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High-Court Ruling Bolsters Domestic Workers’ Rights

March 16, 2007

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) recently made domestic employees’ lives a little easier with a ruling that gives them more time off and abolishes sections of the Labor Code that differentiate such workers from those in other fields.

The ruling upholds their maximum workday of 12 hours, but states that employers cannot demand additional hours, and that the hours must be continual – not distributed over a 15-hour period as the Labor Law states, according to a March 7 statement from the Judicial Branch.

Ruling on a suit filed by Rosa María Acosta, of the Domestic Workers’ Association, the justices found sections of the Labor Law allowing employers to extend domestic workers’ hours from 12 to 16, with additional pay, unconstitutional, as well as the non-continual workday for domestic workers. The statement said these sections of the law violate both the Constitution and the American Convention on Human Rights, and that “there is no reasonable, objective differentiating element that justifies situating domestic service under an exceptional regimen with longer workdays than other workers and shorter rest periods.”

The daily La Nación also reported that the Judicial Branch Press Office had indicated that the ruling gives domestic employees one full day off per week, instead of the half-day they now receive, and national holidays.

Oddly, Judicial Branch spokesman Federico Venegas told The Tico Times that information will not be available until the justices’ full sentence is published.

 

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