Costa Rican Congress Approves Reduction of Workday in Response to Covid-19

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In the first debate Costa Rican deputies approved the bill presented by the Ministry of Work that will allow employers whose businesses are suffering a substantial reduction of their income to bring down their employees’ workdays by as much as 50%.

This is a temporary measure in response to the state of emergency declared by the Costa Rican Government due to the crisis caused by Covid-19.

The bill would allow employers to bring down the number of hours worked by some or all employees by as much as 50% in the case of companies that have experienced a decrease in their income of at least 20%, in the case of companies that see their income reduced by as much as 60% they can bring down the workday as much as 75%.

This measure can be applied for a period of three months but can be extended for two additional periods for a maximum of 9 months. Once the company’s conditions go back to normal the employees can resume their work under the original contract.

Once the bill is approved, companies can proceed to apply this measure BUT they must present in a period of no more than three days after they made the changes, proof to the Ministry of Labor, including an affidavit, financial statements, and any other document that confirms the decrease in their income; at that point, the Ministry of Labor will evaluate the documents presented and extend the pertinent authorization to the company.

If the request is turned down by the Ministry, then employees will be entitled to receive the difference that was deducted from their salary in a term of 8 days.

In the case of companies that have been closed in the past days such as bars, casinos and dance clubs, all these businesses need is to request the visit of an inspector to confirm the closure and authorize the measure.

Pregnant women, those in maternity leave or in the nursing period cannot be considered for workday reduction.

Another option that is being considered is the temporary suspension of the work contract.

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