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Costa Rica

Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Costa Rica

Standard working hours

In Costa Rica, legal limitations on working hours are established to protect the well-being of employees. According to the Costa Rican Labor Code, a maximum workweek of 48 hours and a maximum workday of 8 hours is set for most employees. This applies to all public or private establishments, including those directed towards education or charity.

There are, however, some exceptions and variations. For instance, certain employees in managerial roles may have work schedules that exceed the daily limit, but they should not exceed a maximum of 72 hours per week.

Enforcement of these regulations can sometimes be inconsistent, particularly in the informal sector. Therefore, it is crucial for employees to be aware of their rights and ensure they adhere to the standard working hours as outlined by law or their employment contracts.


In Costa Rica, labor laws strictly regulate overtime work to ensure employee rights and fair compensation. Any work exceeding the standard 48-hour weekly limit or the 8-hour daily limit is considered overtime.

Employees can work a maximum of 4 hours of overtime per day, bringing the total daily working hours to a maximum of 12, including overtime. There's no set limit on total weekly overtime hours, but exceeding the standard 48-hour workweek triggers overtime pay regulations. It's important to note that overtime work is viewed as an exceptional measure and should only be implemented in necessary situations.

Employers are obligated to pay employees 1.5 times their regular hourly wage for overtime work, which translates to a 50% increase in pay for each overtime hour worked. Overtime work on weekends and public holidays attracts a premium rate of double the employee's regular hourly wage.

Employers cannot force employees to work overtime. Employee consent is mandatory for overtime work to be legal. Furthermore, employers are prohibited from altering employment contracts to bypass overtime pay regulations. Costa Rica's Labour Code specifically outlines these regulations regarding working hours and overtime pay.

Rest periods and breaks

Costa Rican law guarantees workers set rest periods and breaks throughout the workday to ensure their well-being and productivity.

Costa Rican workers are entitled to a minimum of one rest period during a continuous workday. This rest period must be a minimum of 30 minutes. The 30-minute rest period is counted as working time for the employee.

The legislation allows some flexibility in scheduling breaks. The employer and employee can agree on the specific timing of the rest period within the workday, considering the nature of the work.

In addition to daily breaks, Costa Rican workers have the right to one full day of rest per week. This day of rest typically falls on Sundays. Employers cannot require employees to work on their designated rest day unless exceptional circumstances exist, such as emergencies or disasters.

Night shift and weekend regulations

In Costa Rica, labor laws have established specific regulations for night shifts and weekend work to ensure fair treatment and protect the health of workers.

Night shifts are defined by the Labour Code as work periods that fall partially or entirely within the timeframe of 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM. Key regulations for night shift work include:

  • Shorter Work Hours: Night shifts have a reduced maximum daily working hour compared to regular day shifts. The law limits night shifts to a maximum of 6 hours per day.
  • Weekly Hour Limit: The maximum number of hours worked on night shifts per week is also capped at 36 hours. This ensures extended rest periods for night shift workers.

Costa Rican workers are entitled to one full day of rest per week, typically on Sundays. However, there are circumstances where weekend work might be necessary. The law dictates that:

  • Employee Consent: Weekend work requires the employee's consent. Employers cannot force employees to work on their designated rest day.
  • Overtime Pay: Weekend work triggers overtime pay regulations. Employees working on weekends are entitled to double their regular hourly wage. This serves as an incentive for working outside regular working hours.

These regulations are based on Articles 57 and 137 of the Costa Rican Labour Code.

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