Employment 2021 Comparisons

Last Updated September 07, 2021

Law and Practice

Authors



CARRASCO FIRMA DE ABOGADOS specialises in labour law and provides support and advice in both administrative and contentious issues. In recent years, the firm has managed to expand its services in order to include corporate, commercial, civil, administrative, IP and litigation law. Personalised advice, as well as the adoption of preventative and timely legal strategies in the event of controversy, has allowed Carrasco to become one of the main law firms for companies and entities in Bolivia. The firm has offices in the cities of La Paz and Santa Cruz.

In Bolivia, starting in March 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, measures were taken to avoid contagion and then, in the main sectors, to counter the adverse effects caused. The measures imposed have had a significant impact on economic and financial areas and, as a consequence, on the continuity and treatment of labour relations.

Remote Work

As a result, some scenarios were introduced, such as those related to the suspension of labour contracts or labour relationships without this representing the employee losing their rights. On this line, and as a means of generating alternatives to diminish the effects of the complete quarantine, one of the main initiatives introduced to the Bolivian labour provisions has been the development of remote work (Teletrabajo), through Executive Decree No 4218 of 14 April 2020, the goal of which is to “regulate remote work as a special mode to provide services characterised by the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) in the public and private sectors”, and later regulated by a resolution issued by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision, RM 220/20 of 24 April 2020.

Remote work is incorporated as one of the solutions to overcome the problems and obstacles raised at the beginning of the pandemic, essentially with the measures imposed by the complete and dynamic quarantines ordered by the government and in search of continuing the development of the economy and labour while achieving labour and social protection for workers.

Essentially, in Bolivia, this measure was enforced to continue with labour relations, the execution of work and the subordination of employees without a physical presence in the company or entity, using as support the means of information and communication in order to honour the obligations of both parties, generating new mechanisms of control and monitoring the performance of work.

Remote work in the Bolivian legislation was not regulated, despite that in other countries, due to technological progress in services and changes to organisational strategies, these were already being applied or were at least under development.

The regulations issued in this country mention two modes of remote work: permanent and temporary, with either mode being formalised and, as a consequence, defined by the labour contract or, eventually, if a contract is under way, by the corresponding amendment.

Regarding the workday, under the scope of private labour relations, the regulation establishes application of the workdays mandated by the General Labour Law (eight hours daily, 48 hours weekly for men and 40 hours weekly for women), setting obligations for the employer in order to facilitate the necessary means for the development of this mode, especially regarding equipment and software, the obligation to train for the proper use of the tools that the employee shall use in remote work, establishing formal channels of communication, and the corresponding monitoring of work.

Under the principle of reciprocity of obligations, an employee commits to, essentially, following all the protocols that may have been implemented to safeguard the employer’s information in order to ensure absolute confidentiality, taking responsibility for equipment under their custody, being obligated to report to the employer when the equipment and/or software under their custody suffers any damage; is lost; or is the object of theft, destruction or any other event that prevents further use.

Workday Hours

As the complete quarantine has been eased through later executive decrees that established the different categories of high, medium and low risks, aiming to enter a dynamic quarantine and to resume labour activities in person, the need to reduce the number of hours in a workday was identified, and therefore the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision regulated the entrance and exit times in the public sector at the central level of the state and for autonomous territorial entities, within their jurisdictions, and the entrance and exit times in the private sector, observing the provisions established by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision. Additionally, alternation with remote work was authorised, according to the work conditions, number of employees and, in certain cases, as a preferred option for certain sectors.

Later, during the so-called post-confinement stage, regulations were adopted establishing workdays for the public and private sectors as continuous workdays according to the nature of their function, detailing that entrance and exit times would continue to be staggered in order to avoid agglomerations. Said provision has modified the criteria and form to apply the discontinuous workday.

Biosafety Measures

Parallel to these initiatives was the mandatory application of biosafety measures that translated mainly into the mandatory, continuous and adequate use of facemasks, handwash, physical distancing and other measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19, as well as the mandatory presentation of specific biosafety measures adjusted to each entity’s characteristics in the public and private sectors.

The containment measures shall continue having effects on all sectors, whether large or small scale, according to their duration, and therefore outlasting these measures and the economic crisis will continue to present a challenge to employers and employees in Bolivia.

The use of digital technologies and the transformation of the workplace shall continue, taking into account that it attenuates the impact of COVID-19.

It is important to continue developing labour regulations and provisions in technological areas for the use and promotion of information and communication technologies in order to achieve their effective, dynamic and safe use, along with continuous training of employees to guarantee social and labour rights, regardless of the work performed.

In Bolivia, a series of measures have been taken by the central government upon identifying the threat of COVID-19, which later involved regional and municipal governments.

The measures were focused on four major areas: sanitary, education, labour and the economy.

