Leave policy in Costa Rica

Leave policy in Costa Rica
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One responsibility employers face when hiring internationally is complying with the local leave laws where their employees reside. The process gets significantly more complicated as employers hire individuals living in various countries that all have unique leave requirements.

To understand how to incorporate an employee leave policy in Costa Rica, employers will need to familiarize themselves with all relevant leave requirements in the country, including annual leave, sick leave, parental leave, and more.

The time and risk associated with international hiring are substantial, especially when hiring employees based in multiple foreign countries. Because of this, employers should consider partnering with an employer of record (EOR) like Skuad when employing individuals living in Costa Rica. When you partner with an EOR, all administrative aspects of international employment are handled for you, ensuring you remain compliant with all local legal requirements.

Continue reading this guide to learn about the mandatory minimum leave requirements to which employees in Costa Rica are entitled.

Annual leave in Costa Rica

According to The Labor Code of Costa Rica (LC), employers in Costa Rica must provide employees with two weeks of paid annual leave for every 50 weeks the employee works (this comes out to roughly two weeks per year). Employees can take this time off all at once or over two periods.  

This time off is in addition to the nine days of paid public holiday leave employees are entitled to each year. When an employee's employment contract is terminated, the employer must pay them for any unused vacation days.

If an employee hasn't been continuously employed for 50 weeks when their employment contract is terminated, they are entitled to one day of paid vacation time per month of employment.

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Public holidays in Costa Rica

There are 13 nationally recognized public holidays in Costa Rica. Employers are required to give employees a paid day off for nine of these holidays, listed below:

  • New Year's Day
  • Juan Santamaria Day
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • Labor Day
  • Guanacaste Day
  • Mother's Day/Assumption Day
  • Independence Day
  • Christmas Day

If an employee agrees to work on a paid public holiday, they are eligible to receive double their usual salary. Below is a list of the 13 public holidays in Costa Rica, with dates and days of observation in 2023.

2023 Costa Rica public holiday calendar

Public holiday Date of observation Day of the week
New Year's Day January 1 Sunday
Maundy Thursday April 6 Thursday
Good Friday April 7 Friday
Juan Santamaria Day April 11 Tuesday
Labor Day May 1 Monday
Guanacaste Day July 25 Tuesday
Lady of the Angels Day August 2 Wednesday
Assumption Day August 15 Tuesday
Mother's Day August 15 Tuesday
Black and Afro-Costa Rican Culture Day September 3 Sunday
Independence Day September 15 Friday
Abolition of the Army December 1 Friday
Christmas Day December 25 Monday

Sick leave in Costa Rica

Employees in Costa Rica are entitled to take time off when suffering from an illness or injury that prevents them from performing their typical job duties. However, employers are only responsible for compensating employees for the first three days of sick leave with 50 percent of the employee's typical daily salary.

If an employee wishes to receive total compensation for their sick leave, they will need to provide the Costa Rican Social Security Administration, called Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social ( CCSS), with a doctor's note that verifies their inability to work. Employees are responsible for filing this claim themselves. At this point, CCSS will compensate them for the remaining 50 percent of their salary for the first three days of sick leave and will cover 60 percent of their salary onward.

While employers will not be required to pay more than a partial salary for the first three days, they will still be expected to provide employees with any necessary leave time.

Voting leave in Costa Rica

Employers are required to provide employees with time off to vote. This leave requires employers to compensate employees for the time it takes them to travel to a voting center, cast their vote, and return.

Parental leave in Costa Rica

Employees in Costa Rica are entitled to parental leave that employers must comply with. Therefore, even if an employer is not financially responsible for providing paid leave time, they will need to give employees the time off.

Below are the types of parental leave to which employees in Costa Rica are entitled.

Maternity leave in Costa Rica

Pregnant employees living in Costa Rica are entitled to the following maternity leave benefits:

  • Employees who give birth are entitled to four months of maternity leave, which can begin one month before their due date and extend through the first three months of their child's life.
  • Employees with complicated pregnancies and births that result in the termination of their pregnancy or the death of their child are entitled to two months of maternity leave.

If the employee's physical health is compromised due to these circumstances, the employee is entitled to up to three months of maternity leave.

To be eligible for the above benefits, the employee must provide their employer with a doctor's note stating their projected due date at least five weeks before the beginning of their leave time.

Similar to sick leave, employers in Costa Rica are expected to pay half of the employee's typical salary for the duration of their maternity leave. The employee will receive additional compensation from CCSS.

Note: Employers must contribute 5.42 percent of their employee's total salaries to CCSS when hiring in Costa Rica (as well as withhold additional employee contributions from their wages).

Breastfeeding break leave in Costa Rica

In addition to offering maternity leave benefits, employers must offer accommodations to employees who have recently given birth once they've returned to work.

Employees are entitled to choose any one arrangement from the following breastfeeding break schedules in Costa Rica

  • Shorten their work day by an hour at the beginning or end of the day to accommodate breastfeeding
  • Take a one-hour break at the beginning of their work day to breastfeed
  • Take a one-hour break at the end of their work day to breastfeed
  • Take one fifteen-minute break for every three hours of work
  • Take two thirty-minute breaks per workday

In addition to these breastfeeding breaks, employees who physically go to work (i.e., don't work remotely) are entitled to access a designated work area where they can breastfeed or pump.

Paternity leave in Costa Rica

Recent updates to Costa Rica's leave laws added new employee paternity leave benefits. Under these regulations, employees whose partners have given birth to their biological children are entitled to eight days of paid paternity leave, which can be taken in two-day increments over the first month of their child's life.

In addition to this entitlement, paternity leave benefits are extended if a new father's partner passes away. If the child's mother dies during childbirth or the post-partum period, her maternity leave benefits pass on to the child's biological father. This means that the employee can claim up to three months of paternity leave after the birth of their child.

Like maternity leave benefits, the employee's compensation for these days is split equally between their employer and CCSS.

Adoption leave in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, employees are entitled to paid leave when they adopt one or more children. Adoption leave benefits are available to both of the adoptive parents and include three months of paid leave from the time of adoption.

Adoptive parents can choose how to allocate this leave in one of the following ways:

  • One parent takes the total leave entitlement
  • Both parents share the leave equally, each taking one and a half months of paid leave
  • Both parents take a portion of the three-month leave, which they divide however they see fit

Each adoptive parent's employer is responsible for funding half of their employee's paid leave time, and CCSS will cover the remaining portion.

Partner with Skuad to ensure compliance in Costa Rica

Remaining compliant with all aspects of international hiring is challenging, especially for employers with an employment base spanning numerous countries. But global employment doesn't need to be complicated or expensive.

Partnering with an employer of record like Skuad ensures total compliance with all local legislation in every country we operate and makes it easy to hire new global employees whenever you feel like it.

In addition, employers of record navigate the challenging administrative and legal aspects of international hiring, like same-day onboarding, managing international payroll, and providing statutory benefits, which means you can access global talent without the barriers that typically exist when operating in foreign countries.

If you're ready to start hiring employees in Costa Rica and other foreign countries, request a demo to see what Skuad can do for your global business.

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