The Legislative Assembly approved project number 21 149 reforming articles 94, 94 BIS, 95, 96, 97 and 100 of the Labor Code and adding paragraph k) to article 70 of the Labor Code.

The most important reforms are the creation of paternity leave and other special leaves, the extension and clarification related to the breastfeeding period, the modification of the Breastfeeding Rooms and the express prohibition to request pregnancy tests.


WHAT IS PATERNITY LEAVE? By this new Law, a leave for biological fathers is created, understood as the permission that the employer must grant to the new fathers to share with the newborn child and help in his/her care.


SCOPE OF PATERNITY LEAVE: Paternity leave grants the father two days per week during the first four weeks after the birth of his child.

This leave grants to the father a special privilege, thus the employer cannot fire him while he is enjoying the leave. In case the employee commits any fault established as a cause for dismissal according to article 81 of the Labor Code, the employer must request to the Ministerio de Trabajo the authorization of the dismissal without employer's liability.

If there is an unjustified dismissal, the employer must pay to the employee all the labor benefits that correspond according to the law, and add an indemnity equivalent to six salaries.


HOW IS THIS LEAVE PAID TO THE WORKER?: The payment of this leave must be covered, in equal parts, by the Costa Rican Social Security Fund and the employer.


OTHER LEAVES: This Law also created the following "special leaves":


  • Leave in case of individual or conjoint adoption: in case of adoption, a special paid leave of three months is granted if it is an individual adoption, and in case of a conjoint adoption it is divided between the adopting parents.
  • Postpartum leave: In case the mother dies in childbirth or during maternity leave, the father would be granted a postpartum leave whose beneficiary was the mother of the child. In this case the father must undertake to take care of the child. This leave would be granted to any third party worker who, in case the father is absent or does not take care of the child.


BREASTFEEDING PERIOD: This reform includes, in Article 97 of the Labor Code, the possibility of intervals to be chosen by the employee for her breastfeeding time:

  • Fifteen minutes every three hours.
  • Half an hour twice a day.
  • One hour at the beginning of your workday.
  • One hour before the end of the workday.
  • Choosing to enter an hour later or leave an hour earlier from your work site.


BREASTFEEDING ROOMS: Article 100 of the Labor Code is amended, establishing the employer's obligation to have a breastfeeding room when the employer has mothers in the workplace who are breastfeeding, regardless of the total number of women employed in the establishment.


PREGNANCY TESTS: Article 70 of the Labor Code includes the prohibition for the employer to require a medical pregnancy test for the entrance or permanence at work.


These new reforms to the Labor Code impose new obligations for employers, so it is important that companies take the necessary actions and draft internal policies in order to comply with the labor regulations and avoid any contingency.


Catalina Rivera Sanabria

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