Study of labor laws and obstacles to compliance in El Salvador

Publication Date: 

April 1, 2004


Amílcar Efrén Cardona Monterrosa (FESPAD)

Vea la Reporte en Espanol

Part of a Series of Reports by the International Labor Rights Fund on Fundamental Labor Rights in Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean


This report, commissioned by ILRF in El Salvador in 2003, found evidence of the following labor rights violations in summary:

Right to Associate

Despite the laws in the books, a significant obstacle to unionization is that the laws do not clearly specify the applicable penalties for violations. Article 627 of the Labor Code indicates that all violations of the Labor Code will result in a fine of up to 500 colones for the violator (US $50-60). This is utterly insufficient to deter violations to the right to unionize in El Salvador.

Right to Bargain Collectively

The procedures for resolving a collective bargaining conflict have legal loopholes that permit abuse through the discretion of public officials. There are no precise timelines for resolution of disputes and some cases may take years to resolve.

Child Labor

In 2001 there were a total of 222,254 minors working in El Salvador.

The Labor Code establishes the minimum age for employment at 14. However it allows minors over age 12 to perform light duties that do not put their health at risk.

The Family Code establishes that minors at least 14 years old can work with prior authorization from the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, on the condition that they perform only light work.

Wages, Hours and Working Conditions

The laws that apparently regulate mandatory overtime fail to provide sanctions for employers that require employees to work overtime. The law also fails to protect workers against the threat of being fired for refusing to work overtime.

A new emergency law for economic reactivation (LERE) is under consideration by the legislature. If approved, LERE would modify salaries and working shifts, and increase the allowed length of a trial period for new workers and the use of fixed-term contracts.