Sanitary

  • Public entities, such as the Ministry of Public Health, and short-term insurance, etc obtained exceptional authorisation to directly purchase medicaments, medical devices and supplies, reagents, medical equipment and consultancy services for healthcare personnel, and the prevention, control and attention of healthcare emergencies of international importance caused by COVID-19 – Executive Decree 4174 of 4 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • Declaration of a national emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak and other adverse effects – Executive Decree 4179 of 12 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • Suspension of direct flights to and from Europe from 14 until 31 March 2020 – Executive Decree 4190 of 13 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • Continuous labour hours established from 8am to 4pm, except for the healthcare sector; social, cultural, sport and religious meetings with over 100 persons are forbidden; activities and events in discotheques, bars, theatres, sports facilities, gyms and amusement parks are suspended; the arrival of passengers from the Schengen airspace, United Kingdom, Ireland, Iran, China and South Korea, except returning Bolivians; and a decrease in import tax to 0 for supplies, medicaments, medical devices, equipment, reagents and fibre detectors related to COVID-19 until 31 December 2020 – Executive Decree 4192 of 16 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • Declaration of a national sanitary emergency and quarantine throughout the national territory until 31 March 2020, including a prohibition to circulate, and stay at home orders from 5pm until 5am the next day, with some exceptions, such as public and private health services, the Bolivian police, the armed forces and other companies or institutions and industries that, by the very nature of their functions, must perform activities in said timeslots, and force majeure. Customer attention during the day was regulated, with a prohibition on meetings and activities, the closure of borders, the suspension of travel, exceptional workdays limited to five hours, the allocation of appropriate and sufficient hygienic material, the adoption of cleaning protocols and the issuance of special licences to people with existing comorbidities, adults over 60 years old, pregnant women and parents or tutors in charge of minors under 5 years old – Executive Decree 4196 of 17 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • To declare a complete quarantine for the entire territory of the Plurinational State of Bolivia starting at 12am of Sunday 22 March 2020 until Saturday 4 April 2020, keeping the exceptionalities of Executive Decree 4196, but forbidding absolutely the circulation of vehicles without special authorisation from the competent authority, and carrying firearms, cold steel or explosive material – Executive Decree 4199 of 21 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • An extension of the complete quarantine until 15 April 2020 – Executive Decree of 25 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • Declaring of national interest and priority the activities, actions and measures for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19 infection, by shutting borders, airports and bus stations. Declaring medical attention to the disease free of charge and a reduction of the workday in both the private and public sectors – Act 1293 of 1 April 2020. (Temporary.)
  • An extension of the complete quarantine until 30 April 2020 – Executive Decree 4214 of 14 April 2020.
  • An extension of the complete quarantine until 10 May 2020 and dynamic quarantine until 31 May 2020 according to the level of risk (high, medium, moderate) identified in the city – Executive Decree 4229 of 29 April 2020.
  • The continuation of national dynamic and conditional quarantine until 30 June 2020, according to the risk conditions within the jurisdictions of each territorial autonomous entities (ETAs, according to their initials in Spanish) – Executive Decree 4245 of 28 May 2020.
  • National dynamic and conditional quarantine extended until 31 July 2020 – Executive Decree 4276 of 26 July 2020.

Educational

  • Temporary suspension of classes in person at all education levels and modes until 31 May 2020 – Executive Decree 4229 of 29 April 2020. (Temporary.)
  • Temporary suspension of classes in person at all education levels and modes until 30 June 2020 – Executive Decree 4245 of 28 May 2020. (Temporary.)
  • Regulation of in-person, remote, virtual and blended attendance within the Subsystems of Regular Education, Alternative and Special Education and Higher Education for Professional Training of the Plurinational Education System – Executive Decree 4260 of 6 June 2020. (Final.)
  • The closure of school year 2020 – Ministerial Resolution 0050/2020 of the Ministry of Education. (Final.)

