The new legislation that authorizes companies to reduce working hours by up to 75% due to the health emergency of COVID-19 pandemic for Costa Rican society, must include gender equality and equity in its application.

It is established that when the gross income of companies is reduced by 20% or more due to the emergency, employers may request permission from the Ministry of Labor to reduce the working hours of employees by up to 50%, in order to avoid layoffs. If the reduction in income of said company exceeds 60%, the reduction in working hours may be up to 75%.

Conditions that companies must meet to apply this regulation:

  • The National Inspection Directorate of the Ministry of Labor authorizes the company to make this reduction in working hours and salary, based on documents that prove that the financial situation of the company merits the application of this measure.
  • In the event of dismissal, the labor benefits for notice period and unemployment assistance will always be calculated based on the full-time salary that the employee had.
  • The term of this reduction in working hours is for three months and can be extended for two periods, that is, for a maximum of nine months in total, as long as the conditions of the national emergency are maintained.


Measures contemplated in favor of gender equality and equity:

  • It is expressly forbidden to apply the reduction of working hours and salary or the suspension of the labor contract to pregnant women or women in the nursing period.
  • In no case may the measures affect the benefits received by women for maternity leave, medical disability, disability due to work risks or licenses for the care of sick dependents.
  • It is prohibited to apply the reduction of working hours and salary for discriminatory purposes or as retaliation to the detriment of employees.
  • The foregoing measures include that when the reduction in working hours is applied to the same type of job positions, it must be done proportionally between men and women, that is, the measure cannot be applied to a greater proportion to women.
  • Employees whose working hours are reduced may also have access to the subsidies of the unemployment programs.


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