This post is also available in: Spanish
By: Staff at Panama Offshore Legal Services
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org || Phone: (507) 227 – 6645
Ted and Sylvia from New Zealand live in Panama full time and are thinking about hiring a Panamanian maid. They want to know what the laws require.
Maids can be a cost effective way to relieve Sylvia of housekeeping burdens. Here are some useful tips:
Use a written contract. Panama law does not require written contracts or filing them with the Ministry of Labor. But, if a dispute occurs, the law favors the maid’s version and places the burden on the employer to refute the allegations. A written contract describes the maid’s duties and responsibilities. If the maid violates the written contract, the employer has the advantage.
Social Security must be paid. Some foreigners like to pay their help under the table in cash without paying social security. This can be a big problem if the maid becomes pregnant, sick, or has an accident because the employer will have to pay for all medical costs if the social security benefits have not been paid. This could include a high risk pregnancy resulting in a lot of paid sick leave paid by the employer.
Education is a right. If the maid informs the employer that she wishes to complete her education Panama law requires that the employer give her sufficient time to attend school and to study.
Foreign maids have rights. Some foreigners hire illegal aliens as maids thinking they have no legal rights in Panama. That is wrong. The international rights of workers are recognized in Panama. Hiring an illegal alien with no work permit can result in fines. In addition, all of Panama’s labor laws must be followed including minimum wages, the 13th month salary, vacations, national holidays, and working hours.
Panama’s Labor Code requires the employer to pay funeral costs for all employees who live and work in the home. Panama considers live in help as part of the employer’s family.
There is an immigration visa for foreign household employees called the Domestic Workers Visa. This visa can be used for cooks, gardeners, maids, chauffeurs, nannies, and butlers.
Prior to hiring a domestic worker consult with a Panama law firm knowledgeable of immigration, labor, and contract laws.