Paternity Leave: A Necessary Right Within The Family Unit

by Quatro Legal Labor & Employment Team | Mar. 28, 2024 | Article, Labor & Employment

Before the 2022 reform, there was no paternity leave included in the Labor Code, which is why it was recognized as a benefit, but not as a right.

What does this leave mean? It translates into a mandatory rest period granted for the birth of a baby, with the aim of sharing the responsibilities of his/her care.

However, maternity leave and paternity leave are not granted for the same number of days. It must be remembered that the mother has given birth and will also have a very valuable and non-delegable role, which is breastfeeding the child. The mother will have three months of postpartum leave (plus one month of prenatal leave), and the father will have two days per week for the first four weeks after birth.

In case of the mother’s death, the leave granted to the father who will take care of the child will be three months. If he is absent, the permission will be granted to the working person who takes care of the newborn.

Adoptive fathers can also opt for paternity leave. If the adoption is individual, it will be for three months, and if it is joint, it will be divided among the adopting persons.

With the enactment of the Public Employment Framework Law in March 2023, public employees enjoy one month of paid leave starting one day after the registration of the birth or adoption.

What are the consequences for the employers if they do not respect this right? The employer would commit a serious breach of the labor contract by not respecting this legal provision, with the additional consequences indicated in article 95, subsection c), of the Labor Code.

As for the procedure, just like with maternity leave, it is the responsibility of the worker, who must fill out the form created for this purpose declaring themselves to be the biological father and indicating the days they wish to enjoy their right. In the case of an adoptive father, they must provide a certification issued by the National Child Welfare Agency, the competent court, a Public Notary, or a favorable resolution.

From the perspective of remuneration, both leaves, for mother and father, will be paid in the same way, covered equally by the Social Security Administration and the employer.

In addition to the creation of paternity leave, other rights were created with the 2022 reform, not covered by the previous standard, such as the obligation of the employer to grant paid leave to the worker to attend medical appointments of the mother and the minor during the first year of life of the minor.

This regulation was so helpful that, according to data from the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, from June 1, 2022, to May 29, 2023, more than 40,000 paternity leaves had been granted in the country. Good timing!

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