1. Minimum Working Conditions
In Argentina, minimum working conditions are established by public order provisions, CBAs and statutes. These conditions must be respected and they cannot be modified unless such modification is addressed to benefit the employee to a greater extent.
A minimum wage has been established and is adjusted over time. As from June 1, 2016, Minimum Wage (NMW) is currently equivalent to ARS 6,810/USD 454 (current exchange rate ARS 1 = USD 15) per month regardless of age or seniority of the employee. The NMW will increase to ARS 7,560 (approx. USD 504) as of September 1, 2016, and to ARS 8,060 (approx. USD 537) as of January 1, 2017.
However, such minimum wage is generally exceeded by the basic salaries established in the collective bargaining agreements applicable to the employer’s activity. These basic salaries vary from one activity to another.
Where a special situation exists and with the consent of the labour authority, the parties can agree to a salary that may be less than the NMW. The special situations are those in which a reduction in the maximum legal working time exists by law or by CBA.
Exceptions to the rule:
Part-time workers and apprentices can be paid less than the minimum wage. The remuneration of part-time workers cannot be less than the proportional that corresponds to a full-time worker in the same category, established by law or collective agreement. If this ratio exceeds agreed working hours, the employer must pay the remuneration payable to a full-time worker.
In addition to this, employees are entitled to a statutory annual bonus, the “SAC”. It is paid in two (2) semi-annual installments, falling due on June 30 and December 18, each installment being equal to fifty (50%) of the highest monthly salary accrued during the corresponding semester.
3. Maximum Working Week
The normal working hours for employees and workers are limited to eight (8) hours per day or forty (48) hours per week. However, there are some exceptions:
- Night work is limited to seven (7) hours.
- Unhealthy work is allowed only up to six (6) hours per day or thirty-six (36) hours per week.
- Team work has a specific system – limited to one hundred and forty- four (144) hours in
a three (3) week period.
Overtime cannot exceed three (3) hours per day, thirty (30) hours per month or two hundred (200) hours per year (unless the employer obtains an authorization from the Ministry of Labour). It is not applied to the public employees. If the overtime exceeds these limits, fines are applicable.
Majority case law, following the leading case “Guzzo, Luciano v. Sign Publicidad S.R.L.” (2008), has ruled that – unless the legally permitted exceptions apply – when the employee works over nine (9) hours per day – even when he does not exceed forty eight (48) hours a week – it has to be considered as overtime and it has to be calculated from this time.
It is important to note that overtime is an exception and the employee is not obliged to provide services except in cases of force majeure.
Senior executives and general managers are not covered by the overtime rules.
Overtime hours cannot be performed by part-time workers or those who render unhealthy services.
Employees are entitled to an annual vacation period when their services with their employer have been rendered for over six (6) months. Vacations are compulsory and the employer must grant them between October 1 and April 30; its duration ranges from fourteen (14) running days for employees with less than five (5) years of service, up to thirty – five (35) running days for those with over twenty (20) years of service, unless increased benefits are established in the applicable collective bargaining agreement or in the employment agreement.
In addition, national holidays must be observed and the corresponding salary should be paid twice whenever services are actually performed during those days.
6. Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace
The employer has a general duty of safety and security. Among other things, it means the employer is responsible for providing decent working conditions in a healthy and safe environment for all employees. Also, employees must comply with the rules about health and safety at the workplace, such as providing appropriate clothing for the activity or the right working tools.
Furthermore, an employer’s duty to provide a healthy working environment now extends to preventing any damage to employees’ psychological health.
Indeed, recent case law and doctrine have showed that the scope of the employer’s duty of safety, include not only the obligation to take all measures necessary to protect employees’ physical health but also those related to their mental and physiological health. In view of this, the employer has the obligation to provide a healthy workplace free of hostilities.