Solidarity Associations in Costa Rica

A figure that exists in Costa Rican law are the so-called Solidarity Associations (known in Spanish as “Asociaciones Solidaristas”), which have been developing social work within the company and in turn have reinforced dialogue, respect and conciliation of the needs of the company and the workers.

Solidarity in Costa Rica has helped the company to increase its social peace through the establishment of programs to strengthen the human development of workers, acquisition of new competencies and skills, and access to direct loans to workers for training courses or addressing housing and health needs, among others. The above represents a direct advantage for the company since the Solidarity Associations manage these requirements of the workers through direct and expeditious actions, without the company having to disburse money for these programs, only for the established severance advance contributions.


Having a Solidarity Association within the company ensures progress in employees' economic and social conditions, which can increase workers' satisfaction with the working conditions associated with their employment.

1. Definition of the Solidarity Association and its legal personality

The Law of Solidarity Associations (no.6960 of 1984), in its article 1, establishes that "they are social organizations that are inspired by a human attitude, through which man identifies with the needs and aspirations of his fellow men, committing the contribution of their resources and efforts to satisfy those needs and aspirations in a fair and peaceful manner."

Article 4 of the previously described law establishes the legal nature of this type of organization, establishing that they are "entities of indefinite duration, with their own legal personality, which, to achieve their objectives, may acquire all types of assets, enter into contracts of all kinds and carry out all types of lawful operations aimed at the socioeconomic improvement of its members, in an attempt to dignify and raise their standard of living."

2. Functions that Solidarity Associations can carry out

Solidarity Associations can carry out the following functions as long as the funds necessary to make reimbursements and severance payments are not committed:

a. Savings, credit, investment operations, and any other profitable operations..

b. Develop housing, scientific, sports, artistic, educational and recreational, cultural, spiritual, social, and economic programs, as well as any other that lawfully promotes union and cooperation between workers and between them and their employers.

3. The funds of the Solidarity Associations

According to art. 18 of the Law of Solidarity Associations, the economic capital of these organizations is constituted by:

a. The minimum monthly savings contribution by the associates, whose percentage will be determined by the general assembly. In no case will said percentage be less than three percent or more than five percent of the salary reported by the employer to the Costa Rican Social Security Fund.

b. The employer's monthly contribution for the benefit of its affiliated employees, which will be agreed upon between both parties following solidarity principles. This fund will remain under the custody and management of the association as a reserve for benefits. The amount collected for this concept will be considered as part of the economic fund destined for severance for the benefit of the worker, without exempting the employer from responsibility for the difference between what corresponds to the worker as severance payment at the end of the contract, according to the cause for which it ended and what was contributed by the employer.

c. Income from donations, inheritances, or legacies that may correspond to them.

d. Any other lawful income they receive during the activities they carry out.

4. Rights that Solidarity Associations must at least guarantee

According to art. 7 of the Law of Solidarity Associations, Solidarity Associations must guarantee, among others:

a. The free affiliation and disaffiliation of its members.

b. Equality of rights and obligations, regardless of race, creed, sex, marital status, or political ideology.

c. The irreparability among the members of the legal reserves established by the law.

5. Benefits derived from the constitution of a Solidarity Association

The benefits that arise for the worker and employer from the constitution of a Solidarity Association are the following:The benefits that arise for the worker and employer from the constitution of a Solidarity Association are the following:

a. Consolidation of the severance as an acquired right. According to article 21 of the Law of Solidarity Associations, employer contributions must be allocated to creating a severance fund. Once deposited, they are the worker's property, so the right to receive a severance payment is acquired in all forms of breach of the employment contract, even in cases of resignation or dismissal without employer responsibility, up to the amount of the contributions made.

b. Breaking the severance limit.The employer contribution to the severance fund must be made monthly to the private account of each employee while the employment contract and subscription as a member of the Solidarity Association are in force. Likewise, the greater the seniority that the worker has as a member of the Solidarity Association, the greater the probability that the amount contributed in favor of the worker will be greater than the amount that corresponds to him by law, with which the implicitly, the severance ceiling limit would be broken, which according to legal rules will never exceed 176 days of salary, calculated based on the average wage of the last semester worked.

c. In case of disaffiliation of the worker from the Solidarity Association. If the worker ceases to be affiliated, he will always maintain his right to claim:

  • The savings that he would have made, plus the corresponding returns.

  • The associate's credits in favor of the entity.

  • The right to the employer's severance contribution.

d. Presence of employer representatives at general assemblies and Board of Directors meetings. The employer may designate a representative, with the right to speak but without a vote, who may attend general assemblies and sessions of the board of directors unless they, by simple majority, state otherwise. This possibility for the employer to maintain, through its representatives, a formal and express link with the Solidarity Association not only promotes continuous dialogue with employees regarding the decisions that are adopted in relation to one of the most relevant patrimonial benefits to which have the right, but could become a channel that allows, as long as the workers are interested in it, among others, technical and financial advice that maximizes the profitability of the contributions, if not, commercial opportunities.

e. Execution of bilateral projects. It is a common practice for employers and Solidarity Associations to carry out projects that, as part of a value chain, generate mutual benefit, such as: tasks aimed at environmental conservation, promotion of savings and credit, workplace cafeteria, provision of services, transportation, etc. It is important to emphasize that some of the joint projects can generate a financial benefit for the Solidarity Association in such a way that the surpluses to which the associated workers can aspire can be increased.

f. Employer contribution as a sign of cooperation and social justice. The assets the employer contributes to the Solidarity Association denote a clear intention to promote collaboration and social justice between worker and employer. In the same way, it can increase the company's productivity as a consequence of work harmony and bipartite cooperation.

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

Alejandro Godínez Tobón

Email: [email protected]
Phones +506 2289-5250 / +506 2289-5259
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