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

13 Important rules when hiring a maid or caretaker in Costa RicaHaving your doubts about what to do when hiring a maid or a caretaker in Costa Rica? Imagine 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 in 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 the cost of hiring a maid is 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. Let me sum up some issues that you will find important when hiring a maid, a gardener or a caretaker.

Minimum wages

The minimum wages are set by the Costa Rican Government twice a year. Many online articles say you can get a maid in Costa Rica for under $200/month. Yes, you can but it depends on how many hours she will work.

The minimum wages in the first semester of 2012 for hiring a maid or “empleada domestica” in the first semester of 2012 is ¢139,558.75/month. This is more or less $279/month. (September 2012).

The daily minimum wages for a gardener or “jardinero” is ¢8,749.38. Also, an untrained worker, like a caretaker, is ¢235,286.98/month which is more or less $470/month (September 2012).

13 Important rules when hiring a maid

How to calculate the hourly wages

To calculate the salary per hour, you take the total monthly wages, divide it by 30 days and then by 8 hours.

Residency and working permit

If your employees are Ticos, you don’t have to worry about this, but most domestic workers in Costa Rica are Nicaraguans. For that reason, you need to be sure the worker has Costa Rica legal residency and is allowed to work. In addition, if they are illegal, you can get fined by the government for hiring an illegal worker, with 2 basic salaries up to 12 basic salaries if they catch you.

Social security and health insurance

No matter if your employee has legal residency or not, by law you are obliged to have them insured by the C.C.S.S. ( Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social ). The employer has to pay 24.17% on top of the salary to the C.C.S.S. and another 9.17% should be deducted from the salary, which makes it a total of 33,34% of the salary that should be paid to the C.C.S.S.

This will supply the domestic worker full medical insurance and pension.

Probation period

A new employee is always on probation period for 3 months and during this time the employee, as well as the employer, can terminate the contract at any time.

Domestic Worker’s rights

All Domestic workers have the right on the following:

  • Salary
  • Vacation days
  • 13th Month (Aguinaldo)
  • Workers’ comp (pre-aviso)
  • Those who work per day or per hour, get everything paid proportionately to the hours they work.

13 Important rules when hiring a maid

Working hours

The legal working hours are a maximum of eight hours in the day, forty-eight per week, or six hours a night completing thirty-six hours weekly.

However, the law allows for work up to ten hours in the day or up to eight hours in mixed days during the week as long as you do not exceed forty-eight hours.

Over hours should be paid 1.5 times

Live-in maid or caretaker’s food and accommodation

If a live-in worker receives food and accommodation, this has a value of 50% of the salary. In the case of paying the worker’s comp, this should be taken into account.

Hours and Days of rest

An 8-hour workday gives the domestic worker the right of 1 hour a day and 1 day a week rest. At least two rest days a month have to be on a Sunday. If the work days are less than 8 hours but more than 3 hours a day, the rest should be proportional.


Domestic workers should get all obligatory and non-obligatory holidays paid. If they work on any of the official holidays, the pay should be double.

Obligatory holidays in Costa Rica are: 1st of January (new year), 11th of April, Juan Santamaría day, Holy Thursday and Good Friday, 1st of May (Labor Day), 25th of July Annexation Of Nicoya to Costa Rica, 15th of August (mother’s day and day of the virgin), 15th of September (Costa Rica Independence Day) and the 25th of December (Christmas Day).

Non-obligatory holidays in Costa Rica are 2nd of August (Virgin Mary) and the 12th of October (Columbus Day),

Vacation days

Domestic workers have 15 paid vacation days per year, which is more than any other employee in Costa Rica.

13 Important rules when hiring a maid

Aguinaldo or 13th month

All domestic workers have the right of Aguinaldo, which is really the 13th month of salary and has to be paid before December 20th each year. This bonus is one-twelfth of all ordinary and extraordinary wages, earned by the worker during the twelve months ranging from 1 December of the year prior to November 30 of the year in question. So it is obtained from the sum of such salaries and divided by twelve (or calculate proportionately to the hours they have worked). Use this calculator if needed.

Termination of the working relationship

If, after three months, any of the parties wants to terminate the labor relationship, 2 weeks’ notice has to be given. The notice will become one month after one year of work.  In case this does notice is not given, the person breaching this notice has to pay the other party the value of days that correspond to the notice.

During the time of notice, the domestic worker has 1 paid day to look for a new job, no matter who gave notice. Use this calculator when needed.

For more tips on hiring a maid, a gardener or a caretaker, ask your real estate agent.

As you can see above, your GoDutch Realty agents do not only worry about selling you the right Costa Rica property. We will hold your hand in many other ways. Be smart and take advantage of “The Ultimate Costa Rica Real estate Experience”. You’ve not seen much until you’ve seen GoDutch. Contact us now to purchase your Costa Rica real estate.

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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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