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Employee Rights and Protections

Explore workers' rights and legal protections in Bolivia


In Bolivia, the General Labor Law (Ley General del Trabajo) and its Regulatory Decree provide the framework for lawful termination of employment.

Lawful Grounds for Dismissal

An employer can initiate dismissal proceedings against an employee based on several grounds, as detailed in Article 16 of the General Labor Law:

  • Intentional Damage: Deliberately causing significant harm to equipment, tools, or work materials.
  • Disclosure of Secrets: Revealing trade secrets or confidential information that could harm the employer's business.
  • Safety and Hygiene Violations: Acts of negligence or recklessness that endanger safety within the workplace.
  • Breach of Contract: Serious violations of the terms and conditions established within the employment contract.
  • Theft or Fraud: Engaging in theft, fraud, or other similar offenses against the employer or their property.
  • Unjustified Absence: Repeated or prolonged absence from work without proper authorization or justification.

Notice Requirements

There is no legally mandated notice period for termination of employment in Bolivia. However, it is customary and shows good faith for the employer to provide reasonable notice before the termination becomes effective.

Severance Pay

Severance pay (known as "desahucio") is mandatory in cases of unjustified termination by the employer in Bolivia. It is generally calculated as follows:

  • Amount: One month's salary for each year of service worked. For partial years, the severance is paid proportionally.

Important Considerations:

  • Justified Termination: If an employer terminates an employee for a lawful reason (mentioned within Article 16 of the General Labor Law), severance pay is generally not required.
  • Mutual Agreement: Employers and employees may mutually agree to a different severance arrangement through a written settlement.


Bolivia's primary legal instrument against discrimination is the Law Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination (Law 045), enacted in 2010. This law builds upon the constitutional principles of equality and non-discrimination.

Protected Characteristics

Law 045 provides broad protection against discrimination on the following grounds:

  • Race
  • Skin color
  • Ethnicity
  • Nationality
  • Language
  • Culture
  • Social status
  • Health status (including HIV status)
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Political or other beliefs
  • Age
  • Economic situation

Redress Mechanisms

Bolivian law provides a combination of judicial and administrative redress mechanisms for victims of discrimination:

  • Criminal Complaints: Discrimination can constitute a criminal offense with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.
  • Civil Lawsuits: Victims can file civil lawsuits for damages resulting from discriminatory acts.
  • Administrative Complaints: The Ministry of Justice and the Vice-Ministry of Decolonization are tasked with receiving and investigating discrimination complaints.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers in Bolivia have a crucial role in combating discrimination. Law 045 mandates the following responsibilities:

  • Prevention: Employers must implement policies and measures to prevent discrimination.
  • Education and Training: Employers must provide training programs to educate employees about discrimination and promote equality and inclusion in the workplace.
  • Complaint Mechanisms: Employers must establish internal mechanisms to receive, investigate, and respond to complaints of discrimination.
  • Positive Action: Encouraged to take positive action measures to address under-representation of groups affected by discrimination.

Important Considerations

  • Challenges: Enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in Bolivia remains a challenge, particularly concerning more marginalized groups.
  • Ongoing Efforts: The Bolivian government and civil society organizations continue working to strengthen the implementation and enforcement of anti-discrimination legislation.

Working conditions

Bolivia has established regulations outlining fair and safe working conditions for employees. These regulations cover aspects such as work hours, rest periods, and ergonomic requirements.

Work Hours

In Bolivia, the typical workday is eight hours. There's a legal limit of 48 working hours per week, spread across a maximum of six days. Women are afforded additional protection with a reduced standard workweek of 40 hours.

Rest Periods

Bolivian law mandates rest breaks after every five hours of work. The maximum duration for these breaks is two hours per day.

Ergonomic Requirements

While there isn't readily available information on a specific national ergonomic standard, Bolivian labor laws emphasize a safe and healthy work environment for employees. This would likely encompass basic ergonomic principles to prevent musculoskeletal disorders.

Additional Considerations

Overtime work is permitted, but with limitations. Overtime pay is mandated at a rate of 100% additional salary and cannot exceed two hours per day. Work on Sundays or holidays attracts a higher premium of three times the daily wage. Enforcing workplace safety regulations can be challenging in Bolivia.

Health and safety

Bolivia prioritizes worker well-being through a robust framework of health and safety regulations. Understanding these regulations is crucial for both employers and employees.

Employer Obligations

Bolivian law imposes significant obligations on employers to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. Here are some vital aspects:

  • Risk Assessment: Employers are required to conduct risk assessments to identify potential hazards in the workplace. Based on these assessments, employers must implement preventive measures to mitigate risks.

  • Safety Programs: The development and implementation of comprehensive safety programs are mandatory. These programs should encompass training on safety procedures, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and emergency response protocols.

  • Health Services: Employers must establish health services at work, particularly in high-risk industries. These services can include periodic medical checkups and monitoring of occupational health risks.

  • Joint Committee: The formation of a Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee, with worker representation, is compulsory for most companies. This committee plays a crucial role in monitoring workplace safety, investigating accidents, and promoting safety culture.

Employee Rights

Employees in Bolivia have fundamental rights regarding health and safety in the workplace:

  • Right to a Safe Workplace: Employees have the right to work in a safe environment free from recognized hazards.

  • Right to Information and Training: They are entitled to receive information and training on occupational hazards, safety procedures, and the proper use of PPE.

  • Right to Refuse Unsafe Work: Employees have the right to refuse work they believe poses a serious threat to their health or safety.

Enforcement Agencies

The Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Prevision (Ministerio de Trabajo, Empleo y Previsión Social) is the primary agency responsible for enforcing health and safety regulations in Bolivia. The Ministry conducts inspections, investigates accidents, and issues sanctions for non-compliance.

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