While the central government, autonomous agencies and a number of businesses are in holiday mode starting today and for the most part are back at work on January 7, the legal holidays are December 25 and January 1.

The provisions of the Labor Code Código de Trabajo are clear, no person (except for essential services) is obliged to work on legal holidays. Nor can they be sanctioned for deciding not to work on those days.

However, if a person chooses to work on December 25 and January, they have the right to receive double pay. Overtime is paid at triple pay.

For weekly, bi-weekly (quincena in Spanish) or monthly salaried employees, they get the days off and receive the same salary. If they are required to work on those days, they will be paid extra in addition to their regular salary.

Although in practice if occurs, an employer cannot demand a employee to work those days and take the holidays on a different date. That is, a person who is required to work (even if accepts it voluntarily) on December 25 and January 1 is paid double pay. Period.

The legal holidays

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • April 11 – Juan Santamaria Day
  • Thursday and Friday of Easter Week (Semana Santa)
  • May 1 – Labor Day
  • July 25 – Anexation of Guanacaste
  • August 15 – the ‘Mother” of all holidays
  • September 15 – Independence Day
  • Decemb 25 – Christmas

Other holidays like August 2 (Virgin of Los Angeles Day) and October 12 (Day of the Culture Encounter, or Discovery of America) are “no pag obligatorio”, that is you get paid only if you work the day.


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