Costa Rica’s Public Employees Scrutinized


Data from Costa Rica’s Comisión Central Evaluadora de Incapacidades shows that Costa Rica’s public employees take five times as many sick days as employees from the private sector, according to a report from La Nación.

The data for 2014 shows that 275,000 public-sector employees accumulated close to 1.47 million sick days. That works out to an average of five days per employee. Overall, public-sector sick days cost Costa Rica’s social security system 28.227 billion colóns (about US$53 million).

For the private-sector employees, sick days were less common. Costa Rica’s approximately 1.78 million private-sector employees accumulated about 1.84 million sick days, or about one sick day per employee. Overall, private-sector sick days cost Costa Rica’s social security system 15.2 billion colóns (about US$28.5 million).

The discrepancy in social security coverage per sick day is due the fact that Costa Rica’s social security covers only 60% of public-sector employees’ sick pay, while the government institution for which they work covers the other 40%. For private-sector employees, 100% is covered directly by social security.

Some legislators in Costa Rica claimed that the public-sector employees were abusing their sick days, while others claim that the working conditions are poorer, leading to more illnesses among public-sector employees.

Despite the large difference in number of sick days between public- and private-sector employees, the total amount paid out to public-sector employees declined 3 billion colóns in 2014 from 2013.

The total number of sick days covered by Costa Rica’s social security dropped by 2.5 million between 2010 and 2014.



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