Costa Rica is very serious about the health, safety and protection of it’s workers and as an ’employer,’ even if it’s just a housemaid, there are numerous guidelines that must be followed carefully.

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If you are an ’employer,’ you should remember that the ‘system’ will normally favour the ’employee’ and not the ’employer.’

I hired a Nicaraguan maid a few years ago and as my family has always done in
all of the countries we have lived in, we spoiled her by paying her too much, bought clothing for her seven children, ‘found’ food in the pantry that “I will never use this so why don’t you take it…

When I travelled abroad, Catalina was paid in full even though she was not working, and for a period far in excess of what would be considered as ‘normal’ vacation time and when I found that ‘things’ were going missing from my home and fired her, she sued me for vacation pay!

It was a vicious legal struggle that lasted for about fifteen minutes but
thanks to my attorney, she ‘settled’ for US$100 which I was thankful for because
if I wasted more than 15 minutes on that, I would have been throwing my money

If you are planning on employing any Costa Rican in practically any
capacity it would be prudent for you to work with a Costa Rican attorney who is
intimately familiar with the labor laws. If you don’t know one, just ask me! My
good friend and attorney Jos
é would be happy to help you.

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The good news is that although labor costs in Costa Rica are considered high in
comparison with our very poor Central American neighbours (all of which are much
higher than China’s labor costs), they are definitely reasonable by ‘developed’
Western standards.

Please note that when you read articles about Costa Rica salaries, this is not your total labor costs as there are social security and other contributions in addition to the wages that must be paid by the employer.

According to the US
Census Bureau
, the average monthly Social Security benefit check for retired workers in 2002 was US$895 so if you are earning US$895 which is a mere three times as much as the average Costa Rican bus driver and you are ‘retired’ in Costa Rica, you will understand why Costa Ricans will believe you are ‘wealthy.’

And you may ask – Have you learned from the experience of being sued
by your ex-maid? Nah! I’m still overpaying and buying gifts for my new maid Pamela and her family who are just wonderful…

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