Employees are paid double if they choose to work on a public holiday

Q COSTA RICA – This Semana Santa is a week with three – count them, one, two, three – paid holidays: Tuesday (today, April 11), Thursday (April 13) and Friday (April 14).

What does that mean to you?

If you are an employee, this week you get three days off work with pay, in addition to Saturday and Sunday if you do not normally work those days. That means, If you are the type of person who doesn’t need a day off, you will get paid for eight days of work for working only five.

If you are an employer, you will either be giving your employee(s) off three paid days this week or ben paying out three extra days of salaries, a total of eight days, for the five days of work.

The main difference between a paid legal holiday (feriado obligatorio in Spanish) that total nine in the year, in accordance with Article 11 of the Codigo de Trabajo de Costa Rica (Labour Code) , the employee cannot be required to work on the holiday, nor can an employer sanction an employee refusing to work on the holiday; For non-paid legal holiday (feriado de no pago obligatorio), of which there are two, an employee who does not work on the holiday does not get paid. That is, if an employee does work the holiday, they recevie their normal salary.

The Labour Code is very strict on the subject of holidays, in that an employer cannot threaten or sanction an employee who refuses to work on the holiday. That is, it is entirely up to the employee if he or she chooses to work on that day. If they do choose to work on the holiday, they are to be paid double for the day, triple in the case of overtime.

Some employers make deals like work today (the holiday) and get a day off next week. That only flies if the employee agrees. Period.

The paid legal holiday applies equally to the private and public sector, and regardless of whether the company is national or international.

Sanctions for employers not complying with the legal holiday rules range from one to 23 basic salaries. Those amounts range from ¢426,000 to ¢9,802,600 if the sanction is applied to the first half of 2017.

Article 148 of the Labour Code establishes the legal (paid) holidays as:

  1. January 1 (New Year’s)
  2. April 11 (Juan Santamaria Day)
  3. Good Thursday
  4. Good Friday
  5. May 1  (Labour Day)
  6. July 25 (Annexation of Guanacaste)
  7. August 15 (Mother’s Day)
  8. September 15 (Independence Day)
  9. December 25 (Christmas)

The two non-paid holidays are:

  • August 2
  • October 12


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