domestic worker Sign a contract, urges union.

Contract defines rights of domestic workers

Campaign launched to urge signing of new standard contract

A campaign has been launched to encourage more domestic workers — commonly known as muchachas, maids or housekeepers — and their employers to sign contracts that define the workers’ rights and give them the benefits to which they are legally entitled.

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Called “Decent work for you, for me and for all my colleagues,” the campaign aims to ensure that domestic workers are not subjected to discrimination and exploitation in their workplace.

Workers and employers signed 18 contracts on International Domestic Workers’ Day last month but now the goal is considerably more ambitious: 10,000 contracts signed before December 20, the date by which employers are legally required to pay an annual bonus called the aguinaldo.

According to Inegi, the National Statistics Institute, 95% of domestic workers are women and only 4% work under contracts in which their rights and obligations are clearly stated.

Many of them don’t receive the benefits they should and/or work under unfair conditions, say advocates on their behalf.

Consequently, the idea arose for a standard contract that formally recognizes workers’ rights to vacation days, pay rates on national holidays and the year-end bonus.

The contract is seen as an important tool because the federal government has not ratified a six-year-old International Labour Organization (ILO) convention that sets out guidelines for domestic work.

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Behind the push for a more equitable and fair workplace are the National Union of Domestic Workers, formed in 2015, and the organization Hogar Justo Hogar (Home Fair Home), which have joined with the Simone de Beauvoir Leadership Institute to launch the campaign.

Union secretary general Marcelina Bautista explained that the contract was also designed to give certainty to employers about their legal obligations to workers.

“To the benefit of both parties, [the contract] establishes mutual respect with regard to human rights, a dignified atmosphere free of harassment, physical, moral and sexual violence, respect for the intimacy and privacy of both parties and a professional work relationship.”

Martha Lamas, a researcher at the National Autonomous University (UNAM), says that labor relations between domestic workers and employers have historically been unjust and the contract is one political step towards a change in an engrained culture that could take decades to make.

A representative from Hogar Justo Hogar, Maite Azuela, emphasized that an employer should not see signing a contract as an act of kindness but rather a ratification of what is already required by the law.

She says the contract contains “very logical” rights that everyone expects to have in their employment although she concedes that she has been guilty of not fulfilling her legal obligations in the past.

“If a domestic worker works a holiday, let’s say January 1, I would have to pay double. I didn’t used to do that but I went through life saying that I was a fair employer.”

Getting everyone who employs someone in their home to comply with established laws, however, is likely to be a long battle because some people think employment laws don’t apply in a domestic situation or are simply unaware of what their obligations are.

One worker says that when she tried to stand up for her rights, she faced opposition from her employer.

“. . . she told me she simply didn’t want to see the contract. She told me, ‘I’m not going to sign anything, I’m not going to read anything, in my house you only do what I say.’”

But in another case, in which the employer-employee relationship went back 15 years, the signing of a contract led to a hug and outpouring of emotion.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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  • kallen

    A couple thoughts here.

    The people that I know that employ domestic workers in Mexico have little good to say about them: theft, laziness, unfinished work, always late or not showing up etc. So dismal are the stories that I have sworn off ever getting a domestic worker – this kind of seals it. The law of unintended consequences tells me this law will decrease hiring of domestic workers.

    Secondly. A lot of gringos are afraid of all the Mexican laws like the finiquito (pardon my spelling) and other nonsense. Its widely known in the gringo community that the Mexican branches of government dealing with worker disputes prey on gringos and favor the Mexican regardless of circumstances. This is just another tool for Mexico and unscrupulous employees to fleece the gringo.

    • This contract idea will have the same results as the 15-dollar-an-hour minimum wage.

    • Papi Thomas

      Aren’t you the happy little homemaker! We’ve had good and not-so-good workers – that’s true everywhere. A good worker is a gem and worth every effort to comply with the law and then some. Finiquito is not nonsense as you wrote. It is part and parcel of a more socialist Government, like it or not. Your paranoia about the Government preying on Gringos…my word, you should run back from whence you came but it sounds like you don’t even live in Mexico – just as well, we don’t want your kind here.

      • kallen

        Kind of a mean spirited reply there Papi so I won’t bother with explaining my position other than to say I do live in Mexico part-time so like it or not “my kind” is here.

  • BD

    PS: I would like to see a copy of the Domestic Worker Contract that is proposed.

  • Gary gimp

    Why does the government need to interfere with an agreement between two adults?

    If the worker feels exploited or believes she deserves to be paid more, she can simply quit or, as is more common, not show up for work.

    No worker is underpaid – the worker accepted the job knowing amount to be paid.

    No worker is overpaid – someone thinks that worker is worth the amount of the employer wouldn’t pay it.

  • Linda McHenry

    I will gladly sign a contract with a housekeeper when we are settled into our place in Mazatlan. But then I am also a big proponet of union labor in the states.

  • Papi Thomas

    I hope this is not a mandatory contract for, as others expressed, this will result in less hiring and more under-the-table workers. A labor contract for domestic/yard work in full compliance with the law is easy to generate in a page or two and is not near as onerous as the sample.
    But however good the worker, there must be a contract and signatures on paydays, receipts, etc. If there’s a dispute, the Government will side with the worker for that is the nature of a socialist Government.

    • Labor contracts are mandatory in Mexico and not giving a worker a written contract is an infraction that carries a fine of 50 to 100 times the UMA. ($3,364.00 to $6729.00 pesos)

  • Pat

    A representative from Hogar Justo Hogar, Maite Azuela, pays double for a holiday but she’s still not compliant with the law. She must pay triple time for work done on a Federal holiday.

    • They are probably paying triple time but the accounting is not the way you would expect. You pay the salary which includes the day of the holiday that is being worked and then you pay twice the daily wage extra. That is why she is saying she pays double time for the holiday. She pays 2 times the daily wage plus the existing salary. That is the way the accounting is handled and that is the way it is expressed in the Labor law. Article 67 of the Labor Law.

  • This is nothing new. This is more of a tool to educate uninformed persons that hire a maid or gardener. All domestic workers already have the right to overtime pay, aguinaldo, vacations, etc and the lack of a written contract means nothing. If someone works one day without a written contract, by law, they already have a permanent contract. I as an attorney would advise a domestic worker not to sign this contract because they already are protected by the Law and they may be signing away their seniority by signing the contract. Any domestic worker that does not have social security, overtime pay, aguinaldo and vacations can complain to the STPS or Social Security and an inspector will visit the workplace (or home) and fine the employer. Just because a worker works in someone’s home does not mean they are not protected by the Labor law and cannot easily sue the employer. The worker being ignorant of their rights is another issue. The STPS is the Prosecutor for the worker and is by law on the side of the worker. That is why the bar for documentation evidence from the worker is very low. Receipts, time sheets and Social Security receipts are to protect the employer and without them anyone that hires someone under the table to work in their home is very vulnerable to a lawsuit they will lose. It does not matter if the worker works in several households. Article 24 and 25 of the Federal Labor Law specify what must be included in a labor contract, all labor contracts must comply with those 2 articles. Hiring a domestic worker through an outsourcing firm does not release you from any liability. By law, you are jointly responsible and if the outsourcing does not pay Social Security or other benefits, you can be sued. I have seen many foreigners in Mexico hire persons to clean their home or perform other work and then find themselves sued for violations they did not know exist. If you fire a domestic worker, you are liable for 3 months wages, 12 days salary for every year they have worked, and their Aguinaldo (15 days wages) and vacations.

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