Labour

  • To establish a continuous workday from 8am until 4pm, except for the area of healthcare – Executive Decree 4192 of 16 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • The establishment of an exceptional workday of five hours, the allocation of appropriate and sufficient hygienic material, the adoption of cleaning protocols and the issuance of special licences to people with existing comorbidities, adults over 60 years old, pregnant women and parents or tutors in charge of minors under 5 years old – Executive Decree 4196 of 17 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • To declare a complete quarantine for the entire territory of the Plurinational State of Bolivia starting at 12am on Sunday 22 March 2020 until Saturday 4 April 2020, keeping the exceptionalities of Executive Decree 4196 – Executive Decree 4199 of 21 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • The suspension of deadlines for employers and other payers of long-term social security to complete the physical payment of contributions in the name of the insured to their personal pension funds, insurance premiums, commissions and solidarity contributions, among others, that expired during the declaration of complete quarantine – APS Instruction No 09/2020 of 31 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • A reduction of workdays in both the public and private sectors defined by a regulation by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision – Act 1293 of 1 April 2020. (Temporary.)
  • An extension of the deadline for the payment of contributions from independent insureds to the Integrated Pension System (Sistema Integral de Pensiones) for periods affected by the complete quarantine. An extension of the processes for the recovery of contributions to up to 60 days – Executive Decree 4206 of 1 April 2020. (Temporary.)
  • A suspension of filing payrolls for family assignment to the Short-Term Social Security Supervision Authority (Autoridad de Supervision de la Seguridad Social de Corto Plazo, or ASUSS) in print and digitally during the quarantine – Bi-ministerial Resolution No 070/2020 of 2 April 2020 (Temporary.)
  • A suspension of the requirement for the validation of prenatal medical controls for pregnant women who shall receive a prenatal subsidy – ASUSS Memorandum of 6 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • Labour stability established for the public and private sectors, protected by the Bolivian state, except in cases listed in Article 16 of the General Labour Act and Article 9 of its Regulation. A guarantee for the payment of salaries in the public and private sectors – Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision Memorandum No 14.
  • An emergency plan to support employment and labour stability by providing legally incorporated companies whose employees are duly registered before the Integrated Pension System with resources in order to support them in paying salaries to their employees. A term of 18 months, with a six-month grace period, and for amounts equal to two monthly national minimum wages per employee per month for a maximum of two months – Executive Decree 4216 of 14 April 2020. (Temporary.)
  • Authorisation for the Ministry of Public Health to enter exceptionally into annual collective insurance covering total and permanent disability or death for a period of one year for healthcare professionals and workers infected during attention and service for patients with COVID-19 who work in healthcare facilities, clinics and other public subsectors, in short-term social security and private of the national healthcare system – Executive Decree 4217 of 14 April 2020. (Temporary.)
  • Regulation of remote work (Teletrabajo) as a special method of supplying services, characterised by the use of information and communication technologies – Executive Decree 14 April 2020 – Ministerial Resolution No 220/2020 of 7 May 2020. (Permanent.)
  • Work schedules, permits and conditions for relationships of subordination and dependency during the enforcement of a conditional and dynamic quarantine due to the national sanitary emergency of COVID-19 – Ministerial Resolution No 229/2020 of 21 May 2020. (Temporary.)
  • Approval of the National Programme for Reactivation of Employment, prioritising sectors that require higher public investment and incentivising the consumption of national products to support the recovery of the production sector through the supply of resources – Executive Decree 4272 of 22 June 2020. (Temporary.)
  • In order to meet the eight-hour workday, remote work may be applied alternatively when possible, vacations may be taken when applicable or the recovery of lost hours when sanitary conditions allow it, as determined by each ETA – Ministerial Resolution No 247 of 19 June 2020. (Temporary.)
  • The workday is resumed for the public and private sectors in all the territory of the Plurinational State of Bolivia starting 1 July 2020, as a continuous workday Monday through Friday, between 5am and 6pm, with the exceptions set in Executive Decree 4276 – Ministerial Resolution No 255 of 30 June 2020. (Temporary.)
  • An extension of the terms for long-term social security for the validation and management of the collection of contributions to long-term social security and services and benefits from long-term social security. (Temporary.)

Economic

  • The granting of a family bonus of BOB500 for a single time to children of vocational community primary level of state schools and schools under international conventions, and a decrease of 30% of the monthly power bill for household consumption only – Executive Decree 4197 of 18 March 2020, Executive Decree 4199 of 21 March 2020, Executive Decree 4205 of 1 April 2020 and Executive Decree 4210 of 8 April 2020. (Temporary.)
  • Emergency and temporary tax measures (delays and payment terms) during the national emergency situation due to the COVID-19 outbreak and real and imminent adverse phenomena – Executive Decree 4198 of 18 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • For commercial companies registered before the Trade Registry with a fiscal period that closed on 31 December 2019, new deadlines are established for commercial and registration duties and obligations under the framework of the Code of Commerce – Executive Decree of 31 March 2020. (Temporary.)
  • A suspension of the filing of payrolls and of labour accident reports through the virtual platform until 30 May 2020 – Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision Memorandum No 13/2020. (Temporary.)
  • Exceptional deferral for the payment of credit instalments in the financial systems and a temporary reduction of the payment of basic utilities, and a prohibition on cutting the power service – Act No 1294 of 1 April 2020. (Temporary.)
  • Regulation on exceptional deferral for the payment of credit instalments in the financial systems and a temporary reduction of the payment of basic utilities, and a prohibition on cutting the power service – Executive Decree 4206 of 1 April 2020. (Temporary.)
  • A temporary deferment of import taxes to 0% for two years starting on the coming into force of the executive decree for the import of merchandise identified under the category of import custom tariffs of Bolivia – Executive Decree 4211 of 8 April 2020. (Temporary.)
  • The granting of a Universal Bonus of BOB500, for a single time, to all Bolivians from 18 years old to 60 years old, except those who receive the Family Bonus, the Family Pantry, public servants and workers of the public and private sectors – Executive Decree 4215 of 14 April 2020. (Temporary.)
  • A special support programme for micro, small and medium-size enterprises with the intention of ensuring sufficient resources to safeguard sources of employment, operations, continuity of businesses and their operations, consisting of credits of five years with a one-year period of grace, with interest rates and conditions set by the Ministry of Economy and Public Finances – Executive Decree 4216 of 14 April 2020. (Temporary.)
  • A deferment to 0% of the import tax for the import of supplies, medicaments, medical devices and equipment, acquired or donated, for the attention of COVID-19, Type I and II diabetes, kidney diseases, cardiovascular diseases, neurologic diseases and oncological diseases – Executive Decree 4227 of 28 April 2020. (Temporary.)

