand measures to prevent, investigate, and sanction harassment and violence.

Employers must prevent, investigate, and sanction:

1. Prevent: Develop a prevention protocol that includes identification of dangers, control measures, information and training to workers, and safeguarding the privacy and honor of those involved.

2. Investigate: Incorporate an investigation procedure in the Internal Rules of Order, Hygiene, and Safety, and ensure that complaints are handled with strict confidentiality and that both parties are heard.

3. Sanction: Apply corrective measures and sanctions according to the merit of the investigation within the established deadlines.

How is the investigation procedure carried out in the event of a complaint?

Workers may make the complaint in writing or verbally. Once received, the employer must take protective measures and conduct the investigation, which must be concluded within 30 days. The conclusions must be sent to the Labor Inspectorate for its pronouncement.

Modification in Acts of Discrimination

The Law expands the grounds for discrimination recognized in Article 2 of the Labor Code to include any other unspecified grounds.

Effective date

The Law will enter into force on August 1, 2024. Employers must adapt their internal regulations before this date. Otherwise, the Labor Directorate will develop the investigative process.

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