February 25, 2019
Efraín Zapata / email@example.com
Partner BDS Costa Rica
Nobody wants to experience the uncertainty resulting from a judicial process, even less when it comes about a claim at the workplace. If we fall into such a regrettable experience, the expectation of those involved is a quick and just solution to the conflict.
Although the judicial process is the stone on the path that everyone wants to avoid, if it is inevitable, it is important to keep in mind a few basic recommendations, to be prepared and to keep it as low-intensity as possible.
In a judicial matter, it is paramount to be clear about the response times of any actions, which according to the Labor Procedural Reform, in force since July 25, 2017, are intended to generate the highest concentration of stages, in the shortest time possible.
For example, in a lawsuit, the Labor Judge grants a period of 10 working days for the defendant to respond and provide the relevant evidence in his/her favor. Once the lawsuit has been served, it is essential to take immediate advice to meet such requirements.
Upon service of process, it is necessary to submit a response in writing, clearly and according to the claims raised. If the respondent fails to file the response within the deadline given by the Labor Judge, there is a high probability of a negative result, contrary to the interests of the defendant including unexpected financial obligations often imposed through seizures on the defendant’s bank accounts and assets.
It should be noted that both the worker and the employer are exposed to the possibility of a judicial process for several reasons from the moment of recruitment. On a day-to-day basis controversy may arise, and such disagreements can be taken to a courthouse for a solution.
Sometimes claims arise from lack of clarity, mainly in the conditions of performance of the employment contract. Therefore, it is important to document, record the true terms and conditions for the service contracted, every aspect of worker’s compensation and conditions of employment and performance of duties.
For clarity of the employment contract and its effects, the application for employment, an adequate interview period, the formalization of the contract, the delivery of payment vouchers and the writing of the actions or records of incidents have been very useful. These are important aspects to guarantee adequate attention to the claims.
It is also convenient to have a clearly defined business structure, especially regarding staff obligations and hierarchies, since in a judicial process the testimony of witnesses is a great help and it is common for bosses or superiors to be called to give a reference of the daily conditions of the employment contract.
Usually, the labor judicial process is initiated at the end of the employer-worker relationship by either the worker or the employer, but there is also the possibility that the conflict goes to courts during the development of the employment contract. Therefore, it is better not to omit the recording of personnel details and actions under the belief that they will hardly be needed.
The misinterpretation of labor regulations or the breach of contract conditions generate claims in labor courts. Therefore, we recommend having a file allowing clarity to the worker or the employer. This also definitely helps the judicial authorities to determine the truth or falsity of the claims.
It is necessary to keep the worker’s file duly ordered and updated, whether physically or electronically, even upon termination of the labor relationship regardless of the cause of termination. Our recommendation is to keep it for up to ten years, due to the variety of claims that can be made, including the review that can be made by the Costa Rican Social Security Fund.