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Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Curaçao

Standard working hours

In Curaçao, standard working hours are regulated, providing a predictable workweek for employees. The standard workweek is capped at 40 hours for non-scheduled workers and 45 hours for scheduled workers. This means an expected 8-hour workday spread across five days for non-scheduled workers and potentially longer for scheduled workers.

Non-Scheduled Workers are employees whose work schedule varies and is not predetermined. They fall under the 40-hour maximum. On the other hand, Scheduled Workers are employees with a fixed, recurring work schedule outside of regular office hours. Their maximum is 45 hours, allowing for some flexibility in scheduling.

This distinction between scheduled and non-scheduled workers is crucial when determining the applicable maximum working hours. The primary legal reference for standard working hours in Curaçao is Decree No. 96-203 of 1996 on Hours of Work in Curaçao. These regulations allow for some deviations through mechanisms like flexible work arrangements. However, these variations from the standard workweek must comply with additional regulations to ensure employee rights are protected.


In Curaçao, labor laws have established clear rules and compensation requirements for overtime work, ensuring employees are fairly rewarded for exceeding standard working hours.

The threshold for overtime is determined by the standard workweek, which is capped at 40 hours for non-scheduled workers and 45 hours for scheduled workers. Any work exceeding these limits falls under overtime regulations. An important aspect to consider is the absence of a daily overtime limit. While the weekly limit ensures total working hours remain controlled, Curaçao's legislation doesn't specify a maximum number of overtime hours per day.

Overtime work must be compensated at a rate of at least 1.5 times the employee's regular wage. Curaçao's legislation offers a unique provision regarding overtime compensation. Employees can choose to receive their overtime pay in cash or as time off in lieu. However, for time-back to be granted, there needs to be a written agreement between the employer and employee. If time-back is chosen, the employee receives 1.5 hours of compensatory time off for every 1 hour of overtime worked.

Employers are obligated to maintain detailed records of all overtime hours worked by their employees. These records should be readily available for inspection by labor authorities. Employees generally have the right to refuse overtime work unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as emergencies or unforeseen situations that threaten production or safety.

Rest periods and breaks

In Curaçao, labor laws emphasize the significance of rest periods and breaks during the workday to ensure worker well-being and enhance productivity.

The laws in Curaçao mandate a minimum daily rest period of 30 minutes for employees working a continuous workday exceeding 5 hours. This break is considered part of the working time and should be included in the employee's total working hours.

The legislation 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.

While not explicitly required by law, it's customary for workplaces to provide 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.

Night shift and weekend regulations

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

While there's no dedicated section solely for night shift regulations, night work is implicitly considered within the broader framework of working hours. Although not mandated by law, exploring the possibility of reduced working hours or incorporating additional short breaks during night shifts is advisable to account for the increased strain on workers.

Weekend work generally refers to work performed on Sundays and public holidays. Weekend work should be limited and requires justification. There's no explicit legal prohibition, but the expectation is to minimize weekend work whenever possible. Employers must obtain prior authorization from the labor inspectorate before implementing weekend work. Exceptions exist for 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.

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