COVID-19: Creation of the Health Committee and the Safety Plan for the return to business activities

Panama, May 12, 2020. In planning for the post-quarantine return to business activities, the Ministry of Labor (MITRADEL, for its initials in Spanish) based on Executive Decree No. 78 of March 16, 2020, has required business to create Special Committees on Health and Hygiene for the Prevention and Care of COVID-19. These committees must include representatives for both management and labor.

What does this committee consist of, and how should it be formed?

It is a select temporary committee, different from the Health Committee, with specific functions related to prevention and mitigation measures for COVID-19 at the workplace and that will remain in force for the duration of the pandemic. It must be made up of a minimum of 2 to 6 people, depending on the size of the company, per the following table:

Company size Minimum of members
From two to ten workers Two people
From eleven to forty workers Four people
Forty-one or more workers Six people

The committee must have the same number representatives from labor and management. If there is union representation in the company, the union representative must be a part of the committee.

What requirements must the company meet?

The committee must be installed through a written document signed by all the members. This record, together with a form designed by MITRADEL, must be sent to the MITRADEL Inspection Directorate by electronic means.

Additionally, the committee must carry out a series of functions, including executing the recommendations contained in the Protocol to preserve hygiene and health in the workplace for the prevention of COVID-19.

This committee, as MITRADEL has pointed out, takes on special importance in the elaboration of business continuity plans by establishing a Health and Safety Plan for Return to the workplace.

Businesses must be prepared so that, in the event of an inspection by the authorities, they can demonstrate that they have a duly constituted committee and have taken the measures to guarantee a safe return to the workplace.

Our Labor Law Practice Group is prepared to advise you both in the formation of the committee and the preparation of the Health and Safety Plan for the Return to Business Activities. If you have any questions, you can contact us at [email protected].