Regulation of Domestic Work in Guatemala

By: Federico Zelada

It is very common in our environment that people in charge of providing domestic services are paid a salary lower than that established as minimum wage and this situation in many cases motivates that at the end of the work relationship, claims are made by the worker requesting the adjustment to the minimum wage and the payment of labor benefits, these claims in turn are seen by the employer as an act of disloyalty and it is very difficult to separate from the discussion the personal feelings of one party and the other.

To avoid this type of conflict, those of us who have the help of people to perform household chores must keep in mind that we have a working relationship with these people and therefore these workers have the same rights as the rest of Guatemalan workers. That is to say that when hiring a person for this type of services we must know that we have the obligation to pay the Aguinaldo, the Bono 14, to grant vacations, to pay the minimum salary and the monthly incentive bonus and to respect the hourly limits established by law.

Perhaps some readers have noticed these situations and find no novelty in the information I am providing, but in my professional experience there have been many cases in which I have noticed surprise when mentioning the obligation to provide any of these benefits.

Now, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the legislation for the case of domestic service has established very specific and exceptional rules. The first of these is that the salary of this type of worker is made up of what we pay in money plus what is granted for housing and maintenance, and in any case a value adjusted to reality must be established for these items.

In the case of the working day, domestic workers are not subject to the limits of the ordinary working day, but they must have a rest of at least 10 hours a day, of which 2 must be for food and 8 must be at night and continuously.

Apart from the exceptions indicated above, the remuneration and benefits of domestic workers are exactly the same as those of any other worker, but it is very important, as with other workers, to document the conditions governing the contract and especially those relating to salary remuneration, assigning a value to those benefits in kind that by law must be understood as an integral part of the salary, since this type of document, which can be drafted very simply, will help to prevent and resolve conflicts in a fairer and more equitable manner.