In Bolivia, there are two kinds of workers: salaried employees (white-collar) and manual workers (blue-collar).

White-collar workers provide managerial, administrative or technical tasks in the public or private sector under a verbal or written contract, for a monthly salary.

Blue-collar workers are members of the working class who perform manual labour and are paid hourly and only for the hours worked.

The main elements of an employment contract in Bolivia are:

  • the relationship of dependence and subordination of employees under their employer; and
  • the execution of work for others (the employer) for a salary of a remuneration in any of its forms.

Article 46 of the General Labour Act provides:

  • a workday of eight hours, up to a maximum of 48 hours per week, except for women, who may only work up to 40 hours per week; and
  • night shifts should not exceed seven hours ("night shift" is applicable to work executed between 8pm and 6am).

The workdays for management and personnel who exercise higher responsibility can be extended to up to 12 hours per day. This rule is more clearly defined by Article 36 of the Regulations to the General Labour Act, which states: “Managers, directors, administrators, representatives or proxies who work without immediate superior supervision, are included in the exception established in the second paragraph of article 46 of the act.”

Remuneration for Overtime and Holidays, Night Shifts and Sundays

Articles 52 and 53 of the General Labour Act, and Article 39 of its Regulation, establish the following.

  • Article 52 – salaries below the minimum wage are not allowed; the amount is approved by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision. The minimum wage is proportional to the work done; no differences are to be made for reasons of sex or nationality.
  • Article 53 – the period for the payment of salaries may not exceed 15 days for workers and 30 days for employees and domestic workers. Payments must be made in legal currency on any business day and at the place of work; it is prohibited to do it in places of recreation, or where the other merchandise or alcoholic beverages are sold, except when such are the places where employees work.
  • Article 39 – remuneration or salary is the payment employees or workers receive in cash for their work (including commissions and benefits, when they become permanent).

As stated above, no person may be paid a salary below the national minimum wage. In addition, the government will increase said minimum wage on International Labour Day (May 1st) every year.

According to Article 48 paragraph IV of the Political Constitution of the State, salaries are guaranteed as follows.

  • Accrued wages or salaries, labour rights, severance and contributions to social security have privilege and preference over any other credit and are inalienable and imprescriptible; since salary is inalienable and imprescriptible, no deduction can be made except when prescribed by law (deductions for contributions to pension funds). Any other deduction must be previously approved by a judge.

Overtime shall be calculated upon the ordinary remuneration for an eight-hour workday. However, whenever a workday is subject to variations in production requirements according to demand throughout the year, workdays and the corresponding salary must be adjusted accordingly.

Remuneration for night shifts, overtime, holidays and Sundays must be made pursuant to Article 55 of the General Labour Act, which states that overtime and holidays must be paid with a 100% surcharge – that is, double – and night shifts must be paid with between a 25% and 50% surcharge, depending on the circumstances.

Work done on Sundays if regular work was performed during the week must be paid triple.

Lastly, the following shall be noted.

  • According to Article 50 of the General Labour Act, the correction of mistakes committed during the day is not considered overtime.
  • Article 41 of the Regulation requires that a special register approved by the General Labour Inspectorate must be kept to record overtime.
  • According to Article 55 of the General Labour Act, and Executive Decree 0090 of 24 April 1944, the percentages of surcharge for different types of night shift are as follows:
    1. Article 1 requires that all night shifts carried out in commercial establishments and offices and, in general, all those tasks that, by their nature, do not require the physical presence of a worker, such as surveillance work, shall be remunerated with a 25% surcharge;
    2. Article 2 requires that night shifts carried out in industrial and manufacturing establishments shall be remunerated with a surcharge of 30%;
    3. Article 3 requires that night shifts carried out by women over 18 years of age (performed under the conditions established by the Executive Decree of 22 January 2019) must be paid with a surcharge of 40%; and
    4. Article 55 states that work done on a Sunday when regular work was performed during the week is paid triple.

