Rights for Working People

By María José Longo

Often workers are not familiar with their rights included in national regulations. Therefore, we are including a
summary of them from The Guide of Rights and Labor Obligations published by OIT (a United Nations
Organization for Workers).

Article 102 of the Constitution establishes that salary/wages must be paid in legal tender, i.e. money. A salary is
an amount of money that a worker should receive monthly. In some cases it can be divided into two payments
per month. And pay should not be less than minimum wage.

Overtime pay is defined as compensation for work above and beyond scheduled hours, i.e. outside of “the
normal schedule” which is agreed upon by the worker and the employer.The usual hourly day-time work schedule can not exceed eight hours per day, nor more than 44 hrs./week.

The usual hourly night schedule can not exceed six hours per night, nor more than 36 hrs./week. A workday including both day and night time hours can't exceed seven hours per day, nor 42 hrs./week. All work paid hourly outside of the customary schedule is defined as overtime and must be compensated as such according to constitutional regulation.

Bonus 14: legally referred to as Annual Bonus consists of pay equivalent to a full month´s wage or salary when
the worker has a year or more seniority. If he/she has been employed for less than a year, the bonus is pro-
rated accordingly. This compensation is in addition to the regular month´s pay and is paid out in July of each

Aguinaldo (or “Christmas bonus”): is equal to a full month´s salary or wage after the employee´s first year of employment. Less than a year, the bonus is pro-rated accordingly. This is an additional bonus to regular salary or wages and to the annual bonus (defined above). The “Christmas Bonus” is paid in two portions during the first 15 days of December of the same year and the first 15 days of January in the next year.

Vacation: when not used, vacation time must be paid out in addition to the monthly salary or wages.
The underlying premise is that vacation time is to be enjoyed as a period for necessary mental and
physical rest from work. It should be minimally 15 days for each year of employment and must be paid

If one works for a year without vacation, in addition to normal salary/wages, one must be paid the
equivalent to the unused vacation days. This amount is in addition to regular pay.
Severance pay: In cases of dismissal without just cause one month’s salary or wages for each year of
employment must be paid.

It’s not only about money . . . .

There are other worker’s rights besides the monetary ones, i.e., ones that are not given value in dollars, but nevertheless are included in the law to reinforce protections for workers. The right to one day/week for rest which must be paid time-off; the right to paid holidays off; the right to Social Security or as it is commonly known, the right to IGSS (Guatemala’s equivalent to the US Social Security Administration). The right to organize as unionized workers without being dismissed for so doing.

Maternity protections: a woman can not be dismissed due to pregnancy or during periods of breast-
feeding. Additionally, she enjoys time-off before and after childbirth which must be paid at her full
wage. Maternity leave coverage begins 30 days prior to giving birth and continues 54 days after. If all
30 days prior are not utilized the remaining days carry over for use after the birth. In any case, one
must receive the full 84 days.

Leave for fathers: After the birth he has the right to a two-day period which is compensated. These
benefits apply equally to cases of adoption for both the mother and the father.

In such cases where the employer has thirty or more female workers, he/she is obligated to provide
lunchroom space so that the women can feed their children free of hazards. And the employer must
provide child-care space and designated, suitable caretakers paid by the employer.

During pregnancy the woman can not be required to do work that would be risky to her or her baby.
During the period of breastfeeding, she receives two hours to dedicate to feeding her child or she can
accumulate the time allowing her to delay her on the job start time by an hour or leave the job an hour