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Official Vacation days and Holidays in Costa Rica

Official Vacation days and Holidays in Costa RicaLearn which official vacation days and holidays in Costa Rica are paid and which are not. (updated 21/11/2016)

Many of you have never had any employees and if you did have them in another country, the rules were quite different. Welcome to Costa Rica, the land of sunshine and the end of your worries.

But…… have no worries, you can learn all you need to about the rules on vacation days and holidays here.

When you move to Costa Rica, for sure you will have a full-time maid and a gardener, or at least part-time. These employees will be part of your new lifestyle. That means you will have to pay them for their efforts and they have the right to holidays.

When you live in Costa Rica, you will probably hire a maid or a gardener and you will have to give them vacation days and holidays. If you plan to have a business in Costa Rica, the rules are generally a bit different than in your home country. It all depends on how often you pay the employee: by the week, fortnight or by the month.  This article will explain what your obligations are on vacation days and holidays.

This article was written as a service to those who live in Costa Rica or plan to move to Costa Rica by Easy Properties in Costa Rica. A maid and gardener in Costa Rica are part of your cost of living. As an employer, inform yourself about these vacation days and holidays rules. To purchase Costa Rica real estate contact us now.

Official Vacation days and Holidays in Costa Rica

Holidays in Costa Rica

What are holidays in Costa Rica? Every working person is granted holidays, according to the law. They are able to participate in special celebrations, whether civil, religious, social or historical.

There are two types of holidays:

Paid Holidays (Mandatory Holidays)

It is mandatory to pay employees on these days and give them the day off. If the employee still has to work, the day is paid double.

  • 1st of January (Circumcision-New Year)
  • 11th of April (Juan Santamaria Day)
  • Maundy Thursday and Good Friday (in April)
  • 1st of May (Labor Day)
  • 25th of July (Annexation of Nicoya)
  • 15th of August (Mother’s Day and the Assumption of the Virgin)
  • 15th of September (National Day: Independence of Costa Rica)
  • 25th December (Birth of Jesus Christ)

Unpaid Holidays (NOT mandatory)

Mandatory holidays for employees who get paid twice a month are:

  • 2nd of August (day of the Virgin de Los Angeles)
  • 12th of October (Columbus Day)

These days are NOT mandatory for those who get paid every week.

Official Vacation days and Holidays in Costa Rica

Which holidays are moved to another date by the Government?

Officially, only the 12th of October can be moved to another day. When this day falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, the employer must have the employee work that day. Then, the holiday should be moved to Monday.

If these are companies that are open on Saturdays and Sundays and cannot stop its work on Monday, the employees will have their holiday on the day agreed on with the employer. Provided that their holiday is given within a period not exceeding fifteen days from the date of the official holiday. The other holidays are enjoyed on the day that corresponds.

Is the employee obliged to work on a holiday?

All workers are entitled to enjoy the holidays, whether wages are paid monthly, fortnightly or weekly. In principle, it is forbidden to oblige the employees to the workers to work on holidays. No matter is payment is mandatory or not mandatory.

What happens if an employee does not work on the holiday?

If the salary is paid weekly and you’are not dedicated to a business/commercial business, only the mandatory holidays have to be paid. The non-mandatory holidays are not paid unless the employee works.

If the payment is monthly or bimonthly in any activity or even weekly in business/commercial, you must pay for all the holidays. No matter if those holidays are mandatory or not. For this reason, when the holidays are not worked, the employer is not required to pay the worker any additional sum.

What if the employee works on the holiday?

There is a marked difference between employees in the commercial sector and the private sector.

Non-commercial activity

If payment is weekly you should pay a double salary if it is a mandatory holiday.

You should pay the normal salary when a holiday is not mandatory.

Commercial activity

If the payment is monthly, bi-monthly or weekly, you should double pay for the holiday worked.

You should pay the normal salary when a holiday is not mandatory.

How should I pay the employee that works on a weekly rest day?

  • The mandatory holiday that falls on that day of rest must be paid as a normal salary.
  • Non-mandatory holidays, the payment has not to be made.
  • Weekly paid employees working in a non-business/commercial activity since normally that day is not being paid.
  • If the employees are paid for every day of the month (thirty days), you should not add anything for a holiday, since it is already paid for in the regular salary.

How should you pay for the holiday if the employee works overtime?

If the salary is monthly, the regular working hours should be paid double. And for each hour of overtime 1.50 (one and a half time) but calculated on double time, corresponding to the holiday worked. This will be calculated as follows:

For example: If the normal working day is paid ¢ 10.000.00,  you add another ¢10.000.00 to complete the double payment. Then divide ¢20.000.00 ÷ 8 (hours) for the dual time is ¢ 2,500.00 and then multiplied by 1.5 =¢ 3.750.00. This sum is to be added for each hour of overtime.