In Bolivia, the minimum wage is called the "National Minimum Wage". Bolivia’s current minimum wage is BOB2,164, which is the fifth highest in South America.

The national minimum wage is increased every year on May 1st through executive decree by the president of Bolivia, according to the inflation rate of the previous year.

Act (Decreto Ley) 901 of 28 November 1986 sanctioned the new currency (boliviano), which has been in force since 1 January 1987. The minimum salary of a worker in Bolivia has evolved according to the growth of the Bolivian economy.

The Act of 18 December 1944 sanctions the payment of a Christmas bonus or thirteenth salary. It is an annual payment for services rendered over three months. The bonus is equal to the employee’s salary divided by 12 and multiplied by the number of months worked during that year.

In 2013, the government of Evo Morales Ayma sanctioned the mandatory payment of a double bonus, or a fourteenth salary, to all public workers or private employees, provided the gross domestic product (GDP) grew more than 4.5% for that year.

Article 57 of the General Labour Act, as modified by Article 3 of the Act of 11 June 1947, and Article 27 of Executive Decree 3691 of 3 April 1954 establish the payment of a bonus on top of the Christmas bonus, provided that the employer has obtained profits at the end of the year. This bonus is equivalent to one month's salary.

In Bolivia, among the social benefits of workers is the long-awaited benefit of vacations, which is a period of rest paid to the employee or worker after they have completed one year of uninterrupted service.

The length of vacations or number of rest days is determined by years of service.

Article 44 of the General Labour Act, modified by Executive Decree 3150 of 19 August 1952, establishes that workers who provide their services for 12 months are entitled to a holiday, in private companies and in the public sector. The following structure applies:

  • one to five years' service – 15 days' holiday;
  • five to ten years' service – 20 days' holiday; and
  • ten or more years' service – 30 days' holiday.

If an employee or worker suffers from any illness during the holiday period, the sickness period is considered to be an interruption of that holiday. Vacations and medical leave are paid. The days taken for holidays must equate to regular working days only, meaning Sundays, holidays or non-working days cannot be counted.

Annual vacations cannot be compensated with money, unless the contract is terminated. Moreover, they cannot be accumulated for more than two periods, as established by Article 33 of the Regulation to the General Labour Act.

Maternity

According to Article 61 of the General Labour Act supplemented by the Social Security Code and Act 13214 of 24 December 1975, a mother is entitled to maternity leave for 45 days before and 45 days after delivery. The law provides that once the baby is born, the child can be taken to the place of work until they reach six months of age.

Article 2 of Executive Decree 0012 of 19 February 2009 sanctions labour protection for the mother and father, regardless of their marital status, starting from the moment of conception until the child turns one year. This means they cannot be fired, nor can their salary be changed (decreased).

In addition, there are prenatal and breastfeeding allowances. The prenatal subsidy and breastfeeding subsidy consist of goods delivered each month to the pregnant mother (insured or beneficiary) and the infant equivalent a BOB2,000 (Executive Decree 3546 of 1 May 2018). The prenatal allowance begins on the first day of the fifth month of pregnancy and ends on the day of birth of the child. The breastfeeding allowance starts from the day of birth of the child and lasts for the first 12 months of their life.

There is also a birth allowance, which is a single payment, equivalent to BOB2,000 (Executive Decree 3546 of 1 May 2018), paid to the insured pregnant mother or beneficiary on the birth of each child.

Sometimes, a company may wish to stop an ex-employee from providing services to others at the end of their employment, so a “non-competition or non-contractual agreement” may be signed.

These covenants involve “limiting” one of the fundamental rights of a person – ie, “the right to work” – but the law sets out a series of requirements to prevent such agreements from being misused. First, they cannot be agreed for a period exceeding two years upon termination. In addition, the company must justify the existence of a commercial or industrial interest; that is, it is prohibited to work concurrently in “competitive” companies.

In Bolivia, there is no specific labour regulation on the matter. However, according to Article 25 of the Code of Commerce, merchants have the obligation to refrain from executing acts of unfair competition, understood as conduct that has the purpose or effect of diverting clients from the activity, commercial services or establishments of outsiders; violating the provisions that protect trade names, trade marks and invention patents; using assumed names that are intended to confuse consumers; discrediting competing products or services; and scaring away customers or carrying out machinations with or against technicians or trusted employees of competitors, among others, as described in Article 69 of the Commercial Code.

Pursuant to Article 70 of the aforementioned Code, the affected parties may demand in summary proceedings (i) the cessation and desistance of the allegedly illegal act and the destruction of the material means used, and (ii) public rectification in the case of inaccurate or false statements. The affected party can also demand damages and guarantees, which shall be determined by the judge.

