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Restrictions on dismissals in Venezuela: what selection rules apply?

Written by
D'Empaire, leading full-service law firm in Venezuela with a strong labour and employment practice.
Employers in Venezuela are currently subject to a ‘labour freeze’ which prevents them from dismissing employees without cause without prior government approval.

There is no mandatory selection order for dismissals under Venezuelan law. However, dismissals without cause are restricted in the context of the existing labour freeze and require the Labour Ministry’s prior approval. The labour freeze covers all employees except for top-level management and seasonal/temporary employees. The government has repeatedly extended the labour freeze measure since 2002 and further extensions are expected.

Because the Labour Ministry only grants authorisation for dismissal in the most extreme cases of misconduct or indiscipline and only after a cumbersome and time-consuming process, employers often resort to offering termination packages in exchange for their employees’ resignation. Employers must then enter into a negotiation process with employees.

Market practice indicates that when entering into negotiated termination procedures with employees, employers usually use selection criteria based on seniority and whether the employee has the benefit of special protection from dismissal (which applies, for example, to health and safety delegates, employees on maternity or sick leave and union representatives). It is common for negotiations to start with the most junior employees and those not covered by any special protection.

Biba Arciniegas
Partner - Venezuela