Given the accelerated global impact that the proliferation of the COVID-19 virus has generated, the need has arisen for organizations and work centers to implement preventive measures, where clear action protocols are established. On Thursday March 12, BLP held the webinar “Consejos legales para enfrentar al Coronavirus”, to share the fundamental aspects that your company must take into consideration, as coronavirus outbreak grows in Costa Rica. Watch the full video at this link.

According to the General Guidelines for owners and administrators of Work Centers for Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), dictated by the Ministry of Health in Costa Rica, and from an organizational perspective, such prevention measures are oriented from the following perspectives:

1.-Health and occupational health:

– Organizations are responsible to attend to the sanitary guidelines that are defined by the local authorities.

– A specific protocol that establishes preventive measures and dealing with cases of suspicion, applicable to both clients and collaborators must be defined by the organizations.

-Timely reports to health authorities about suspicious cases.

– Facilitate work center staff access to health services if there are suspicious symptoms.

2.-Management of labor relations in cases of suspicion or detection of cases of infection:

– If an employee has a cold or other suspicious symptom, assess the application of mitigation measures such as:

a.- Suspension with the enjoyment of salary (company´s request).

b.- Suspension without salary enjoyment (employee´s request).

c.- Granting of vacations (employee’s request).

– Comply with the licensing or disability measures determined by the health authorities, which warrant compulsory quarantines, thus suspending the employment relationship.

– Implementation of working from home protocols and the use of electronic and computer devices. In this case, it is necessary to assess and define in detail the nature of the employment that allows for the remote execution of the work without implying a negative effect on the organization´s operability.

– If the nature of the work is incompatible with remote performance, the employer must choose to grant a permit with wage enjoyment until the risk or danger is discarded.

– Ensure that discriminatory attitudes do not develop toward people who have had cold symptoms or who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

3.- Possible emergencies due to circumstances of serious and imminent risk:

– Proceed to suspend workplace labor, which must necessarily be approved by the Ministry of Labor.

– Cease work activities and close the work center, in response to local government emergency decrees.

4.-Possible disciplinary repercussions:

– In cases of obstruction or manifest refusal to adopt the preventive measures and procedures to be followed by the employer, the imposition of disciplinary sanctions may proceed.

Considering the yellow alert that has been decreed in the country, it is highly recommended that organizations limit travel to reduce risks of contagion, and when convenient to hold meetings through digital tools, such as videoconferences or phone calls.

Given the imminent danger posed by the spread of  COVID-19, a multitude of situations can arise with repercussions for labor relations which will require individualized attention from a legal perspective.