The Ecuadorian Congress has recently approved the publication of interpretative Law No. 2002-88 in Official Register No. 689 on October 23, 2002. This new law holds that Article 113 of the Ecuadorian Labor Code entitles employees to a "fourteenth" bonus; equivalent to one basic unified salary for general laborers.

The establishment of this additional remuneration stems the family wage earner’s economic needs during the back-to-school period, which are often not met by the employee’s normal monthly salary.

Although the Organic Legislative Functions Law establishes that the Ecuadorian Congress can interpret laws (and thus the above mentioned interpretative law has presumably complied with the prerequisites when it was published in the Official Register), the passage of this law has engendered political controversy. Because interpretive laws are deemed to have retroactive effect, the economic consequences of this new law to employers and the government are substantial, as neither of these sectors has budgeted for this global bonus. This law, although now in effect, will mostly be appealed to the Constitutional Tribunal. This entity will then have the duty to determine whether of not interpretative Law No. 2002-88 violates the Ecuadorian Political Constitution.

Constitutional arguments will be based on the assertion that this law is not just interpretative but a substantial modification to the Labor Code. For in light of the fact that minimum salary (as established by the code) has not been overturned, the law should have been presented to the President for his approval or partial/total veto.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.