Costa Rica and Panama Discuss Work Weeks of Fewer Days and More Hours per Day

    In Central America they are the only countries that have proposals of this type, but on both occasions the possible approval has sparked a debate between unions

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    In the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica, a bill is being discussed that seeks to reform the labor code so that employers and workers can agree on work weeks with more hours per day, but with fewer days.

    In the case of Panama, the initiative is to work two additional hours during four days a week to complete the 40 hours and have an additional day off, which can be Friday or Monday.

    In both cases, the discussion of this type of project opened a debate between business sectors, while some claim to agree, others estimate that this would be a setback to working conditions.

    “Working smarter”

    A study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), published in 2015, showed that productivity has to do with “working smarter” rather than “working harder” and reflects the ability to generate more results or products through a better combination of inputs, thanks to new ideas, technological innovations and new business models.

    So far, the ruling party and the opposition parties (except for theFrenteAmplio) are in favor of the reform of the Labor Code that supports shifts 4-3 where they would work four days a week with three days off, but weekly you must respect the limit according to the shift: 48 hours during the daytime, 42 hours during the mixed shift and 36 hours at night.In this way, if a worker has a daytime shift, their work would be 12 hours per day, while in the case of people who work at night, their work would be 9 hours.

    The debate ignites when the unions argue that this would affect the ability to do overtime and the quality of work of the collaborators, while the deputies in favor of the issue express their agreement because according to their comments it is necessary to create a more dynamic labor force.


    In the case of the neighboring country, Panama, the National Council of Private Enterprise (Conep) assures that the proposal to reduce the working week is an approach that must be evaluated, since the issue may collide with constitutional norms that indicate that the maximum working day is eight hours.”It is an issue that should be considered in a debate on the new forms of labor relations,” says the president of the business association, Rubén Castillo.

    In Panama, the private company defines its working hours in accordance with the provisions of the Labor Code, so that given the situation, each business is free to evaluate creative measures with its workers according to the nature of its activities, maintains the Chamber maintains of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama.
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