Home office in times of Coronavirus

Mariana Pereira – Partner

The measures of social distancing adopted around the world activated the need to implement “Home Office” in companies in order to stay on track.

As of the day this article was published, Bolivia has 441 confirmed cases and 29 deaths from coronavirus. The latest report from the Health Authority indicates that Santa Cruz concentrates 49% of infections nationwide with 215 confirmed cases, La Paz with 101 cases, Cochabamba with 59, Potosi with 15,Pando 11,  Oruro  37, Tarija  2 and Chuquisaca 1, while Beni, to date, no cases have been reported. This puts Bolivia into phase 3 of contagion, making the disease still traceable and controllable. The problem is how quickly the virus spreads and multiplies.

In view of this situation, the National Government and the Departmental and Municipal Governments have established total quarantine, the main measure of prevention and containment of COVID-19, which involves a series of exceptional situations such as the closure of borders, prohibition of circulation to public and private transport and the closure of companies throughout the national territory (except for those of first necessity).

Therefore, in view of the imminent prohibitions that the quarantine determines, what is recommended for companies is to have documented procedures to socialize among their staff in such a way that they manage to respond, recover, resume and restore the predefined level of operation during and after an interruption like the one we are experiencing, and in this way, ensure that the negative impact is the least possible for the organization.

Taking in consideration this new reality, the Bolivian Government enacted the Supreme Decree No. 4218 that regulates the Home Office regime in the country.

This regulation defines Home Office work as “a modality of the labor relationship or provision of services which consists of performing paid activities using technologies where the physical presence of the home office worker is not required, as long as the nature and needs of the work permits to do so”.

In this sense, Supreme Decree No. 4218 establishes that the obligations of the employer to the home office employee are to: (i) provide the home office employee the equipment and software required for the adequate execution of the hired services; (ii) train the home office worker for the adequate use of the equipment and software required for the performance of their functions and, (iii) establish means of communication and guidelines in order to track the assigned tasks.