Costa Rica Employees

Aguinaldo or Christmas bonus in Costa Rica is obligatory

Aguinaldo or Christmas bonus in Costa Rica is obligatoryIn most countries around the world, employees do not receive any Christmas bonus. Christmas bonus – Aguinaldo in Spanish – is obligatory in Costa Rica. `    

You might not run a business but if you’re an expat living in Costa Rica, you probably have an employee even though you don’t realize you do. The house keeper, cleaning lady, the gardener, or the handy man that comes in regularly for any amount of hours is an employee. The caretaker, who lives on your property, is definitely an employee.

Over the years, I have met expats who think they treat their employee real well. They give them coffee in the morning, lunch and a coke in the afternoon. AND they pay them well, they say. But they really don’t because they don’t pay their employee aguinaldo.

Most employees that work for a family like yours and mine only work for a few hours. Our maid, cleaning lady or housekeeper, whatever you want to call her, is a part-time employee. Her name is Argentina, like the country, but she is originally from Nicaragua. Argentina works in our household only Tuesdays, Wednesday and Fridays, from 8 am – 4 pm.  And Argentina is a legal resident of Costa Rica.

6 reasons for NOT paying your employees in Costa Rica by the month

                                                                                                                                                        by Ivo Henfling

6 reasons for NOT paying your employees in Costa Rica by the monthMost of the time, I find new topics for my blogs while being with clients, mostly the nicer ones and the most communicative. This time, we are killing some time while waiting for another realtor who was running late and my client asks “when do I pay my maid and my gardener, once a month?

This reminded me of when I was a 15 year old I was looking for a Saturday job, so I’d have some spending money. I was hired immediately for the most interesting job I’ve held in my life: filling shelves in a supermarket. I wasn’t smart enough at the time to ask when I would get paid, so at the end of the day I went for my money. The manager looked at me like I was from a different planet and said: “at the end of the month”. I never went back and found myself a Saturday job that was just as interesting, washing dishes at a retirement home. But it had two advantages, they served a great lunch and they paid every Saturday.

In Costa Rica, most full time household employees in Costa Rica like a maid or gardener as well as factory workers and other jobs that don’t require any high level education, are paid by the week. Though a lot of household employees are great employees who have no vices at all, you better feel safe than sorry. Do NOT pay them by the month.

8 Unusual things housekeepers in Costa Rica do

8 Unusual things housekeepers in Costa Rica doThis week, I would like to share with you some unusual things housekeepers in Costa Rica do that are very normal to them.

Housekeepers do these strange things because they come from a different culture and background than us and you should realize this before you hire her.

Some of these acts are committed because of lack of knowledge that we assume they have, other because their logic is different than ours, both because of a different lifestyle. It does not mean they are wrong.

I DO want to thank Don for sending me an email this week where he gave me the idea for this blog and #1 on the list: Ivo, thanks for your new blogs. I always find them quite interesting and informative. An interesting but useless fact learned from an employee of the 3M Company over a glass of wine at a winery event nearby our home in October: Costa Rica has the highest per capita usage of 3M Scotch-Brite Sponges in the world.


13 Important rules when hiring a maid or caretaker in Costa Rica

13 Important rules when hiring a maid or caretaker in Costa RicaImagine never having to clean your house again, or having to do the laundry and ironing shirts and pants. Cleaning the windows, do the yard and clean your pool. You’ll be able to finally sit down on your terrace with a good book, or just have a rum ‘n coke and enjoy the views. You got it right, you have just arrived to Costa Rica.

The cost of living in Costa Rica has gone up but hiring a maid, gardener or caretaker is still very affordable. Being able to afford a full time maid or housekeeper to take care of your home is one of the main attractions of living in Costa Rica. While in New York you might have to pay $75 a day for a housekeeper, in Costa Rica you can have a full time maid for under $15/day.

If you have ever been an employee, I am sure you wanted to be treated right by your employer. Now it is your turn to be an employer and obey the labor laws of Costa Rica.