Employing domestic workers in Mexico is a very common practice among expats and middle- and upper-class Mexicans to help with household tasks such as cleaning, cooking, laundry, ironing, gardening, pool maintenance and childcare. Many people also employ drivers and security guards.
Domestic workers are often found by word of mouth. The best way to find staff is to tell your neighbors that you are looking for domestic help. They will ask their own staff to recommend someone they know. People may also approach you offering their services. And there are agencies that place domestic staff for a fee. This practice is not common, however, and most people prefer to find staff through personal contacts.
There are few laws governing who can employ a domestic worker in Mexico. They are part of the informal economy and are unlikely to earn the minimum taxable daily income. The average wage paid to domestic workers in Mexico is around $300 pesos, or about US$15 for a full day. Depending upon your geographical area, however, this number could vary. For instance, this salary could be for only four hours of work in popular expat locations like Los Cabos, San Miguel Allende, Mexico City or Cancún.
The best way to determine a domestic worker’s salary is to ask neighbors what the going rate is. Some apartment blocks and housing compounds have pre-agreed rates for domestic staff. Salaries are usually paid monthly. It is also customary to give one month’s salary as a bonus at Christmas. If he/she works less than three times a week, then a bonus is not customary.
Since workers in the informal economy are not covered by social security, employers often offer them additional benefits once they have been in their service for at least a year. Some employers offer to open savings accounts on behalf of their domestic workers or pay for private health insurance or their children’s school fees. It is also common for domestic workers to request loans from their employer, for which a repayment schedule will usually be agreed upon.
When hiring domestic help, the smartest way to do so is to have a simple contract drafted and signed by both employee and employer and preferably two witnesses, even if the hired help will work just one day a week.
Once a week, have them sign a receipt for their salary, whether they are employed for one day a week or six days a week. Specify in each weekly receipt that, to date, the employer (you) paid them in full and owe him/her nothing more: no vacation salary, severance, overtime, Sunday salary or other compensation. This will protect you in the event you need to fire them or if they decide to quit. Labor laws in Mexico always favor the worker, so if they sue you in Labor court, regardless of the situation, the court will grant them a considerable amount of money.
If you need to fire a domestic worker, gather all of your weekly receipts and have an attorney draft a severance letter that will void their right to sue you in court. And again, specify that you owe them nothing up to that date.
Be smart and don’t try to do things differently than what is customary in Mexico. It will save you a lot of aggravation and money.