Unions propose to reduce the working day in the Dominican Republic from 44 to 40 hours
Santo Domingo.- The unions in the Dominican Republic are seeking changes to the Labor Code, aiming for a maximum weekly working hours reduction from 44 to 40, and a shift in the start of night hours from 9 pm to 7 pm. Specifically, the union representation proposes an amendment to Article 147 of the current Labor Code. The proposed modification states, “The normal duration of the workday is determined in the contract and should not exceed eight hours per day or forty hours per week.” However, they suggest that, upon the employer’s request, the Minister of Labor may authorize extending the daily workday to ten hours, as long as the weekly limit is not exceeded.
Currently, the working day in the country is set at a maximum of eight hours per day or 44 hours per week. Additionally, the weekly workday ends at 12 noon on Saturday. Furthermore, the unions are proposing an increase in the uninterrupted weekly rest period, currently set at 36 hours, to 48 hours. They suggest that this rest period should commence at 8 am on Saturday, in the absence of any other agreed-upon day. The existing regulations define the daytime working hours as 7 am to 9 pm and the nighttime hours as 9 pm to 7 am. However, the unions propose shifting the end of the daytime session to 7 pm, initiating the nighttime session from that time until 7 am.
The Labor Code of the Dominican Republic dates back to 1992. Tripartite discussions involving employers, unions, and the government resumed last year with the objective of modernizing the code. According to the Minister of Labor, Luis Miguel De Camps, 87% of the code’s content has reached a consensus. However, discussions have stalled when it comes to critical issues, and the unions have expressed that the working hours have not yet been addressed. The business sector has not taken a position on the unions’ proposed working hours as it has not been discussed in the tripartite dialogue. Laura Peña Izquierdo, the president of the Employers’ Confederation of the Dominican Republic (Copardom), stated to Diario Libre that they are in the process of reaching an agreement on the proposed modifications to the Labor Code.
If the union proposal is approved, the Dominican Republic would join countries like Chile, which recently passed a law reducing the working week from 45 to 40 hours in April 2023. The implementation of the new law in Chile will be phased in over the next five years: initially reduced to 44 hours after one year, then 42 hours after three years, and eventually reaching 40 hours after five years. The business community in Chile has observed that this change will impact labor costs and require restructuring. In recent years, several countries have conducted trials to reduce the working week to four days. For instance, in the United Kingdom, between June and December 2022, approximately 2,900 employees across 61 companies worked on a four-day week schedule. The published results indicate that 39% of employees experienced reduced stress levels, and 71% reported a decrease in exhaustion by the end of the trial period. Business revenues remained relatively stable, with an average increase of 1.4% during the testing phase.