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El Salvador

Benefits and Entitlements Overview

Learn about mandatory and optional employee benefits in El Salvador

Mandatory benefits

In El Salvador, the labor code outlines several mandatory employee benefits that employers must provide by law. These benefits ensure a baseline level of security and financial well-being for workers.

El Salvador offers a generous package of paid time off for employees, including:

  • Annual Leave (Vacation): After one year of service (or working more than 200 days a year), employees are entitled to 15 days of paid annual leave. This leave is paid at a rate of 130% of the regular salary and must be granted before the leave period.

  • Sick Leave: The amount of sick leave an employee receives depends on their years of service:

    • 1-5 months of employment: 75% of basic salary for 20 days.
    • 5 months to 1 year: 75% of basic salary for 40 days.
    • One year or more: 75% of basic salary for 60 days.
  • Public Holidays: El Salvador observes 10 official public holidays each year. Employees are entitled to paid time off for these holidays.

  • Other Leaves: Additional paid leaves are mandated for specific situations, including:

    • Maternity Leave: Four months of paid maternity leave at 100% of the salary is covered by Social Security.
    • Paternity Leave: While not mandated by law, some employers may offer a few days of paid paternity leave.
    • Bereavement Leave: Employees receive paid leave in case of the death of a close family member.
    • Marriage Leave: A short period of paid leave is granted upon marriage.

Social Security and Pensions

El Salvador has a mandatory social security system that provides various benefits to employees, including:

  • Healthcare: Social Security covers a portion of healthcare expenses, including doctor visits, medications, and hospital stays. Employers are responsible for covering the first three days of sick leave, after which Social Security takes over.
  • Disability Benefits: In case of disability, Social Security provides partial income replacement.
  • Retirement Pensions: Both employers and employees contribute to a pension plan under the Pension Savings System Act. The contributions are a percentage of the employee's salary and go towards a retirement pension upon reaching retirement age.

Additional Mandatory Benefits

  • Overtime Pay: Any work hours exceeding the regular work schedule are considered overtime and must be compensated at an increased rate, typically at 1.5 times the regular pay rate.
  • Severance Pay: In case of termination, employees are entitled to severance pay based on years of service and reason for termination.
  • Thirteenth Month Pay: A mandatory bonus equal to one month's salary is paid to employees in December of each year.

Optional benefits

In El Salvador, many companies offer additional perks to attract and retain top talent, beyond the mandatory benefits stipulated by the labor code. These optional employee benefits range from health and wellness benefits to financial benefits and other perks.

Health and Wellness Benefits

  • Health Insurance: Many companies provide health insurance plans that cover employees and sometimes their dependents for medical expenses, hospitalization, and doctor visits.
  • Dental and Vision Insurance: Some employers offer dental and vision insurance plans to supplement health insurance coverage.
  • Wellness Programs: Companies may invest in employee wellness programs that promote healthy lifestyles through gym memberships, fitness classes, or on-site health screenings.

Financial Benefits

  • Life Insurance: Life insurance policies provide financial security to the employee's beneficiaries in case of death.
  • Profit Sharing: Certain organizations share a portion of their profits with employees, which can incentivize better performance and boost morale.
  • Performance Bonuses: Employers may offer performance-based bonuses to reward employees who consistently exceed expectations.

Other Perks and Benefits

  • Employee Discounts: Companies might provide employees with discounts on their products or services, fostering loyalty and engagement.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering flexible work options like remote work or compressed workweeks can improve work-life balance and employee satisfaction.
  • Educational Assistance: Some employers contribute to employee education and training programs, enhancing their skillsets and promoting career growth.

Health insurance requirements

In El Salvador, the healthcare system is a combination of public healthcare, social security health insurance, and private health insurance. The health insurance requirements for employees within this system are as follows:

Mandatory Social Security Health Insurance (ISSS)

Health insurance coverage for formal sector employees is mandated in El Salvador through the Salvadoran Social Security Institute (ISSS). Both employers and employees contribute to the ISSS program:

  • Employee Contribution: Employees are required to contribute 3% of their monthly income towards ISSS health insurance.
  • Employer Contribution: Employers are obligated to contribute 7.5% of the employee's salary to ISSS, which includes health insurance coverage.

This mandatory contribution ensures basic healthcare access for covered employees, including doctor visits, hospitalization, and maternity care.

Private Health Insurance (Optional)

While social security provides a baseline level of health coverage, some employers might offer supplemental private health insurance plans. These plans can offer broader coverage, shorter wait times, and access to a wider network of healthcare providers compared to the ISSS system.

Private health insurance is entirely optional for both employers and employees. Employers may choose to offer it as a benefit to attract and retain talent, while employees can decide to purchase individual private plans for themselves or their dependents.

Retirement plans

In El Salvador, a two-tiered retirement system is available for employees, which combines a mandatory public plan with optional private options.

Mandatory Public Pension System (AFP)

The mandatory public pension system in El Salvador is known as the Sistema de Ahorro para Pensiones (AFP), or Private Pension System. It operates as a defined-contribution scheme, where both employers and employees contribute a percentage of the employee's salary towards a retirement savings account managed by a private pension fund administrator (Administradoras de Fondos de Pensiones - AFP).

Contribution Rates:

  • Employee Contribution: Employees contribute 7.25% of their salary to the AFP.
  • Employer Contribution: Employers contribute 7.75% of the employee's salary to the AFP.

These contributions are invested in the employee's individual account, and the accumulated amount determines the future retirement benefits.

Eligibility for Public Pension Benefits

To be eligible for retirement benefits under the AFP system, individuals must meet specific requirements:

  • Minimum Retirement Age:
    • Men: 60 years old.
    • Women: 55 years old.
  • Minimum Contribution Years: 25 years of contributions to the AFP system.

There are alternative eligibility options if the minimum age requirement is not met but sufficient contributions are accumulated:

  • Annuity Option: Retirees can choose to receive a monthly pension in the form of an annuity, provided it equals at least 60% of their average earnings for contribution purposes or 160% of the minimum pension.


  • Guaranteed Minimum Pension: The AFP system offers a guaranteed minimum pension for those who meet the minimum contribution requirement.

Optional Private Pension Plans

Some employers in El Salvador might offer voluntary private pension plans. These plans allow employees to save additional funds towards retirement beyond the mandatory contributions. Benefits can include:

  • Higher Potential Returns: Private pension plans may offer a chance for higher returns on investment compared to the public AFP system.
  • Greater Flexibility: Some private plans provide more flexibility in managing retirement savings and choosing withdrawal options.

Participation in these private plans is entirely voluntary for both employers and employees.

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