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Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Cuba

Standard working hours

Cuba adheres to a set of regulations regarding standard working hours, establishing a predictable workweek for employees. The standard workweek in Cuba is capped at 44 hours. This translates to an expected 8-hour workday spread across five days.

There are exceptions to this rule. Specific industries, such as healthcare or education, may require employees to work longer hours due to the nature of the work. However, these deviations need to be authorized and follow established regulations. Collective bargaining agreements negotiated between state-run enterprises and official trade unions can establish different working hours, as long as they comply with the maximum limits set by law.

The primary legal reference for standard working hours in Cuba is Article 80 of Law No. 116. These regulations allow for some flexibility through established mechanisms like compensatory time off and flexible work arrangements. However, these deviations from the standard workweek must comply with additional regulations to ensure employee rights are protected.


In Cuba, the Labor Code provides clear rules and compensation requirements for overtime work.

The standard workweek in Cuba is 44 hours. Any work exceeding these 44 hours is considered overtime.

Cuban law imposes a daily limit on overtime work, capped at 4 hours per day. This translates to a maximum of 12 working hours per day, including overtime. There's no set limit on total weekly overtime hours, but exceeding the 44-hour standard workweek triggers overtime pay regulations. However, the annual limit for overtime work is capped at 160 hours to prevent excessive workload.

Employers have two options for compensating overtime work in Cuba:

  • Cash Payment: Overtime work must be compensated at a rate of 1.5 times the employee's regular hourly wage.
  • Compensatory Time Off: Employees can choose to receive additional rest time instead of cash compensation for overtime work. The amount of time off awarded is equal to the overtime hours worked.

The decision of whether to receive cash payment or compensatory time off for overtime work ultimately rests with the employee.

Employers are obligated to obtain prior authorization from the relevant trade union before implementing overtime work. Exceptions exist for emergencies or unforeseen circumstances that threaten production or safety.

Employees have the right to refuse overtime work, except in emergency situations or when fulfilling essential tasks.

Law No. 116, C贸digo de Trabajo, particularly Articles 80, 81, and 82, establishes the legal framework for overtime work in Cuba.

Rest periods and breaks

Cuban labor law acknowledges the significance of rest periods and breaks during the workday to ensure worker well-being and enhance productivity. Here's an overview of these entitlements:

Daily Rest Period

Cuban law requires a minimum daily rest period of 30 minutes for employees working a continuous workday exceeding 6 hours. This break is considered working time and should be included in the employee's total working hours.

The law allows some flexibility in scheduling this break. The employer and employee can agree on the specific timing within the workday, taking into account the nature of the work.

Additional Breaks

Although not explicitly required by law, it's common for workplaces to offer additional short breaks throughout the workday, especially for physically demanding jobs. Since these additional breaks are not explicitly regulated, their implementation and specifics may vary depending on the workplace and potential agreements with labor unions.

Special Considerations

While there isn't a specific legal requirement for additional breaks during certain types of work, employers are encouraged to consider incorporating them due to the demanding nature of such work.

Night shift and weekend regulations

Cuba's labor laws recognize the demanding nature of night and weekend work and have specific regulations to protect worker well-being and ensure fair treatment.

When it comes to night shift work, there's no dedicated section solely for night shift regulations in the Labor Code (C贸digo de Trabajo), but night work is implicitly considered within the broader framework of working hours. The standard 44-hour workweek applies to night shifts as well. However, employers are encouraged to consider the demanding nature of night work when structuring schedules. The National Assembly of People's Power of Cuba recommends exploring the possibility of reduced working hours for night shifts to account for the additional strain. Although not mandated by law, providing additional short breaks during night shifts is highly advisable to promote alertness and well-being.

Weekend work generally refers to work performed on Sundays and public holidays. Weekend work is generally discouraged and should be minimized. Employers must obtain prior authorization from the relevant trade union before implementing weekend work. Exceptions exist for essential services, emergencies, or unforeseen circumstances that threaten production or safety. Weekend work requires the employee's prior consent, except in the aforementioned exceptional situations. Weekend work triggers mandatory overtime pay regulations. Employees working on weekends are entitled to a premium rate, typically set at 1.5 times the regular hourly wage. Employees have the right to refuse weekend work unless there are exceptional circumstances defined by law. Similar to regular overtime, employees can choose to receive compensatory time off in lieu of cash compensation for weekend work.

These regulations prioritize employee well-being by minimizing unnecessary weekend work and ensuring fair compensation when it's unavoidable. Law No. 116, C贸digo de Trabajo, particularly Articles 80, 82, and 86, forms the legal basis for night and weekend work regulations in Cuba. Recommendations from the National Assembly of People's Power of Cuba regarding reduced hours and additional breaks for night shifts are valuable considerations for employers.

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