If it is paid weekly (on non-commercial activity), it is the same calculation if it is a mandatory holiday. When the holiday is not mandatory, you calculate this as the normal payment and not the double.

How many days of vacation?

Every working person is entitled to two weeks of vacation equal to twelve days plus two days of rest at least every fifty weeks of continuous work, serving the same person or employer. This is regardless of the working week having eight hours, six hours, half day or an hour a day or several days a week.

Official holidays in Costa Rica

How to calculate the payment for vacation?

The vacation is calculated based on the average of ordinary and extraordinary wages received during the last week in the case of agricultural work. Or during the last fifty weeks in any other activities, counted from the moment that the worker acquires the right to have holidays. The payment will also depend on the method of payment.

  • Weekly pay: you must pay twelve (12) days a year because the day of rest is not paid in this salary. The calculation is done by taking the weekly salary divided by 6 and multiplying the result by 12.
  • Monthly or fortnightly: you must pay fourteen (14) days since the payment includes two days off per week. The calculation is done by taking the monthly salary divided by 30 and multiplying the result by 14.
  • In the case of commercial/business activities: even if the form of payment is weekly for the purposes of the following formula, take the weekly salary divided by 7 and multiplying the result by 14.

Should the vacation be taken without interruption?

Employees should have no interruption of their vacation period. The vacations can be divided into two parts:

  • When the employer and the employee both agree.
  • Provided that the nature of work does not permit a very prolonged absence of the employee.

Who has the authority to set a date for the vacation?

The employer shall indicate the period in which the worker can enjoy the vacation. This must be done at least fifteen weeks before the day that the employees have worked for the first fifty weeks of continuous service (11.5 months). And trying not to alter the smooth running of your workplace or the effectiveness of rest.

Can you compensate for the vacation?

Employers cannot compensate for vacation days except:

  1. At the end of the employment relationship.
  2. When the work is casual or piecework.
  3. When for some justified reason the worker has not enjoyed their vacation. The employee may agree with the employer to pay the excess of the minimum of two weeks vacation for every fifty weeks. If not exceeding the equivalent of three cumulative periods. This compensation may not be granted if the worker has received this benefit in the previous two years.

Can the employee accumulate vacation time?

Employees are prohibited to accumulate holidays, except when the employee performs technical work, management, of trust or similar. This makes it difficult especially for the replacement. Or when the family residence is situated in the province other than the place where it provides services.

Do we need written evidence of vacation days taken?

Yes, we do. At the request of the employer or the employee, the vacation dates and accumulations that are agreed upon must be in a written record. If not in a written record, is presumed until proven otherwise, that the vacation has not been given.

How many vacation days correspond to an employee before the fifty weeks?

Employees cannot enjoy proportional fulfillment before the fifty weeks by law. Only if the contract of employment ends before reaching the fifty weeks. The employee is entitled to receive payment settlement for one day for each month worked, in case of resignation or dismissal of the worker.

Can an employer give notice during the vacation period?

Yes. Because the employment relationship is in force. But only provided that it is an employee who is enjoying the vacation days earned with the fifty weeks of continuous work. In case the vacation days are an advancement, it would not be appropriate.

Do employees who practice a religion other than Catholicism have additional rights?

Employees can celebrate their religious festivals in addition to the eleven public holidays listed above if they practice a religion other than the Catholic religion. To do so they may ask the employer to grant them no more than four days off per year. These vacation days must be registered in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship. The employer may discount those days as holidays, by agreement between the employer and the employee, instead of payment.

Official vacation days and holidays in Costa Rica

What happens if the employee has a different religion than the holiday is celebrating?

The employer should pay the employee’s salary for that day if the employer decides to close the business any other day, for reasons of religious faith, not set by law.

Can a disability affect the enjoyment of a vacation?

The suspension of a disability during the employment relationship.
If this article about Official Vacation days and Holidays in Costa Rica has been of help, we appreciate your real estate business.

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Ivo Henfling

Your West-side of San Jose real estate agent, covering Escazu and Santa Ana, Rohrmoser and Ciudad Colon. If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the Central Valley or looking for any property for sale in Escazu or Santa Ana, you need to contact Costa Rica real estate agent Ivo Henfling. Ivo has been selling Costa Rica real estate on the westside of San Jose, in the locations of Rohrmoser, Sabana, Escazu, Santa Ana and Ciudad Colon for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and those other areas. For Ivo, a deal is not a good one unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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2 thoughts on “Official Vacation days and Holidays in Costa Rica”

  • catherina camarda

    21 September, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    If a feriado falls on an hourly employee’s regular day off, is he entitled to be paid for the day?

    • Ivo Henfling

      22 September, 2018 at 7:53 am

      If it’s on a Saturday on a Sunday, no Catherina, you don’t have to pay that day. That’s why they usually try to move it to a Monday.


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