Nicaragua Table of Contents
Conditions of work are covered by several labor laws and are also spelled out by articles in the 1987 Nicaraguan constitution. The constitution specifies no more than an eight-hour workday in a forty-eight-hour (six-day) work week, with an hour of rest each day. Health and safety standards are also provided for by the constitution, and forced labor is prohibited.
The Labor Code of 1945, patterned after Mexican labor laws, was Nicaragua's first major labor legislation. Provisions of the code prohibited more than three hours of overtime, three times a week. Workers were entitled to fifteen days of vacation annually (eight national holidays and seven saint's days). The Nicaraguan social security program, passed in 1957, enumerates workers' benefits, including maternity, medical, death, and survivors' benefits; pensions; and workers' compensation for disability.
The constitution provides for the right to bargain collectively. In addition, the Labor Code of 1945 was amended in 1962 to allow for sympathy strikes, time off with pay when a worker has been given notice of an impending layoff, and the right to claim unused vacation pay when terminated. The minimum age for employment is fourteen, but the Ministry of Labor, which has the responsibility of enforcing labor laws, rarely prosecutes violations of the minimum-age regulation; young street vendors or windshield cleaners are a common sight in Managua, and children frequently work on family farms at a young age.
A National Minimum Wage Commission establishes minimum wages for different sectors of the economy. Enforcement of the minimum wage is lax, however, and many workers are paid less than the law allows. Labor groups have argued that the minimum wage is inadequate to feed a family of four, and in 1992 the country's largest umbrella group of unions issued a statement demanding that the government index the minimum wage to the cost of living.
Data as of December 1993