Project in Costa Rica Seeks to Allow Workers Who Care for Sick Relatives Reduce Working Hours

    Initiative of the Judiciary was presented along with four more proposals that will be taken to Congress

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    A bill promoted by the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) of Costa Rica proposes granting workers the right to request a reduction in their working hours by up to 50% to spend time caring for minors, the elderly or the sick relatives who require assistance.

    The initiative states that this possibility can be accessed with a proportional decrease in salary and “of the corresponding supplements” and circumscribes the right for parents or legal guardians “who have a person under 12 years of age or a person with disability who does not carry out a paid activity”.

    The Law on the reduction of working hours for domestic care work, for men and women, was presented this past Tuesday by the magistrate and coordinator of the Gender Commission of the Judiciary, Roxana Chacón, who promotes the initiative in conjunction with the head of the CSJ’s Technical Secretariat for Gender and Access to Justice and the liberationist deputy and president of the Special Permanent Commission for Women, Carolina Delgado.

    The text also covers those people who need to be in charge of the direct care of a relative up to the second degree of consanguinity “who for reasons of age, accident or illness” cannot fend for themselves, as long as this person does not carry out any paid activity.

    Continuity in labor conditions

    “This project to reduce working hours for the care of minors, people with some degree of disability, will allow women not to disconnect from their working life and to request a reduction in their hours to go care their children, without losing their employment status,” Chacón explained about this project, in whose drafting the lawyer Diana Marín participated.

    Additionally, the bill allows such a request for parents or legal guardians of a minor under 18 years of age who needs direct care due to a serious illness and that “involves a long-term hospital admission, during their hospitalization and continued treatment” as long as this is accredited by a public health service.

    As the Judiciary “does not have a law initiative” it will be the deputy Carolina Delgado who will present this and four other projects that also coordinated the office of magistrate Chacón.

    “We have been talking since last year with the Special Permanent Commission for Women about these bills and that commission has given us the opportunity to present these initiatives,” Chacón explained.

    In addition to establishing the parameters of those who will be able to access this right, the bill establishes the possibility of the worker to request the return to his previous state “once the period agreed with the employer has ended or when circumstances allow it “.

    In the same way, it leaves the employer’s discretion to grant this right when two or more similar requests from collaborators converge, which could harm the operation of the business. The project also grants deadlines: the worker interested in accessing the right must request it 30 days in advance and the employer must respond within 24 hours.

    “Workers who request or are engaging reduced working hours, will enjoy the same protection against dismissal as granted by articles 94 and 94 bis of the Labor Code, to pregnant or lactating women,” adds the initiative that enables the employer to hire another person for the reduced working day of the original collaborator.

    Mitigate sexual offenses

    The other four bills announced by Judge Chacón tend to facilitate access to justice for women and minors who are victims of sexual crimes. According to information provided by the judicial official, with data prepared by the Statistics Subprocess of the Judiciary Planning Directorate, in five years (between 2016 and 2020) a total of 47,628 complaints for sexual crimes were filed with the Public Ministry, in average 9,525 complaints per year in that five-year period.

    In 2019 alone, for example, 12,348 complaints were filed, 64% of them ended up being dismissed and 40% of those that reached the procedural stage ended in acquittals and dismissals. Given this scenario, the Court promotes a constitutional reform project to article 36, to exclude from the right of abstention for minors victims of sexual crimes and article 205 of the Criminal Procedure Code, with the same purpose. Regulation is also sought of the 72-hour Protocol for the care of rape victims and rapid response teams. The other initiative is related to a criminal procedural reform to article 293 so that the judicial advance of evidence is mandatory in the case of sexual crimes.

    Resonance Costa Rica
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