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B/. (PAB)

Work Hours


The Republic of Panama is a transcontinental country in Central and South America. The capital is Panama City. Panama is rich with biodiversity and a stunning landscape. The well-known Panama Canal, the world's second-largest free trade zone, represents a significant portion of Panama's economy, while commerce, banking and tourism are significant and growing sectors. Panama has one of the Western Hemisphere's fastest growing economies, with a strategic location and stable democracy.

Employment contracts in Panama can be either in writing or verbal. Written employment contracts must include:

  • name of employer and employee,

  • probation period,

  • job description,

  • place of work,

  • working hours,

  • salary and form of payment,

  • duration of the contract if it is for a definite term, or a specific project, and

  • other terms agreed by the parties.

Fixed-term contracts must be in writing and cannot be used for permanent tasks or positions. They can be used for temporary replacement of an employee who is on leave or for a specific non-permanent task. A fixed-term contract generally cannot exceed 12 months. However, the duration of a fixed-term contract for special services and technical skills can be for up to a maximum of three years with two renewals. If the employee continues to work after the end date, the employment contract is deemed to be a contract for an indefinite period.

The standard work period in Panama is 48 hours a week and eight hours a day. Night work is between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and is limited at 42 hours a week and seven hours a day. Working hours performed during the day and night are capped at 45 hours a week with 7.5 hours a day. Working hours for young employees up 16 years of age are limited to 36 hours a week and six hours a day. Employees between 16 and 18 years of age are capped at 42 hours with seven hours a day. Overtime cannot exceed nine hours a week and three hours a day.

Employees are entitled to paid sick leave in Panama for up to one year. This allowance is paid by social security (Caja de Seguro Social) (CSS) from the fourth day of incapacity, for as long as it lasts, but not exceeding 26 weeks for the same illness. This period may be extended to one year with a medical certificate. The employer pays the first three days of the leave. The employee must have at a minimum of six months of contributions in the nine months immediately preceding the illness.

Employees are entitled to at least 14 weeks of paid maternity leave in Panama. Up to six weeks can be taken before the expected due date. In the case of pregnancy-related illness, miscarriage, still-birth or other abnormal delivery, the benefit can be extended as per the health condition with a medical certificate. Employees cannot be dismissed without justifiable reason during the first year following their return to work. Adoptive mothers receive adoption leave of 28 days. Female employees who are pregnant are not permitted to work on rest days or work overtime. Male employees are entitled to three days paid paternity leave in Panama.

The minimum wage in Panama varies by economic activity, occupation and size of the organization. Employees are entitled to a bonus known as 13th month salary, which is one month’s wages annually paid in three equal installments throughout the year, on the 15th of April, August and December.

Employees are entitled to 30 days of paid annual vacation in Panama after 11 continuous months of employment. Leave can be divided into two equal parts, if provided by collective agreement or by agreement between the employer and employee. Also, the parties can agree to accumulate up to two periods of vacation. Employees must receive the payment before three days of the beginning of the vacation.

In Panama, the public holidays are:

  • New Year's Day

  • Martyr's Day

  • Carnival / Shrove Tuesday

  • Good Friday

  • Labor Day / May Day

  • Independence Day

  • National Symbols Day

  • Colón Day

  • Shout in Villa de los Santos

  • Independence from Spain

  • Mother's Day

  • National Day of Mourning

  • Christmas Day

Panama's national health system provides basic health coverage. Private healthcare is also available; however, it is the second option of primary care service.

Employment contracts may be terminated in Panama at the end of a fixed-term contract, by mutual consent, by the employer, or by the employee. Employers must give notice or pay in lieu of notice and pay severance and seniority premiums. Employers must pay any bonuses, accrued but unused vacation and salary on a prorated basis upon termination.

  • Local Laws & Regulations

    We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.

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