QCOSTARICA – Some 215,772 workers will not receive their Aguinaldo (Christmas bonus) as they imagined at the start of the year.
That is the number of workers who, until November 27, had their working hours reduced or their contract suspended by the Ministry of Labor, due to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on economic activity.
But despite this situation, employers have the obligation to pay the Aguinaldo by December 20. And they cannot claim bankruptcy in order not to do so.
“Obviously the pandemic could have thrown some companies into a bankruptcy process … and depending on the assets they have or the seizure made on the assets of the company, workers will have their Aguinaldo or liquidation protected,” explained Ricardo Marín, Vice Minister of Labor.
Another aspect that should be taken into account by employees to whom suspensions or reductions of working hours were applied and therefore will receive a lower amount of the Aguinaldo, is that those processes requested by their employer must be validated by the Ministry of Labor; otherwise, there is an illegality.
Employers have until December 20 to pay the Aguinaldo.
Or course, employers can even negotiate payment in parts with their workers, but must be fully paid by December 20.
“After December 20, the payment must be complete, that is the term established by law. It may be that the employer says today the first of December I pay them 50% and the 15 the other 50%, but after the 20th it becomes a violation of the Labor Law. There can be negotiation, but the amount cannot be negotiated, and the worker cannot waive the full amount,” clarified Marín.
After the date, complaints may be received both from those who have not received anything and from those who have received a part or miscalculated them.
To deal with these complaints, the Ministry of Labor has reinforced the number of officials from 72 to 105, who must visit the employer once a complaint is received. If in a second visit the infraction has not been corrected, judicial action will follow.
While December 20 is the last day to pay the Aguinaldo, many employers pay their workers before that, including some have already paid.
As to public sector employeers (civil servants), their Aguinaldo will be deposited to their bank accounts starting today. The cost is some ¢220 billion colones paid to the 139,000 active employees of the Central Government and more than 63,000 pensioners.
The Aguinaldo is the month average of gross earnings between December 1 of the past year and November 30 of the current year. For simplicity sake, all earnings are tallied and divided by 12, to calculate the 13th salary.