SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA – September 17, 2012 – Workers will now have the right to a state defense attorney in trials against their employers.
The measure will benefit those employees whose incomes are not more than two minimum salaries of an auxiliary 1 in the Poder Judicial. That comes to a monthly income of 721,000 colones per month.
Under the new law, in a labor trial, any person that earns less than that amount can request the aid of a state-appointed attorney, in order to face their employer in court.
The new measure will be in force once the President of the Republic, Laura Chinchilla, approves the measure known as the new Labor Procedural Code, which was approved by legislative officials on Thursday, on their second debate.
The bill had the support of 40 out of the 57 legislative officials, and now only the President’s signature, as well as publication in the official newspaper, La Gaceta, are the only things needed in order for bill to become law and take effect.
Currently, the Public Defense office only provides legal counseling in family and penal trials. The new law would mean additional responsibilities for public defenders.
“We believe this will be more work for the Office of Public Defense, but they will get accustomed to it. What we expect is to shorten the processes by having verbal trials, therefore, there will be less use of resources,” said Luis Gerardo Villanueva of the PLN (National Liberation Party).
“It is a way to help those workers without resources who currently have no support,” he added.
Jose Maria Villalta, from “Frente Amplio” said the Public Defense office would require additional funding after the law comes into effect.