General information on working hours

March 21, 2023

The working day is one of the most important aspects to be considered in any job. In El Salvador, the Labor Code establishes clear rules to regulate working hours and the conditions under which they must be performed. Among them are the segmentation of schedules and rotating workdays.

The Labor Code establishes the basic rules for working hours, schedules and breaks in El Salvador. In this sense, such provision states that the ordinary effective daytime workday shall not exceed eight hours per day, and the nighttime workday shall not exceed seven hours per day. The daytime work week shall not exceed forty-four hours and the nighttime work week shall not exceed thirty-nine hours (Art. 161). While, in dangerous or unhealthy tasks, the working day shall not exceed seven hours a day, nor thirty-nine hours a week, if it is daytime; nor six hours a day, nor thirty-six hours a week, if it is nighttime (Art. 162).

Regarding the segmentation of the working day in special cases, the working day may be divided in up to three parts comprised in no more than twelve hours, with the prior authorization of the Director General of Labor (Art. 164). This means that, in specific situations, the employer may divide the working day into different schedules, provided that certain requirements are met and the corresponding approval is obtained.

On the other hand, Article 165 of the Labor Code establishes that the employer will originally fix the working hours, but subsequent modifications will have to be made in agreement with the workers. If no agreement is reached, the Director General of Labor will intervene to resolve the situation, taking into account various elements, such as collective bargaining agreements and contracts, internal work regulations, the nature of the company's work and, ultimately, reasons of equity and good sense.

It is important that employers ensure that they comply with the rules set forth in the Labor Code and that workers are aware of their rights and obligations. In the event that disagreements arise over working hours or the division of the workday, they should be referred to the appropriate authorities for resolution.

Failure to comply with the provisions of the Labor Code can have serious consequences for employers, such as fines and sanctions by the labor authorities. It can also affect worker productivity and morale, which in turn can have an impact on the quality of work and the company's image.

In this sense, article 627 of the Labor Code amended on 10/04/2022 and published in the official gazette of 10/31/2022 establishes that the infractions related to Books I, II and III of this Code and other labor laws that do not have a special sanction shall be punished with a fine of up to twelve minimum wages of the industrial, commercial and services sector for each of the labor benefits violated.

The economic capacity of the offender or the size of the company, the seriousness of the infringement, the intentionality and the damage caused will be taken into account to determine the corresponding penalty. The fine varies according to the size of the company:

  • Microenterprises with up to 10 workers may be fined up to 2 minimum wages for each benefit violated;
  • small companies with more than 10 and up to 50 workers, with up to 4 minimum wages for each benefit violated;
  • medium-sized companies with more than 50 and up to 100 workers, with up to 8 minimum wages for each benefit violated; and companies with more than 100 workers, with up to 12 minimum wages for each benefit violated.

If it is proven that an act of God or force majeure occurred, the employer shall be exonerated from any administrative liability.

In conclusion, it is important for employers in El Salvador to familiarize and update themselves with the provisions of the Labor Code and other related regulations. Compliance with these provisions is not only a legal obligation, but can also have a positive impact on the productivity and well-being of workers, as well as on the reputation of the organization and the reduction of risks related to possible sanctions for non-compliance.

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