How should vacation days be calculated in a cumulative working day?

Article 153 of the Labor Code provides that: "Every worker has the right to paid annual vacations, the minimum of which is set at two weeks for every fifty weeks of continuous work, at the service of the same employer."

This is a minimum amount that the employer can improve through an agreement with the workers or by unilateral decision. This decision is generally associated with objective criteria; the main one is usually seniority.

The establishment of these two weeks was given because, in the model of the 1943 legislator, the enjoyment of this right is justified after 50 working weeks. These, added to the two subsequent days of annual leave, complete the 52 weeks of the year.

Therefore, the main rule is: unless you want to grant a more extended break, the vacation will always be two weeks. Thus, the worker has the right to be absent from work for two weeks without loss of remuneration.

From this rule, many doubts have arisen about the exact number of days to which those two weeks correspond. Naturally, such equivalence should not be subject to conflict; however, the constantly formulated queries show a surprising complexity in its understanding despite this premise.

Two working weeks refer to a certain number of working days and days off. In the basic model of the 1943 legislator, the working week was six days (from Monday to Saturday), and the weekly rest day coincided with Sunday, which was also considered a holiday.

In this way, the two weeks of annual leave comprised 12 working days (Monday to Saturday) and two days of weekly rest (Sunday).

If the complementary rules introduced by the legislator to ensure adequate rest were followed (such as the limitation of its division into two periods) and, in addition, an even more effective rule than the legal one were sought (such as the enjoyment of vacations in a continuous manner), it would be more evident that 12 successive working days of rest comprise 14 calendar days. This is also equivalent to two full weeks in which the worker does not work but receives remuneration during that time.

The problems arising from the application of this legal model are related to circumstances that are not necessarily attributable to the legislator, for example: that the rule has been subjected to pressure from excessive division; the unjustified accumulation of rest days that must be enjoyed; the need of the market that requires the implementation of a cumulative working day, or difficulties in parameterizing the computer programs that record the number of days that must be enjoyed or have already been enjoyed.

If the causes that give rise to the doubts that we intend to solve are left aside, two weeks of vacation are always equivalent to two weeks of work. If the working day is not cumulative and takes place over six days, the annual leave is twelve days; if the working day is cumulative and takes place over five days, the annual vacation corresponds to ten days; if the working day is four (working days) x three (rest days), the annual leave is eight days. It turns out the same. In all these cases, those who have a paid break of 12, 10, or 8 days receive the same benefit: two weeks without justifiably attending work, without loss of the legal salary that corresponds to them.

If it were irregular days, in which the working hours of each day were not uniform, that circumstance should not represent a greater conflict. The least complex example is the extended working day from Monday to Friday with a reduced working day on Saturday. In this case, the holidays are ten days from Monday to Friday with extended hours and two Saturdays with reduced hours. If the daily shift were every day with a different number of hours, but they add up to a total of 48 hours per week, the annual leave is equivalent to the working days that result after adding 96 hours.

Therefore, the main rule to solve any doubt about the computation and recording of vacation time is based on using the same criteria (expressed in weeks, days or hours) both to determine the amount of work time that should be rested a collaborator, as to set the balance pending to enjoy.

At Bufete Godínez y Asociados, we specialize in counseling and advising employers in labor and employment law. If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to contact us by clicking here.


About the Autor

Alejandro Godínez Tobón

Alexander Godínez Vargas

Email: [email protected]
Phones +506 2289-5250 | +506 2289-255
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