There is a long tradition in the Yucatan of hiring household help. Because of this, there are rules and expectations that we suggest you follow in hiring, paying and firing one type of household employee, your housecleaner.
In the Yucatan, it is common to have someone to clean your house. Muchachas (literally “girls” in Spanish) clean inside the house, including floors, bathrooms, dishes, appliances and furniture. Some of them could cook, do the laundry or takes care of the kids. A mozo is a man who usually does the heavier cleaning, such as patios, windows, and maybe gardening, not the cooking or cleaning inside, but they could if you ask them to.
Workers who live in your house for the week should be allowed to regularly leave on Friday afternoon or Saturday (it depends on your agreement with them and their travel time back to their pueblo) and return to work on Monday morning. If your housecleaner lives in a pueblo outside the city, it is common practice to pay for bus fare so that he or she can get back and forth to their home on the weekend. If you have a beach house and take them with you during the summer when you go, it is absolutely expected that you will pay for their bus fare to and from home.
It is also common practice to pay aguinaldos (Christmas bonuses) to your household help. By now, it is practically expected and may be considered an insult not to do it.
Housecleaners who become comfortable with you may eventually ask you for a loan of money. If you decide to loan them money, we highly recommend that you have them sign a note designating how much they are borrowing, and take a small amount out of their payment each week to pay back the loan. If you lend them too large an amount of money, you may find yourself without a housecleaner and without a repayment of the loan.
You are not under an obligation to pay Social Security for your housecleaners or other household help. They are expected to pay for medical care themselves or sign up for the IMSS Social Security. If you do decide to pay their Social Security, we recommend that you just pay them the money that they need to sign up for it directly (seguro voluntario).
When to Pay
Household workers get paid weekly when they leave on Saturday, or if they work on a daily basis, at the end of their day of work. You should always pay them in cash, and in Mexican pesos.
Feeding Your Household Help
If your housecleaner works for the day only, you should provide breakfast and lunch. If he or she works full time for the week, then all three meals should be provided.
Household workers do not have a set vacation schedule. Instead, it is common practice for them to ask for permisos. Permisos are your permission to miss work for a fiesta in their pueblo or to visit their family in another city. It is expected that they will have federal holidays off.
If your housecleaner who lives with you is from Chiapas or somewhere outside the Yucatan Peninsula, it is common to give them 15 days a year (paid vacation) to go visit their family. This is paid vacation, as it is meant to be compensation for the Saturday afternoons when they would traditionally be visiting with their family, but because of circumstances, they stay in your home instead.
It is not common to pay for household workers if they are sick and cannot work. You may consider lending them money, but should set up a payment schedule for them to pay you back when they start working again.
There is a lot of debate about the honesty of household workers. You may be lucky to get an honest worker, but in general it is a good idea to keep your money or jewels in a safe and locked place. You should always see them when they leave your house so that they know that you are watching. This does not mean that the majority of workers are dishonest nor should you treat them that way. It’s just a precaution.
Need to know more?
These are just a few tips to make dealing with your domestic help more easily. You can find more topics and details of the Mexican employment style on our YES Employment Guide, including information of how to advertise for help, when and where to place your ads, how to hire and fire employees without exposing yourself to retribution or fines, employment taxes and employment benefits, and other rules and information applying to both formal and informal employees.