Costa Rican Code Of Labor Overhauled After Years Of Discussion

Author:Mr Francisco Salas
Profession:BDS Asesores

After seven years of discussion, the Congress of Costa Rica has finally approved that country's Labor Procedure Reform. This marks the most significant overhaul of Costa Rica's individual and collective labor law regime, and the procedure for related lawsuits, since the Labor Code was promulgated in 1943.

Introduced in 2005, Labor Law Procedure Reform was stalled by its low priority status in the legislative calendar. This year it finally caught the attention of the Legislative Chamber's members, and received the approval of Congress in September. The Reform brings long-awaited changes on three fronts: individual, collective labor law, and lawsuit procedures.

At the individual level, changes will protect the rights of vulnerable employees. The penalties for dismissing a pregnant worker are increased, and social background, sexual preference, union involvement and marital status have been added as prohibited grounds of discrimination. A new summary procedure has also been created for worker claims of discriminatory dismissal.

In collective labor law, the Reform includes modifications that bring the country in line with directives of the International Labor Organization (ILO). For example, the Reform fills the gap left in 2011 when Costa Rica's Constitutional Chamber declared the obligation of having a 60% of support in order to declare a legal strike to be unconstitutional. The Reform states that only a 50% of the attendees of a general assembly of a company's employees is necessary to declare a strike. Further, unions will gain the right to promote and sustain strikes. Important changes were also made to the strike procedure, the alternative resolution of conflicts and related issues.

Some of the most dramatic changes to the collective regime are on hold due to a partial veto...

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