Semana Santa, Easter week, is just around the corner and it is longer this year.
Law 8442 reformed the Labor Code, Law 2, Article 148, last year moving several holidays from their calendar day to the following Monday. The holidays include April 11, July 25, Aug. 15, and Oct. 12. This year April 11 falls on Tuesday of Semana Santa week. Based on the law, the day will be celebrated Monday, April 17, thereby extending the holiday.
Customarily, San José closes down for the Easter holiday, and almost everyone heads for the beach. This year most people will be able to leave after work on Friday, April 7, and can holiday until Tuesday, April 18.
Yes, Monday, April 10, Tuesday, April 11, and Wednesday, April 12, are theoretically work days, but savvy Ticos make their plans early, requesting vacation time so they can take off the whole week. Most governmental institutions, including the courts and the Registro Nacional close for Semana Santa.
Employees don’t have all the breaks. The legal work week here is 48 hours or, usually, six days.
In addition, there are two kinds of holidays in Costa Rica, paid and unpaid.
The nine paid holidays are Jan. 1 (New Year’s), April 11 (Juan Santamaría Day), Holy Thursday and Holy Friday during Easter Week, May 1 (Labor Day), July 25 (Annexation of Guanacaste Day), Aug. 15 (Mother’s Day), Sept. 15 (Costa Rica Independence Day), and Dec. 25 (Christmas Day).
The two unpaid holidays are Aug. 2 (La Virgin de Los Angeles) and Oct. 12, Cultural Day, known as Christopher Columbus Day in the United States and el Día de la Raza in other Latin countries.
Costa Rican law requires employers to pay their employees for paid holidays. If employers obligate employees to work, they must pay them double time.
The law also requires employers to allow their employees to enjoy unpaid holidays. If employees are required to work on an unpaid holiday, they also have the right to double time.
Employees paid weekly or every two weeks have the right to be paid for their day of rest if a holiday falls on that day. Most people do not know this and do not pay employees for such days. Employees have the right to a single day’s pay.
The law contemplates that all workers paid every 15 days or monthly are paid for their day of rest, thus are paid when a holiday falls on that day. However, employees paid weekly or every two weeks are not compensated for their day off, so should be paid back when a holiday falls on the rest day.
Labor Laws are strict in Costa Rica. Courts can award back pay to any employee who does not receive his or her due plus interest and penalties.
Plan early this year to prepare for the long Easter week. Put the changes on the calendar for the special holidays which move to Monday. Don’t get caught showing up at the office when the employees are still at the beach enjoying the sun and a cold piña colada.