COVID-19: Legal Provisions in Honduras
By means of PCM-021-2020, the constitutional guarantees established in Articles 69, 71, 72, 78, 81, 84, 93, 99 and 103 of the Constitution of the Republic, relating to personal freedom, freedom of association, assembly and movement, were restricted to the municipalities of San Pedro Sula, Puerto Cortés, Santa Cruz, Choluteca, Central District and La Ceiba, for a period of 7 days from the publication of the same.
This deadline has now been extended to 29 March this year, and may be extended for a further period if the authorities consider it relevant and applicable at national level.
In addition to the above, the specific prohibitions are:
- Work in the public and private sectors is suspended during the period of the exemption;
- Events of any type and number of persons are prohibited;
- Suspension of the operation of public transport;
- Suspension of face-to-face religious celebrations;
- The operation of businesses including shopping centers is prohibited;
- Orders the closure of all air, land and sea borders in the national territory
The exceptions to the cases described above are for the purchase of food, pharmaceuticals and basic necessities, and assistance to health centres, services and establishments.
Below is the link where you can find the complete decree:
Authorization to operate
The Secretariat of State in the Office of Economic Development has enabled the email comité.firstname.lastname@example.org for the submission of applications for authorization to operate and to transit public roads.
The companies are implementing the modality of teleworking by which the workers carry out their functions from their homes, so as not to stop the activities of the company.
When working under this modality, it is very important that workers are guided by the highest standards of responsibility and confidentiality.
Holidays and reduction of wages/workdays
Labour legislation does not provide for the possibility of reduced working hours and/or wages due to force majeure. Legally, no amount can be withheld or deducted from a worker’s salary without his prior written consent.
Under labour law, employers cannot force their employees to take leave. Even when workers are on vacation, their monthly salary must be paid in full.
However, both situations (reduction of working hours and/or wages and holidays) can be agreed with the workers by mutual agreement so that neither party is seriously affected given the situation in the country. According to the Labor Code, any act of compensation, liquidation, transaction or agreement between employer and worker must be made before the corresponding labor authorities. Therefore, such agreement must be duly notified to the Secretariat of Labor and Social Security.
Suspension of employment contracts
Article 100(b) of the Labour Code provides for the suspension of employment contracts on grounds of force majeure or fortuitous event. The total or partial suspension of work contracts does not imply their termination nor does it extinguish the rights and obligations arising from them, as regards the return to work and continuity of the contract; and it may affect all the contracts in force in a company or only part of them.
The suspension of contracts takes effect from the conclusion of the day on which the event giving rise to it occurred, provided that it is duly requested and authorized by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, within three (3) days following the aforementioned.
Likewise, it is recommended that the application be submitted via e-mails email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, which will be channeled by COHEP to be presented to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security and its subsequent application in person once the suspension of constitutional rights and guarantees contemplated in PCM- 021-2020 and/or any agreement approved a posteriori has been completed.
Suspension in cases of Defined Time Contracts and Hourly Employment
If a fixed-term contract/hourly employment expires during the curfew, it is understood that it has been legally terminated and there will be no obligation to continue it, and the employer must pay the corresponding salary as contractually agreed.
However, it must be considered that there is a contingency that the employee hired under the indicated modality can claim before the Ministry of Labor that his contract should have been suspended by virtue of numeral 2 of Article 100 of the Labor Code, which regulates the suspension in cases of force majeure or fortuitous case in order to preserve the labor benefits during the suspension, such as the medical coverage of the Honduran Institute of Social Security.
To date, the government has not made any pronouncements on labour suspensions, but it may, as in cases of past crises, later establish provisions on this subject that will benefit the worker.
*Note: On March 20, the President of the Republic announced on a national channel a plan to keep jobs that will be announced in the coming days, so that sui generis labor measures may be adopted in response to the global crisis we are experiencing.
Ricardo Duarte Jiménez
García & Bodán