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In the early 20th century, Uruguay was the first country in the world to adopt the eight-hour workday and, to this day, its advanced labor laws make it an attractive option for people who want to emigrate.

Workers’ rights include, among others, limited working hours, leaves of absence, salary supplements and severance pay. In addition, workers must join the social security and health system that covers disability, retirement, sickness, occupational accidents, maternity, unemployment, and death.

According to Uruguayan legislation, foreign workers have access to the same rights and obligations as nationals, and employers are required to comply with the labor and social security laws in force as if they were domestic workers.

Rosaly Jiménez

The process to obtain my papers as a resident was really fast. In less than a month I could already brag about my own resident card in process, and 15 days later I started in what was my first job as a Systems Engineer. It is important to know that you never forget or stop missing your culture, but Uruguay definitely embraces you, adopts you and makes the whole cumbersome process as painless as possible.

Country of origin: Cuba

Year of arrival: 2017


On the website of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security you can find the updated information on labor laws related to: 


  • Occupational accidents and occupational diseases: All the information regarding the procedure to follow and the different types of compensation for each case.

  • Supplementary Annual Salary or Bonus: One twelfth of the total salaries paid in money by the employer in the twelve months prior to December 1st of each year. It is paid half in June and the other half in December. 

  • Weekly rest: It is mandatory for workers in all commercial and industrial enterprises and their premises, regardless of their nature. The duration is different in industry and commerce. In the former it is 24 hours and in the latter 36 hours.

  • Intermediate breaks: The regime of breaks in the working day is regulated according to the sector of activity.

  • Layoffs: The country has laws adapted to different types of layoffs according to the area of activity and type of job position. 

  • Procedural provisions: Information related to the protection of citizens in the enjoyment of their right to work, and the willingness to make an attempt at conciliation prior to filing lawsuits before the Courts.

  • Differential payments on holidays: The legislation provides for variable calculations according to the type of holiday (working or non-working) and the days of the week on which the holiday falls in the annual calendar.

  • Working hours: There is a double limitation on the working day: working hours may not exceed 8 hours a day, nor more than 44 or 48 hours a week, depending on whether one works in commerce or industry.

  • Overtime: Overtime is considered to be that which exceeds the legal or conventional limit applicable to the activity and labor category.

  • Leave: The country has a broad legislation on leaves ranging from the general annual leave regime to seniority leave, gynecological medical examinations, blood donation, maternity, paternity, sickness, study, marriage, and bereavement, among others.

  • Maternity and paternity leave: The country has current laws to regulate maternity leave that include a rest period of at least 14 weeks, salary during leave, parental care allowance, and other related issues.

  • Vacation pay: All workers in the private sector and non-state public entities shall receive from their employers an amount for the better enjoyment of their vacation leave equivalent to 100% of the liquid vacation pay, which must be paid before the beginning of the leave and proportionally to the corresponding days. 

  • Salaries: The salary is the remuneration or profit, provided that it can be paid in cash, established by agreement or by law. Salaries can be established: by time worked (monthly, daily, or hourly); by production (by commission, piecework, incentive, ensuring—at least—payment of a regular salary, for 8 hours of work); by mixed system (basic salary by time, and upon reaching a minimum production, a percentage is established by commission or production).

  • Unemployment insurance: All workers usually employed in any remunerated activity are entitled to unemployment insurance. In all cases, the minimum term of employment required must have been fulfilled within the 12 months immediately prior to the date on which the grounds for unemployment are established.

  • Sickness insurance: Beneficiaries will receive the equivalent of 70% of all their income on certain conditions that must be met.

  • Youth Employment Law: This is an incentive instrument for hiring young people between 15 and 29 years of age that promotes the creation of new jobs, work and training internships and the reduction of working hours for study purposes through a salary subsidy.

  • Law for Employment Promotion of Persons with Disabilities: Employers in the private sector that have twenty-five (25) or more permanent workers, in all new staff hiring after November 18, 2018, must employ persons with disabilities, who meet the conditions and suitability for the position.

Source: Ministry of Labor and Social Security

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