Bolivia does not yet have a general law for the protection of personal data. What it currently has are standards from various sectors that contain references to the processing of personal data.

Pursuant to Article 3 of the General Labour Act, in no company or establishment may the number of foreign workers exceed 15% of the total; this will include exclusively technicians.

In order to work in Bolivia, it is necessary to have a visa, of which there are two types.

A Determined Object Visa

This visa may be requested for business trips or work contracts, voluntary unpaid social service, marriage or for temporary or permanent residence and has a duration of 30 days, extendable twice, for up to a maximum of 90 days.

The requirements are:

  • an application form, which is obtained from the General Authority of Migration of Bolivia or can be downloaded from its website (procedures for foreigners, by nationality);
  • a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months;
  • a photocopy of the passport showing the affiliation page and the stamp of last entry to the country;
  • an affidavit given before the General Authority of Migration, and a statement of the object of the activity that will be carried out in the territory of Bolivia; and
  • if the applicant does not have a work dependency, they must present a notarised letter certifying the type of activity they carry out and a statement of economic solvency.

One-Year Temporary Residence Visa

This visa will allow the applicant to stay in Bolivia for one year, during which the applicant can carry out economic, sports and cultural activities (whether paid or not). It is advisable to apply for this visa if volunteer or social work is contemplated.

The requirements are:

  • a formal written request through an attorney (memorial) and an affidavit, which can be downloaded from the General Authority of Migration (procedures for foreigners by nationality);
  • a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months;
  • a photocopy of the passport, including the specific-object visa, the last entry stamp and the affiliation pages;
  • a work contract endorsed by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision and a photocopy of the NIT (Taxpayer’s Identification Number) of the legalised company;
  • a criminal record certificate issued by the Special Task Force against Crime (FELCC) (only for applicants over 16 years of age);
  • an address registration issued by the FELCC;
  • a criminal record certificate issued by INTERPOL; and
  • a medical certificate issued by the competent authority, proving that the applicant does not suffer from an infectious disease.

Once the above requirements have been met, the following must be provided:

  • a formal written request through an attorney (memorial), requesting temporary residence for one year;
  • a photograph on a red background (4 cm x 4 cm); and
  • a corresponding sticker.

If the applicant does not have work dependency, they must present a notarised letter stating the type of activity to be carried out and proof of financial solvency.

In the case of companies, they must present a certified photocopy of the incorporation of the company before the Trade Registry (FUNDEMPRESA) and a legalised photocopy of the NIT issued by the SIN (National Tax Service).

In the case of minors, the requirements are:

  • an application form that can be downloaded from the  General Authority of Migration website procedures for foreigners, by nationality;
  • a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months;
  • a photocopy of the residence of the father or mother; and
  • a notarial letter indicating economic solvency.

Article 48 of the Immigration Act No 370 of 8 May 2013 establishes that:

  • foreign migrants admitted and authorised in the Plurinational State of Bolivia with temporary or permanent residence may carry out any remunerated tasks or activities on their own or in a relationship of dependency, and shall enjoy the protection and rights granted by the laws that govern the labour and social security regime;
  • employers and employees must comply with the current labour legislation; the acquired rights and social benefits that correspond to foreign migrants are not to be affected by the work they provide, whatever their immigration status; and
  • companies that provide services in Bolivian territory that have foreign personnel must comply with the current Bolivian regulations and the regulations of this law.

According to Article 51 (Prohibition of Work), foreigners who are tourists or visitors in the country may not work or perform remunerated or lucrative tasks unless expressly authorised by the General Authority of Migration for humanitarian reasons.

Unions continue to play an important role for workers in Bolivia. Their main interest is focused on salary increases and employment stability for the workers. The right to organise in unions in accordance with the law is established in Article 51 of the Political Constitution of the State and Article 99 of the General Labour Act, subject to compliance with special formalities.

Representative bodies hold meetings with the workers to protect their rights and to determine whether problems exist. These representatives are elected through a process established by the legal provisions that govern unions in Bolivia.

Article 49 of the Political Constitution of the Plurinational State of Bolivia states that “the right to collective bargaining is recognised”.

Issues discussed in collective bargaining agreements with the unions may include wage and salary increases, reinstatement, paid vacations, calculation of seniority, working days, overtime, Sunday work, Christmas bonuses, vouchers, bonuses and other benefits, severance pay and compensation, maternity leave, vocational training and other social rights.

The ways to terminate a labour relationship are regulated by Article 16 of the General Labour Law and Article 9 of its Regulation. A labour relationship may also be terminated on the basis of force majeure.

Specific legislation in the field of labour relations prioritises stability for workers and protection against termination in violation of Article 16 of the General Labour Act.

