Costa Rica Labor Code on Domestic Employees
The Costa Rica Labor Code has been prepared in an elaborate manner to protect the interests of the employee. Articles 101-108 of Chapter 8 of the Labor Code apply to domestic employees. The Labor Code defines a 'domestic employee' as staff engaged in work that is necessary to maintain a household, residence, or private domicile. Domestic employees would be engaged in duties like cooking, cleaning, etc. in a home.
Probation Period, Notice Period, and Salary of Domestic Employees
A domestic employee is said to be on probation for a month and can leave without prior notice to the employer during this period. The employer too, can dismiss the domestic employee from service without prior notice or severance pay during the first month.
Domestic employees have to inform employers two weeks in advance before resigning if they have completed one month's service. The employer too has to give a two weeks' notice (Preaviso) to the domestic employee. However, once the first month of service is completed, the employer can pay two weeks' salary to the employee and dismiss him or her without a notice period. The notice period – for both the parties – is one month of prior notice once the employee has completed a year's service.
The employee can work only for half the day during the notice period, as, according to the Labor Code, the employee would have to utilize the other half of the day to look for new employment.
Documents Required For Domestic Employment
Obviously, domestic employees do not have to go through as elaborate an application procedure for a new job as employees in other sectors. However, the Costa Rica Labor Code allows the employer to ask for a certificate of good health from the domestic employee. The Costa Rica Ministry of Health issues such certificates free of charge to domestic employees Health.
Duties of an Employee
The Labor Code specifically states that domestic employees would follow instructions and perform household duties to the best of their abilities. In addition, domestic employees would be discreet about the personal life of the members of the employer's household.
The Ministry of Labor releases a minimum wages list for various occupations every six months. The list also details what domestic employees should be paid. However, the employer is obliged to pay salary in cash and offer room and board to the domestic employee. The 'room' and 'board' are viewed as salary in kind (pago en especies) translating to at least an additional 50 per cent of the regular salary paid in cash.
Working Hours and Holidays
Domestic employees are legally allowed to work for 12 hours a day with includes an hour's break. Domestic employees are allowed half a day's leave once every week on any day. The Labor Code states that the half-day leave should be allowed at least two times on a Sunday in a single month. Domestic employees also get half days off on all public holidays. Domestic employees earn overtime pay if they work on holidays.
Domestic employees are entitled to take two weeks of vacation every year of employment. The employer has to compensate for any pending vacation time if a domestic employee is fired. In addition, domestic employees who are not 16 years old should be allowed to attend school.
Miscellaneous Provisions in Labor Code for Domestic Employees
Domestic employees are entitled to salary during periods of illness according to time completed in employment. Severance pay details are also listed in the Labor Code if the employer dies, services of the domestic employee are terminated illegally, employee resigns due to violation of duties, etc.
In addition, the employer is obligated to register domestic employees with the Social Security Administration (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social) and take out a valid Workers Compensation Policy with the National Insurance Institute (I.N.S.)