Under Law No 21.342, any employer seeking to return to on-site work, must have an Occupational Health and Safety Covid-19 Protocol plan in place, with some mandatory regulations.
Santiago’s Court of Appeals denied a recourse seeking to reverse a ruling of the First Labour Court of Santiago. The first-degree Court rejected an unjustified dismissal claim by a former employee.
In this case, the former employee went to work on 3 January 2021, despite being in close contact with a suspected Covid-19 infected person. The employer terminated the employment with cause, based on reckless acts or negligence that can put the health of other employees in danger. According to this dismissal ground, the employee was not entitled to any severance payment.
The Court declared that the dismissal was justified, since the company had provided and informed all its employees about the protocols in the event that they should have close contact with someone who is possibly infected with the coronavirus. Under said protocol, any employee in this situation is required to self-quarantine until a positive Covid-19 test result is ruled out.
Therefore, the Court concluded that the employee was duly informed of the preventive actions included in the company’s protocol policy and failed to comply with them, and, consequently, compromised the health of the other employees.
This ruling stands out for the fact that it considers non-compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Covid-19 Protocol plan as sufficient grounds for a justified dismissal.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel
Review the internal sanction process when Covid-19 protocol procedures are breached.