Article 10 of Executive Decree No 28699 of 1 May 2006 clearly sets out the following:

  • when the employee is fired on grounds not set forth in Article 16 of the General Labour Act, they may opt for payment of severance (beneficios sociales) or reinstatement;
  • if a worker chooses severance, the employer is forced to pay them in addition to other benefits and rights owed to them, as provided in Article VII of this Act; and
  • when the employee opts for reinstatement, the employer will immediately return them to the same position they occupied at the time of termination, and the payment of wages and other social rights will be updated to the date of reinstatement. In the event of refusal by the employer, the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision will impose a fine for violation of social laws and the employee may sue, demanding reinstatement with the proof of illegal termination issued by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision.

In anticipation of that provision, every worker can be deemed to have suffered from an unwarranted separation if they do not accept the decision of the employer.

They may choose reinstatement, in which case they will receive the payment of wages and other social rights that they received as a regular worker from the time of their unjustified termination up to the moment of re-employment.

This right to retain their source of employment has also been consolidated in the new Constitution of the State, enacted by the present government on 7 February 2009, which, in Article III-49, indicates that the state shall protect labour stability. Unjustified termination and any form of labour harassment is prohibited and the law shall determine the appropriate penalties.

Furthermore, Article 48-IV of the same Constitution of the State declares that wages or earned salaries, labour rights, social benefits and social security contributions that were not paid have preference and privilege over all other debts and these are inalienable and imprescriptible.

These protections have risen to the rank of constitutional law while protecting the right to reinstatement of workers who were terminated without legal cause.

However, the final part of the current Constitution Law in its Transitional Provisions does not refer to the status of special legislation governing various matters, including the nature of work not identified.

This law expressly states that its approval will operate with an automatic repeal of the limitation expressly to abrogate the previous Constitution, which creates loopholes and susceptibility in the current application of the rules, for as long as the transition period continues, until both fit all national legislation.

Termination notice no longer exists.

A labour contract can be terminated for just reason or cause, including a breach of Article 16 of the General Labour Act and Article 9 of its Regulation.

For these cases, Article 2-I of Ministerial Resolution No 551/06 of 6 December 2006 provides that the internal labour regulations of all companies must regulate a committee made up of workers and employers (a 50/50 split) to ensure the impartiality of procedures on terminations. In the event of termination based on the legal grounds mentioned above, the worker shall not be entitled to severance, except:

  • five years of consolidated work (Quinquenio) for each five years of service, so any outstanding balance of a time period not completed will be lost; this payment represents the recognition of the equivalent of five average salaries that the employee would have received within the last three months of service;
  • pending vacations, provided that the person had completed at least one continuous year of service; and
  • a Christmas bonus, provided that the work complies with the requirements legally established and that the grounds for dismissal are those established in Article 16 of the General Labour Act, Sections d) and f) – ie, leave or absence – and not in other cases as determined by Executive Decree No 229 of 21 December 1944.

A bonus if the employer made profits during that fiscal period, provided that the cause of termination is authorised by Article 16, Sections d) and f) of the General Labour Law – ie, leave or absence – and not in any other cases as determined by Executive Decree No 229 of 21 December 1944; also taking into consideration the conditions laid down by law in terms of time spent working in the respective fiscal year.

Conclusion of Contract

A fixed-term contract may be subject to a fixed calendar term or the completion of work or services, in which case the employee will be due compensation at the end of the contract. The following might be due:

  • compensation for length of service according to law, equivalent to the average monthly salary for each year of continuous work or one twelfth of the average wage received in the last three months of service, as applicable;
  • a Christmas bonus, in the proportion equivalent to the months of work in one year or, if necessary, one twelfth, provided that the worker complies with the legally established requirements;
  • a bonus if the employer made profits during that fiscal period, provided that the external audit report is approved by the fiscal entity for said period and that the worker complied with all legal requirements during the same; and
  • pending vacations, provided that the worker has completed at least one year of continuous service and that said vacations could not be accumulated, as determined by Article 33 of the Regulation to the General Labour Act.

Indirect Termination

Aside from the unrelated forms of termination described above, there is also “indirect termination”, which has a broad definition but is actually the adoption by the employer of any conduct or assignment that creates vested rights for the worker.

In this context, indirect termination can be understood as follows:

  • wage reduction;
  • category reduction;
  • the non-payment of salaries for more than two months;
  • mobbing – ie, group bullying – or psychological harassment at work; and
  • the adoption of any measure without consultation with the employee that represents a substantial change in their employment contract, without their consent (eg, moving the employee to another region, city or country when the employee was originally hired in a given city that might be considered to be the home of their family).

With the exception of reduction of salary, none of the causes for indirect termination are explicitly regulated by Bolivian legislation and have been set through decisions of the Supreme Court, expanding the scope of indirect termination.

As stated above, the only measure that is duly legislated is reduction of salary, governed by Article 2 of the Decree of 9 March 1937, which states that, in the event of salary reduction, employees have the option of keeping their job or terminating the contract with full severance and benefits for their years of service. The employer must give three months' notice for reduction in salary.

