Labour in Panama

Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramírez

Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramírez's 'excellent' team is well versed in all areas of labour law; it advises on individual and collective employment matters, including the negotiation of employment contracts and collective bargaining agreements, the termination of employees, social security audits and labour litigation. Multinationals with operations in Panama make up a large part of the team's client base, which also includes large local companies and financial institutions. The practice is led by Enna Ferrer, who has substantial experience advising on the transition of employees following M&A transactions and on negotiations with trade unions; Juan Gabriel González, who is skilled in labour litigation, the settlement of employee and union disputes, and day-to-day employment issues; and Francisco Iglesias, who focuses on labour litigation. Associate Nelson Sales has additional expertise in immigration issues.

Practice head(s):

Enna Ferrer; Juan Gabriel Gonzalez; Francisco Iglesias

Testimonials

‘We have worked with various different law firms and in my opinion Afra is the best.’

‘They stand out for their close contact with clients and knowledge of the subject matter.’

‘All of the lawyers are excellent.’

Key clients

L’Oréal Panama

DHL Panama

Port of Singapore (PSA)

Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF)

International School of Panama (ISP)

Arcos Dorados (McDonald’s Corporation)

Ricardo Perez (Itochu Group)

Hospital Paitilla (Hospiten Group)

ALS Global Panama

Productos Toledano

Industrias Lácteas (Estrella Azul)

Sony

Hilti Latin America

Puma Energy

Servier

Citibank

Importadora Maduro

adidas

Banistmo (Grupo Bancolombia)

Cervecería Nacional (AB InBev Group)

Cinemark

Cummins

Trane Technologies

Farmacias Arrocha

Liebherr

Alimentos del Istmo (Pepsico)

Stanley Black and Decker

UBS

Vopak

Western Union

Work highlights

  • Advised Industrias Lacteas on the termination of a number of employees following its acquisition by a Honduran group.
  • Assisted Cervecería Nacional (AB InBev Group) with the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement with its union.
  • Assisted ALS Panama (ALS Global Group) with filing an amparo action for the protection of constitutional guarantees, which prevented the client from having to negotiate with a mining union.

Morgan & Morgan

Morgan & Morgan advises on a wide range of contentious and non-contentious employment matters, including assisting with the labour aspects of corporate restructurings and M&A transactions, the hiring and termination of employees, the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements, employment litigation, and the creation of internal employment policies and disciplinary procedures. The team's impressive client base is made up of local and multinational companies from a variety of sectors, among them energy, insurance, financial services, real estate and logistics. At the head of the practice, Ricardo Aleman and Maria Teresa Mendoza are experienced in advising on employment contracts and termination agreements, collective bargaining negotiations and litigation. In addition, Albalira Montúfar leads the immigration practice and senior associate Milagros Caballero focuses on assisting international clients with the employment issues surrounding setting up their headquarters in Panama.

Practice head(s):

Ricardo Aleman; Maria Teresa Mendoza

Key clients

Assa Compañía de Seguros

Panama Ports Company (member of Hutchinson Ports Holdings)

Jinro

Michael Page

Desarrollo Buenaventura

Bank of China

Estée Lauder

Dolce Gabanna

Louis Vuitton

Water P. Moore

Indra

Maersk

Philips

Banco Davivienda

Minera Panamá (subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals)

DHL

Hitachi

Grupo Roble

Delivery Hero (Pedidos Ya)

Work highlights

  • Advising First Transit de Panama, which provides management services to Transporte Masivo de Panamá, the concessionaire for the operation of Panama’s Metrobus system, on the hiring of foreign employees, designing compensation packages and compliance with labour legislation.

Arias

Arias has a strong roster of multinational clients with subsidiaries in Panama, and is particularly experienced in advising these clients on the labour aspects of mergers and spin-offs. As the Panamanian arm of a regional firm, the team is highly active in advising on multi-jurisdictional transactions involving labour issues, alongside the firm's other offices in Central America. In addition, the team assists with employment contracts and termination agreements, employee compensation plans, and day-to-day employment issues, advising clients from a wide range of sectors, but particularly pharmaceuticals, food and logistics. Panama managing partner Siaska SSS Lorenzo leads the team; as head of the firm's regulatory and compliance department, she has notable strength in advising clients in heavily regulated industries on employment matters.

Practice head(s):

Siaska SSS Lorenzo

Key clients

Johnson & Johnson

FedEx

3M

Mondelez

Publicar

Miguelez

Rowe/Roemmers/Leterago/Megapharma

Intcomex

Eurofarma Panama

Sabre

Ortho Clinical Diagnostics

Basf/Master Builders Solutions

Disney/20th Century Fox

Nielsen

ECIJA

The 'highly skilled' and 'detail-oriented' Antonio Alberto Vargas leads the team at global firm ECIJA, which established its presence in Panama through a merger with local firm Shamah, Vargas & Córdoba in November 2019. The firm has specialist expertise in the sports, pharmaceuticals, logistics and NGO sectors, and is particularly active in contentious labour matters, regularly defending its clients against claims brought by former employees, including high-level executives. The team has also assisted with labour matters arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, including the suspension of labour contracts, reduction of working hours and implementation of teleworking policies. Its diverse client roster includes large local companies, as well as the Panamanian subsidiaries of multinationals.

