New regulations for the constitution, organization, and operation of bipartite OHS committees in Guatemala

Last Friday, November 24, 2023, Ministerial Agreement No. 486-2023 was published in the Official Gazette, which has introduced reforms to the Regulation for the Constitution, Organization, and Operation of the Bipartite OHS Committees, revoking the previous Manual of 2017. In our opinion, the substantial changes are highlighted below: 

  1. Organization and functioning of the committees:
    • The obligation to establish a bipartite committee in workplaces with 10 or more employees is maintained.
    • The functions of the committee are more precisely detailed, focusing on implementing prevention plans, promoting authorized policies, and monitoring compliance with prevention measures.
  1. Designation of Representatives:
    • It is specified that the employer directly appoints its representatives, while workers elect them democratically. To this end, the employer must ensure that the selection process is free and democratic.
    • The possibility of appointing alternate members to the committee is introduced.
  1. Digitization:
    • The committee’s minute book may be authorized physically or electronically.
    • The electronic request for the minute book shall be made through the electronic platform of the Ministry of Labor, guaranteeing transparency and security in the process. The minute book templates will be printable. The process is not yet defined, this will be published by the SSO Department of the Ministry of Labor.
  1. Modality of Committee Meetings:
    • Meetings may be physical or virtual, using information technology.
    • It is established that, in virtual meetings, the committee secretary will be the one to sign the minutes, stating the names of those who attended the meeting and mentioning the commitment to sign them afterward.
  1. Rights of Committee Members:
    • It is recognized that the time spent in committee meetings should be considered as part of the working day.
    • Committee members must have the necessary resources to carry out their functions, such as training and materials.
  1. Types of OHS Committees:
    • Different types of committees are defined according to the organizational structure, such as:
      • Bipartite occupational health and safety committee: This currently applies to all companies with more than 10 employees.
      • Corporate bipartite occupational health and safety committee: These are committees that must be integrated into the same workplace, where there is a group of companies or entities that, although they perform different jobs and provide services independently, are part of the same corporation. The committee must be made up of representatives of the companies or entities that make up the corporation.
      • Bipartite Institutional Health and Safety Committee: Applies to the public sector.
      • Joint administration bipartite health and safety committee: Applies to shopping malls. In these cases, the administration of the shopping center must coordinate the formation of the Committee, including all the owners or tenants of the different premises, kiosks, islands, booths, or similar, regardless of whether they have occupational health and safety committees or monitors properly formed.
  1. Relationship with third-party companies:
    • The relationship with intermediary companies, contractors, or subcontractors is regulated, establishing joint and several responsibilities and allowing the integration of OHS managers as guests in the Committee of the contracting company.
  1. Joint and several liability and penalties:
    • Joint and several liability is established between the employer of the contracting company and the employer of the intermediary company in occupational health and safety matters.
    • It warns about sanctions for non-compliance with the provisions of the Agreement, as established in the Labor Code.

These reforms focused on modernization and adaptation to technological realities, are intended to strengthen occupational risk prevention and promote a safe environment. Companies must be attentive to these changes to ensure regulatory compliance and effective protection of the health and safety of their workers.