This form of labour termination can occur as follows:

  • indirect termination does not require any notice; the affected employee can choose termination and is entitled to full severance; or
  • indirect untimely termination, which operates as a measure of reduction of salary, category, etc; in this situation, the affected employee shall be entitled to full severance by accepting the termination.

Voluntary Termination

Under Executive Decree 110 of 1 May 2009, workers have the right to resign their position and shall be entitled to higher or lower benefits before or after the completion of 90 days of continuous service.

If the resignation of the worker occurs within 90 days of continuous service, there is no obligation to pay compensation over and above the following collateral rights, such as:

  • a Christmas bonus, equivalent to the months of work in one year, provided that the work complies with the requirements legally established as the minimum work in the respective fiscal year;
  • a bonus if the employer made profits during that fiscal period, provided that the external audit report is approved by the fiscal entity in said period, attesting to the existence of actual earnings in compliance with the Act of 11 June 1947 and that the worker complied with all legal requirements (established as for the minimum time of work within the fiscal year in question); and
  • pending vacations, provided that the worker has completed at least one year of continuous service and that could not be accumulated, as determined in Article 33 of the Regulation to the General Labour Law.

If the resignation occurred after having completed five years of continuous service, the worker will have the right to receive an indemnification in recognition of services that represents the payment of an average salary for every continuous year of work and additional month pro rata, if applicable.

See 7.2 Notice Periods/Severance.

See 7.2 Notice Periods/Severance.

There is specific legislation that prioritises stability for workers while avoiding, as far as possible, termination without just cause; ie, when there has been no violation of Article 16 of the General Labour Act.

See 7.2 Notice Periods/Severance.

The Political Constitution of the State, Article 49 paragraph III, provides that the state shall protect labour stability. Unjustified termination and all forms of harassment at the workplace are prohibited. The law will determine the corresponding penalties, denoting that its purpose is also to protect labour rights and guarantee job stability. However, Article 7 of the Comprehensive Act to Guarantee Women a Life Free of Violence (Act No 348) defines “labour violence” as any violent action that occurs in any field of work by any person of superior, equal or inferior hierarchy that discriminates, humiliates, threatens or intimidates women; that hinders or subordinates access to employment, permanence or promotion; or that violates the exercise of a woman’s rights.

Furthermore, regarding sexual harassment, Act No 348 penalises individuals for violating the law, as defined by Article 84: “The person who, using a hierarchical position or power of any kind, harasses, persecutes, demands, urges, threatens to cause any harm or damage, determines the obtaining of a benefit or obliges by any means to another person to maintain a relationship or performing acts or having behaviours of sexual content that otherwise would not be consented, for their benefit or any third person’s, will be punished with deprivation of liberty from four to eight years."

Workplace bullying must always be verifiable. Although the propagators of such behaviour often use subtle tactics and are clandestine, they frequently do not leave external traces, nor do they tend to have witnesses willing to reveal what they have witnessed. Nevertheless, the evaluation of harassment at work must be primarily objective, not merely subjective.

The first stage in cases of labour conflicts is the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision, which is a conciliation centre and an institution of the Bolivian state that issues instructions to the employer to resolve the claim.

If the issue is not resolved by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision, a judicial body shall be constituted to resolve the dispute.

Representations before the court must be made by an attorney who is experienced in labour law.

Articles 105 through 113 of the General Labour Act regulates conciliation and arbitration procedures for labour matters, and highlight an initial conciliation procedure before the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision only at the request of the workers' union on the basis of a list of claims. The process is chaired by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Provision through the Conciliation Board. If no conciliation is reached, the process continues before an Arbitration Court composed of one member from each party and chaired by the general director of labour. The decisions of the Court will be taken by absolute majority of votes and will be binding to the parties:

  • when the parties agree;
  • when the conflict affects essential public services; or
  • when by special resolution the executive so determines.

Attorney’s fees in legal proceedings can be determined by the judge based on the Bar’s chart.

CARRASCO FIRMA DE ABOGADOS

Calle 15 N° 8054 – Calacoto
Edificio Plaza 15
Piso 6 Of. 6ª
La Paz - Bolivia

+591 2 2795644 / +591 2 2774806

pcarrasco@carrascoabogados.com www.carrascoabogados.com
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Law and Practice in Bolivia

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CARRASCO FIRMA DE ABOGADOS specialises in labour law and provides support and advice in both administrative and contentious issues. In recent years, the firm has managed to expand its services in order to include corporate, commercial, civil, administrative, IP and litigation law. Personalised advice, as well as the adoption of preventative and timely legal strategies in the event of controversy, has allowed Carrasco to become one of the main law firms for companies and entities in Bolivia. The firm has offices in the cities of La Paz and Santa Cruz.