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29 July 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the introduction of several new resolutions in Argentina. On 12 March 2020, in a general agreement of ministers, the president decreed a state of public emergency for one year(1) and on 19 March 2020 a number of social, preventive and mandatory isolation measures were established.(2)
Only a number of essential activities were allowed to continue during this period, including cargo transportation operations, medical flights and return flights for Argentine residents or citizens who were outside the country.
The establishment of compulsory isolation generated controversy among the general public. Some considered that the measures had been adopted too early when there were few cases of COVID-19 in Argentina. Others considered that the early imposition of mandatory isolation slowed the spread of the virus, allowing the health system to respond to the confirmed cases.
Whatever the opinion, the truth is that Argentina requires mandatory isolation in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA) and other parts of the country, making up more than four months of lockdown.(3)
In this context, the following measures were introduced:
In this situation, the president decreed the prohibition of dismissals and suspensions until 31 July 2020,(10) stipulating that the eventual dismissal or suspension of employees would produce no effect, keeping the existing labour relations in force.
Before the pandemic, the president had decreed(11) that employers who dismissed an employee when they had not committed a serious offence justifying the dismissal would have to pay double the standard rate of compensation. This increased compensation rate is applied to some items that make up the compensation (eg, seniority and pre-notice) and will remain in force until December 2020.
In line with these resolutions, the president established a system of assistance to legal persons and natural persons who do not carry out activities and services declared essential in the health emergency.
In the event that such persons were employers, an Emergency Work and Production Assistance Program (ATP) was established.(12)
The ATP includes the reduction or postponement of employer contributions and the compensatory allocation of wages, which are paid by the state to workers who depend on employers that would have had their income reduced substantially after the declaration of the pandemic. This aid was used by a large number of branches of foreign air carriers.
The same measures were adopted in relation to processes or precautionary measures in process for unfulfilled tax obligations, suspending the course of the terms in administrative procedures.(13)
The abovementioned resolutions have provided some financial relief during this unprecedented time with the aim of fostering a return to normal activities as soon as possible.
For further information on this topic please contact Elizabeth Mireya Freidenberg or María Inés Lago at Freidenberg Freidenberg & Lifsic by telephone (+54 11 4311 4991) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Freidenberg Freidenberg & Lifsic website can be accessed at www.estudiofreidenberg.com.
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Elizabeth Mireya Freidenberg
María Inés Lago