After almost half a century, on the basis of a Supreme Court ruling last year, Argentina’s government has moved to regulate the article of a law obliging businesses employing over 100 people to maintain nurseries for children aged between 45 days and three years.
Last October the Supreme Court confirmed a ruling by the Federal Administrative Litigation Appeals Court ordering the government to regulate Article 179 of the Labour Contract Law, passed in 1974. The regulation was thus published in the Official Gazette 48 years late.
Following the Supreme Court ultimatum, the government has paid off a historic debt by regulating the article referring to nurseries, a move that could benefit thousands of workers.
Via Decree 144/2022, published last Wednesday in the Official Gazette, President Alberto Fernández established the application of Article 179 of Law 20,744, granting the benefit of maternal facilities (or the payment of a sum of money not forming part of the wage).
"In establishments employing the minimal number of workers as determined by the regulation, the employer will have to equip maternal facilities and nurseries for children according to the age and conditions established," reads the text of the law.
Nevertheless, since the government never regulated this article, the benefit remained limited to whatever was defined in collective bargaining or the personal negotiations between working mothers and their employers.
After a delay of 46 years the Supreme Court last October ordered the government to conclude administrative steps in order to establish the way in which Article 179 of the Labour Contract Law should be put into practice – the Supreme Court had allowed for 90 working days to comply with the ruling.
In last Wednesday’s decree it was defined that "in establishments where 100 or more people work, independently of the mode of contract, space must be offered to look after children aged between 45 days and three years and in the charge of workers during the respective working day."
It was also explained that collective bargaining contracts should provide for the replacement of nurseries at the workplace with "the payment of a sum of money not to be incorporated into the wage in order to recoup the costs of a nursery or child care, duly documented."
The decree also highlighted that non-compliance with this obligation should be considered "a very serious labour infraction" with the benefit applying to "all working people, independent of their gender." In any event the implementation of the regulated article "will be required within a year of coming into effect."