Sunday, February 2 , the day that Costa Ricans elect a new president and legislative assembly, is just around the corner. Many in Costa Rica work on Sundays, but not to worry, an employer cannot prevent an employee from going to the polls.

voting-costaricaUnder the Constitution, every citizen, every four years and who is on the registered voters lists, has a civic duty to vote and no employer can prevent such person from taking time off work – including the day if that is required – to vote.

Although there is not set time or how much time can be taken off work, the right to vote is governed by the principle of good faith and loyalty.

Erico Briones, an expert in labour law, explained it to, that the time off the employee needs depends on several factors: the distance between the employment and the registered voting place, available transportation and working hours, for example, if an employee works in La Uruca an lives in Pavas, the time off work could be minutes. But the same employee living in Cartago, would require hours.

Any employer who refuses an employee the right or impedes their ability to vote, is exposed to a fine of between 1 and 23 minimum wages, which in real terms is between ¢399.400 and ¢9.186.200 colones (US$800-US$18.000 dollars). The fine is stipulated in Article 164 of the Labour Code.

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