Costa Rica

Labor Compliance Guide

Labor Requirements

The constitution and the Labor Code regulate employment in Costa Rica. On January 25, 2016, new amendments overhauling country’s labor and employment statutes were signed into law. The reforms went into effect on July 25, 2017.

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

The constitution and the Labor Code establish a 48-hour workweek for daytime work, not to exceed eight hours per day, six days per week. The Labor Code stipulates that for jobs in which the daytime work is not dangerous, a standard workday may be as long as 10 hours, but the workweek still may not exceed 48 hours.

 

This however does not apply to certain employees in managerial roles etc, in which the daily work time can be extended up to a maximum of 12 hours a day and 72 hours per week.

Overtime

An employee who works more than the fixed or agreed standard hours of work are considered as extraordinary hours of work shall be paid at the overtime rate which is fifty percent more than the minimum wages.

An employee who works in excess of the standard working hours is entitled to overtime wages at the rate of one-half the minimum wages for each extra hour of work.

Employees are not allowed to work for more than 12 hours in a day including overtime. Overtime is not allowed in jobs that are unhealthy or dangerous.

Night Work

Night work—defined as work between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.—may not exceed 36 hours per week or six hours per day. Mixed shifts that include both daytime and nighttime hours are treated as night work if more than three hours are worked after 7 p.m. Otherwise, mixed shifts are limited to seven hours per day (eight hours per day for work that is not dangerous) and 42 hours per week.

 

These limitations do not apply to managers, administrators, trustees and other employees in positions of trust, who are limited to working no more than 12 hours per day. Labor Code, Law No. 2, 1943 (as amended) arts. 105.

Breaks

Employees are entitled to 1-hour break for rest and meal in a day, which shall not be considered as part of the working hours. Employees occupying managerial posts are entitled to a minimum rest of 1.5 hours in a day.

 

Weekly Rest

An employee is entitled to 24 consecutive hours of rest after 6 days of work, and the day shall be Sunday at least twice a month. Generally, work is not allowed on the weekly rest day, except where the nature of the work does not involve heavy, unhealthy, or dangerous tasks, or an agreement exists between the employee and the employer for work to be performed on the rest days.

Work On Rest Days

Employees who work on days of rest are entitled to double pay. If overtime hours are worked on a rest day, the employee is entitled to receive triple time and a half.

Public Holidays

If employees agree to work a holiday, they are entitled to double their normal salary. If overtime hours are worked on a public holiday, the employee is entitled to receive triple time and a half. Costa Rica observes the following nine paid public holidays:

  • Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
  • April 11: Juan Santamaria Day
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • May 1: Labor Day
  • July 25: Anexion del Partido de Nicoya
  • Aug. 15: Mother’s Day and Assumption
  • Sept. 15: Independence Day
  • Dec. 25: Christmas Day

In addition, Aug. 2 (Day of Our Lady of the Angels) and Oct. 12 (Cultural Day) are holidays for which pay is not mandatory. When April 11, July 25 or Aug. 15 falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, the holiday is observed the following Monday. If the employer cannot afford a work stoppage on those Mondays, it may require employees to work but must give them another day off within 15 days of the holiday.

 

Employees who practice a religion other than Catholicism may request unpaid days off for their religious holidays, and the employer must agree to any such request up to four days a year. When such a holiday is taken, the employer and the employee will agree on a replacement workday or the day can be taken as annual leave. Labor Code, Law No. 2, 1943 (as amended) arts. 148­152.

Annual Leave

Employees are entitled to at least two weeks of paid annual leave after every 50 weeks of work for the same employer (accrued at the rate of one day per month). The employer can schedule the employee’s vacation at its convenience within 15 weeks of it having been earned. Generally, the employee must be permitted to take the entire vacation at one time.

Annual vacations are paid, and the employee receives vacation pay as an amount equivalent to the average salary earned by the employee in the last 50 weeks.

Generally, the employee must be permitted to take the entire vacation at one time. If the employee performs work of a special nature that does not permit a long absence, however, and the employee and the employer agree, annual leave may be split into no more than two segments. Unused vacation cannot generally be carried over to the following year unless the employee’s work responsibilities prevent the taking of vacation in the year earned.

Holiday accrual is generally not allowed unless the employee is engaged in technical, managerial, or similar work, in which the employee cannot be replaced by another worker or when the residence of the worker’s family is in another province.

If the employment is terminated before the 50-week period is completed, the employee is entitled to at least one day of vacation for each month and such accrued vacation will be compensated at the time of termination. 

If the employee performs work of a special nature that does not permit a long absence, however, and the employee and the employer agree, annual leave may be split into no more than two segments.+

If the employment is terminated before the 50-week period is completed, the employee is entitled to at least one day of vacation for each month and such accrued vacation will be compensated at the time of termination.

Annual vacation is not compensable except in case of termination of the employment before becoming entitled to vacation, in case of occasional or piecework jobs, or if for any reason the worker cannot take annual vacation and agrees with the employer to receive the corresponding amount to a minimum of 2 weeks of vacation. Such compensation is not provided if the employee has received the benefit in the previous 2 years. Labor Code, Law No. 2, 1943 (as amended) arts. 153­-161.

Minimum Wage

Costa Rica’s minimum wage ranges from 9,598.73 per 8 hours workday for unskilled workers to 12,537.91 per day for specialized workers.

Special Leave

Sick Leave

Employees who have made a contribution to social security in the month before becoming ill are entitled to paid sick leave. Employers must pay at least 50 percent of the employee’s salary for the first 3 days of sick leave. The other half is paid by the Social Security Fund. From the fourth day of sick leave onward, the employee receives 60 percent of his or her average earnings from Social Security and no pay from the employer.

 

However, the CCSS (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social or CCSS) compensates employees on sick leave only if the employee submits a medical certificate obtained from an accredited CCSS doctor. Labor Code, Law No. 2, 1943 (as amended) art. 236.

Maternity Leave

Maternity leave covers one month before the expected due date and three months after childbirth. The employee receives full pay, half covered by the employer and half by the Social Security Fund. To obtain paid maternity leave, the employee must provide the employer with a doctor’s certificate five weeks prior to the due date. Women who are pregnant or breast­feeding may not be terminated except for just cause. Women who are breast­feeding are entitled to a 15­minute break every three hours or a 30­minute break twice a day. Employers of 30 or more female employees must establish a room where mothers can breast­feed their children during working hours. Labor Code, Law No. 2, 1943 (as amended) arts. 4, 14, 95­97.

Paternity Leave

The Labor Code does not address paternity leave for workers in the private sector. Following a court decision in August 2013, however, public employees are entitled to eight days of paid paternity leave, whether or not the parents are married.

Adoption Leave

An employee who adopts a child is entitled to three months’ paid leave beginning on the date the child arrives. To obtain adoption leave, the employee must submit a certificate to the employer from the National Foundation for Children or a family court confirming the adoption.

Last updated on: March 18th, 2021