A seasonal contract is a labor law instrument that stems from the needs of the commercial and industrial sectors. In Costa Rica, this type of contract has special relevance in two specific times of the year: high season for the tourism sector, between the months of December and April, and also, for the retail sector, during the “Christmas season” that goes from the last days of November up to the firsts days of January. During this last period, the industrial, commercial and service sectors experience an important rise in demand of their services and products due to the different events that happen during these dates, for example: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, New Year, and so on…

Therefore, it is important to understand what are the key elements of a “Seasonal Contract” and what are the factors that an employer must have in mind if he or she wishes to recruit employees using this legal tool. Although the Code of Labor establishes in it is article 22 the possibility of a verbal contract, it is highly recommended that at the moment of entering into a seasonal contract, the period and the conditions of such employment is clearly expressed, preferably in writing. The period of the contract can be later extended by agreement of both parties.

This type of contract must comply with all the usual minimum legal requirements of a labor contract, regarding wage, social security, health and safety measures, and the working schedule. Once the duration of the contract expires, the employee has the right to a proportional payment of vacations and the “Christmas bonus” or “aguinaldo”, but it won´t have a right to receive severance or notice.

For contracts with a determined duration or based on a specific task to be completed, both parties can put an end to it without a necessary cause, before the time of the contract is over or the task is done. Nonetheless, the party who ends the contract has the responsibility to pay the other party any damages caused by the early termination of the contract.

When the employer is the one who ends the contract in advance, he or she must pay the employee at the moment of terminating the contract, an amount corresponding to a full workday for every seven days of continuous work performed, or a smaller fraction, in case the terms were not previously set. In any event, this amount cannot be less than the equivalent of three days of work. In the case that the contract has a length of six months or more, or if, due to the nature or importance of the task, the contract lasts six months or more, the compensation cannot be inferior to the equivalent of twenty-two workdays.

In case you have further questions, or wish to learn more about this type of contract, do not hesitate to contact us through the email address, and we will be happy to assist you.

COLBS Legal Studio- Department of Labor Law