Practice head(s):

Antonio Alberto Vargas

Testimonials

‘The firm’s strengths are that the lawyers clearly work together as a team and they are always ready to provide clear, rapid and assertive answers to our questions. The service is excellent.’

‘What makes the difference is the availability and flexibility of the lawyers. Antonio Vargas is patient, highly skilled in negotiation, an expert in labour matters and detail-oriented.’

‘Prompt, excellent client service and tailor-made advice.’

‘Antonio Vargas is an excellent lawyer, who is focused on the needs of the client and provides solutions that are tailored to the client in a timely manner.’

‘ECIJA Panama has a team of professionals with experience in this area, not only at a theoretical level, but in practice. They understand the issues of jurisprudence and help our company to evaluate work situations with a wide perspective.’

‘The lawyers stand out for their availability, dynamic approach and ability to address situations that have never arisen before, for example all the labour issues stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic. Antonio Vargas has been a key part of our company, advising on how to protect the interests of both the company and the workers.’

‘They are very professional but also have a personal touch. They are always able to innovate.’

‘The team stand out for their respect, confidentiality, punctuality and humanity towards clients. Antonio Vargas is an excellent lawyer.’

Key clients

DHL Panama

Mercantil Farmacéutica (Mefasa Panama)

Agricenter Panama

Foster International Corporation

Jean Center

Distribuidora Panatex

Fundación Danilo Pérez

Fútbol con Corazón (FCC)

Work highlights

  • Advised DHL Panama on all employment issues relating to the deployment of its Disaster Prevention Team, which supplied warehouses and distributed food rations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Advising Mercantil Farmacéutica, part of the global pharmaceutical group Profarmaco, on employment issues relating to the impact of Covid-19, including the suspension of contracts, terminations, the reduction of working hours and the implementation of teleworking.
  • Acting for Agricenter in a claim against it brought by a former senior executive.

Fabrega Molino

Fabrega Molino has considerable strength in advising on the labour aspects of corporate matters, including M&A and reorganisations, as well as assisting with employment contracts and sensitive terminations (including involving senior executives), internal policies on equality and sexual harassment, labour litigation, trade union negotiations and collective bargaining agreements, and immigration issues. Recently, the team has been particularly active advising on compliance with Covid-19 regulations issued by the government. The practice advises both local clients and large multinationals, with particular expertise in the pharmaceutical and maritime sectors. Practice head Miguel Urriola has a wide range of experience in litigation, collective bargaining negotiations and the employment aspects of corporate transactions. He is supported by senior associate Lourdes Bishop, who focuses on compliance and claims prevention.

Practice head(s):

Miguel Urriola

LOVILL

LOVILL‘s ‘solid and dynamic‘ team counts companies from a broad range of sectors, including tourism, entertainment, financial services, logistics, pharmaceuticals and transport, among its clients. It is active in advising multinationals with operations in Panama on the labour aspects of winding down and restructuring, but also assists with employment contracts, terminations, the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements, labour disputes, the creation of discrimination and inclusion policies, immigration issues and compliance with changing government regulations during the pandemic. ‘Intelligent, dedicated and well-organised‘ senior associate Jeannette Bravo, who has particular expertise in advising international clients on labour and immigration matters, leads the practice with head of corporate Elizabeth Heurtematte and disputes specialist Isabel Cristina López.

Practice head(s):

Jeannette Bravo; Isabel Cristina López; Elizabeth Heurtematte

Testimonials

‘The labour team at Lovill has vast experience. It is a young, solid and dynamic team which knows how to work under pressure, especially Jeannette Marie Bravo, who stands out in this practice for her availability and her success in solving clients’ problems. Unlike other law firms, Lovill’s labour team is willing to go the extra mile to resolve any problem or labour dispute that their clients have.’

‘Jeannette Bravo stands out. Despite being young, she has a lot of experience, is very organised and optimistic, knows how to negotiate in favour of her clients, cares about her clients, shows initiative, is willing to face challenges and, most importantly, seeks to provide the best solutions to her clients – that is, she focuses on results.’

‘Lovill’s labour practice is very good. They are always up-to-date on labour regulations and they explain the issues to their clients very well. In an emergency, they have always provided the necessary support.’

‘Jeannette Bravo’s preparation in legal matters is very good and she always knows all about our matters. She is also very good at explaining all the alternatives, so we always have options when making decisions.’

‘Jeannette Bravo is respected and admired for her knowledge and proactivity. She is intelligent, dedicated and well-organised, and always has a solution at hand for her clients.’

Key clients

Unilever

SGS Panamá

Banco Lafise Panamá

Ceva Logistics

Grupo Terra

Dekel

Gresinsa

Atrio Mall

Sofistic

Telecable

Visa

Isthmian Investment Corporation

Hacienda San José

MiFinanciera

SBA Communications Panama

Central Latinoamericana de Valores (Latinclear)

Financiera Turbocash

El Carmen Investments

Work highlights

  • Advised private security company Gresinsa on various labour matters, including the application of Covid regulations and negotiations with the employees’ union.
  • Advised El Carmen Investments, the manager of the Double Tree by Hilton hotel in Panama City, on the wind-down of its operations and the termination agreements of around 80 employees.
  • Represented Central Latinoamerica de Valores (Latinclear) in parallel litigation proceedings before the labour courts of Panama, brought by the client’s former general manager.