As the kickoff of a series of article that would be eventually combined in a full Labor Guide to Doing Business in Argentina, we will now cover the sources of Argentine labor law.
Argentina is organized as a federal state. However, under Article No. 75, Sub-article 12, of the National Constitution, the National Congress is entitled to enact country-wide labor legislation. Therefore, the most important regulations on employment are federal.
Work protection is a constitutional mandate enshrined by the Article No. 14 bis of the National Constitution stating that laws shall guarantee workers decent and equitable working conditions, limited working hours; paid rest and holidays; fair pay; a mobile minimum living wage; equal pay for equal work; participation in company profits, with control of production and collaboration in management; protection against arbitrary dismissal; stability of the public employee; free and democratic trade union organization, recognized by simple registration in a special register. As a consequence, all labor rules and principles are protective of the employees.
The employment relationship is almost entirely regulated by public order laws granting workers rights that may not be waived, neither by individual agreements nor by collective bargaining agreements.
The labor agreements, in general, are governed by the Contract of Employment Law No. 20,744, as amended (Ley de Contrato de Trabajo, or LCT after its Spanish acronym); working hours by Law No. 11,544, as amended; illnesses and labor-related accidents by Law No. 24,557, as amended, etcetera. There are also specific laws regulating certain industries or activities, such as construction industry (Law No. 22,250, as amended), traveling sales employees (Law No. 14,546, as amended), workers in charge of horizontal property (Law No. 12,981), private household employees (Law No. 26,844), agricultural workers (Law No. 26,727).
Collective bargaining agreements are also of significant importance for regulating labor conditions across different activities, companies, and regions. Rights acknowledged by collective bargaining may not be waived by the employees.
Finally, the individual contract of employment entered into by and between an employer and an employee may grant employees more rights and benefits than those set forth by the applicable labor laws or collective bargaining agreements.
Concerning international labor law, the ruling disposition is contained in Article No. 3 of the LCT determining that, inasmuch as the contract of employment is performed in the Argentine territory, the LCT shall govern the validity, rights, and obligations of the parties, regardless where the agreement has been concluded. This is a public order provision and, thus, may not be waived by the parties.
This will entail that foreign companies wishing to hire resident workers must incorporate either a subsidiary or a branch in Argentina.
Mario E. Castro Sammartino
Our publications exclusively express the author´s opinion and do not purport to be legal counsel on any case. Should you need it, you must consult with your trusted lawyer.
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