Traditionally, the last months of the year stand out for being the high season for the commercial sector due to the Christmas season, specifically, due to the greater number of celebrations and purchases made by consumers. Due to this, businesses tend to increase the hiring of personnel for a certain period of time; that is, only during that high season.
However, according to specialists, it is important to take certain considerations before making this type of hire. With this, carry them out correctly and avoid situations that affect the worker or the employer.
Precisely, Ricardo Nassar, specialist at Baker Tilly Costa Rica, commented that the first characteristic that employers who want to hire workers for a fixed term in the coming months have to take into account is that the fixed-term contract is an exceptional contract.
This means, he mentioned, that it is prohibited to agree on a contract for a specific period of time or for work, if there is no extraordinary reason that forces the business or employer to do so.
Nassar explained that, in this sense, article 26 of the Labor Code indicates that “the employment contract may only be stipulated for a specific period in those cases where its conclusion results from the nature of the service to be provided. If after expiration of its term the causes that gave rise to it and the subject matter of the work subsist, it will be considered as a contract for an indefinite period, as long as it benefits the worker, that in which the nature of the work is permanent.
This, he added, means that the employer necessarily has to have an extraordinary reason that allows him to agree to that contract for a specific time and this reason must persist over time.
The Christmas season
Precisely, an example of this is the Christmas season, in which businesses traditionally project a considerable increase in customer visits to their premises compared to other months of the year, which forces them to have more staff to attend to this increase of customers.
Errors when hiring for a specific period
According to the Baker Tilly Costa Rica specialist, the main mistake of employers is precisely to hire people for a certain period of time without having an extraordinary reason that allows them to do so. This is because, in labor law, there is a principle of continuity that is established as a rule, which is why fixed-term contracts are exceptional.
Another aspect to take into account is that a fixed-term contract can only be agreed for a maximum duration of one year. This unless the services being contracted require special technical preparation, in which a period of up to five years can be reached.
“There is an illegal employer practice, which consists of the signing of several consecutive fixed-term contracts, which, together, exceed the terms indicated above. This is done with the aim of evading legal responsibilities such as labor settlements; or, use compliance with a contractual deadline as an objective reason to terminate a pregnant woman’s employment contract, for example, without incurring discriminatory dismissal,” Nassar mentioned.
He added that it is important to note that, at the end of a contract for a fixed period, the employer must not pay notice or severance pay to the worker. This occurs because at the end of the agreed term, what occurs is a termination of the contract, and not a dismissal with employer responsibility. However, what must be paid to the worker at the end of his contract for a fixed period is the equivalent of the proportional vacation and bonus.
Nassar mentioned that the fixed-term contract has the same characteristics as any other employment contract. In it, he said, all aspects regulated in the Labor Code must be included and that the parties are interested in agreeing on from the beginning of the employment relationship. The only difference is that in the fixed-term contract the period that will be worked is established; that is, one, two, three, or more months and the reasons why it is contracted under that modality.
Sustained over time
Another important aspect that the specialist highlighted is that the extraordinary reason or justification that the employer is giving for making a contract for a specific period of time must be sustained over time, which means that, once the term of the contract has expired, the employer will There should not be the need to count on the person hired for a specific time.
“The main recommendation that can be given is that employers seek specialized advice when making contracts, this to avoid contingencies due to poorly made contracts. This advice will allow us to know if the employer can really make a contract for a specific time or for a specific project,” concluded Nassar.