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Is there any limit for the application of salary reductions authorized by the worker?

Recently, Chamber II of the Supreme Court of Justice, the highest authority in labor disputes in Costa Rica, had the opportunity to analyze a case that at CELIG we consider fundamental for the defense of the rights of the LGBTQI+ community. In judgment 656-22, Chamber II analyzed the limits that apply to payroll deductions. In this blog we analyze this case.

In judgment 656-22, a worker of the Ministry of Public Education claimed before the Courts that his employer paid him a liquid salary below the unattachable wage protected by law. The plaintiff had authorized the Ministry to apply payroll deductions to comply with two loans he had with two credit institutions. When he authorized these reductions, the worker’s salary allowed him to comfortably fulfill his obligations. However, his salary decreased as a result of the reduction in his working hours and therefore he could not meet his financial obligations.

The judges determined that our Constitution, international treaties and the Labor Code protect the inviolability of the right to a decent salary for the worker, which implies that the worker receives «(…) the minimum salary of unattachable content and that cannot be violated by debts acquired by the worker”. This means that, even if the worker has previously authorized deductions from his salary for the payment of contributions, the employer cannot apply them or must stop applying them if this implies that the worker is going to receive a liquid salary that is less than the unattachable one.

Although Chamber II did not order the return of the reduced amounts to the worker, it was clear in ordering the State «(…) to suspend the salary reductions that it has been making to the plaintiff for the payment of the aforementioned fees, which can only be applied respecting the untouchable minimum (unattachable amount) that is extracted from the application of the provisions of the first and second paragraphs of article one hundred and seventy-two of the Labor Code.”

At CELIG we provide specialized services to the LGBTQI+ community. If you want more information or make an appointment with us, call us at 2253-0256 / 2245-0855 or write to us at

We are located in San José, Barrio Escalante.

M.Sc. Ana Isabel Sibaja Rojas

CELIG – Center for Equal Litigation