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Costa Rica

Vacation and Leave Policies

Understand the regulations on vacation and other types of leave in Costa Rica

Holiday leave

In Costa Rica, employees who have fulfilled certain eligibility criteria are guaranteed paid vacation leave, also known as annual leave, as per the Labor Code.


According to Article 153 of the Labor Code, employees who have served continuously for 50 weeks with the same employer are entitled to two weeks (12 working days) of paid annual leave.


The accrual of vacation leave is a gradual process. It's crucial to understand that employees cannot avail all of their leave at the start of their employment period.


The scheduling of vacations should be a mutual agreement between employers and employees. The goal is to prevent any disruption in the continuity of work while taking into account the employee's need for rest.


Employees are entitled to their regular wages during their annual leave period.

Unused Leave

Employees have the option to accumulate unused vacation leave for a period of up to two consecutive years.

Collective Agreements

Collective bargaining agreements may offer more generous vacation leave entitlements than the minimum requirements outlined in the Labor Code.

Record Keeping

Employers are required to keep accurate records of employees' vacation leave accrual and usage.

Public holidays

Costa Rica celebrates a variety of secular, religious (primarily Catholic), and historical holidays throughout the year.

Secular Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1st): This day marks the beginning of the Gregorian calendar year.
  • Juan SantamarĂ­a Day (April 11th): This day commemorates the national hero Juan SantamarĂ­a and his role in the Battle of Rivas during the Campaign of 1856-1857.
  • Labor Day (May 1st): This day honors workers' contributions to society.
  • Annexation of Guanacaste Day (July 25th): This day celebrates the annexation of the Guanacaste province to Costa Rica in 1824.
  • Mother's Day (August 15th): This day honors mothers and their role in society.
  • Independence Day (September 15th): This day commemorates Costa Rica's declaration of independence from Spain in 1821.
  • Abolition of the Army Day (December 1st): This day celebrates the abolition of the Costa Rican army in 1948.

Religious Holidays (Primarily Catholic)

  • Holy Thursday (March/April): This day commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his apostles. The date varies annually.
  • Good Friday (March/April): This day commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The date varies annually.
  • Virgin of Los Angeles Day (August 2nd): This day celebrates the patron saint of Costa Rica.
  • Christmas Day (December 25th): This day celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.

Types of leave

In Costa Rica, the primary law governing leave entitlements for employees is the Costa Rican Labor Code. There are several types of leave available to employees, each with its own set of rules and regulations.

Annual Leave

Employees become eligible for 2 weeks (12 working days) of paid annual leave after completing 50 weeks of continuous service with the same employer. Leave accrues over time and cannot be taken all at once at the beginning of an employment period. Employers and employees should mutually agree upon vacation timing, considering the company's operational needs and the employee's preference for rest. Employees receive their regular wages during their annual leave period. Employees can accumulate unused vacation leave for up to two consecutive years.

Sick Leave

Employees may be entitled to paid sick leave with a valid medical certificate. However, the Labor Code does not explicitly mandate paid sick days. Sick leave provisions are often covered in collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, or internal company policies. Generally, a medical certificate is required to substantiate sick leave.

Maternity Leave

Female employees are entitled to 4 months of paid maternity leave, typically divided into 1 month before and 3 months after childbirth. Eligible women receive maternity pay, typically through the social security system that covers the majority of their wages.

Other Types of Leave

While the Labor Code doesn't explicitly mandate bereavement leave, employers might grant employees a short leave period (up to 3 days) in the event of the death of a close family member. Compassionate grounds or company policy often govern this benefit. Employees who are enrolled in qualified educational programs might be eligible for study leave upon providing a formal proof of enrollment. Employees may also be entitled to leave for fulfilling specific civic duties, like jury service or attending the polls.

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