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Do you pay staff for sick days, and how much?


kimanjome
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General question do those who have household help, like maids and gardeners.  İf your worker notifies you of a day off for medical appointment or illness, do you pay them?  İf so, how many times do you do this per year?  Mi

In the past, whenever my gardener  advised me in advance of an appointment, he would ask to switch workdays at my home, which was fine.  A few times over the course of the year  i would pay him, nevertheless, even if he didn't work. However, the last few times he had not made up the missed days (he always takes the entire day).  He is averaging missing one day a month, that is, 1 out of 12 workdays.  He is reliable and a good worker. This most recent time he showed me his cita, appointment notification, and I told him no problem.  However, after I asked him if he would prefer to switch days or not be paid for his time/day off, he became upset and blew up at me.

According to him, workers in Mexico have the right to be paid for doctors appointments and medical leave.  I asked if he knew how many paid sick days or doctor appointments were allowed per year.  He did not know, but told me that is a law i need to check on.

This brings me back to my housekeeper, who wants IMSS, which means I become her employer.  Although I want to do the right thing for her, I think by becoming her employer I lose a lot of my rights, and my gardener will want equal treatment for himself, and then suddenly I am running a business out of my home (with all the paperwork involved) which is the exact opposite of what I wanted when I retired. 

As a side question: why am I having these issues with my workers? I have had them for under a year, I retained them when I bought the house.  I understand the previous homeowner who had them was scared to say no (she spoke no Spanish) and was very lenient. I have asked friends and neighbors and most are similar in mindset, they "let it slide" or "don't want to rock the boat".  Then there are those on this forum who say we are being taken advantage of and this is not how most domestic workers act.  I am confused!

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In 12 years I have never had a housecleaner or gardener ask for time off for medical appointments or for IMSS coverage.  I don't think you are obliged to pay for sick days but you are obliged to pay for "vacation" days, which most workers never actually take, so maybe you could make the days he takes off his "vacation" days so that you don't have to pay them out at the end of the year with his aguinaldo. Instead he gets that one day a month with pay.

I sure hope that when you bought the house the realtors made sure you got finiquitos for the years they worked for the previous owner. 

 

 

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55 minutes ago, kimanjome said:

General question do those who have household help, like maids and gardeners.  İf your worker notifies you of a day off for medical appointment or illness, do you pay them?  İf so, how many times do you do this per year?  Mi

In the past, whenever my gardener  advised me in advance of an appointment, he would ask to switch workdays at my home, which was fine.  A few times over the course of the year  i would pay him, nevertheless, even if he didn't work. However, the last few times he had not made up the missed days (he always takes the entire day).  He is averaging missing one day a month, that is, 1 out of 12 workdays.  He is reliable and a good worker. This most recent time he showed me his cita, appointment notification, and I told him no problem.  However, after I asked him if he would prefer to switch days or not be paid for his time/day off, he became upset and blew up at me.

May be time to look for a replacement gardener.  But maybe your definition of "blew up at me" is different that what I envision.  I have engaged the services of many Mexicans over the years and have never had any of them "blow up at me."  

Putting that aside, our gardener adjusts his own hours when he misses a day or sometimes leaves early one day and makes it up by working longer.   Or not.  Sometimes he brings a helper, his relative (we don't pay his helper).  

We pay our gardener for 10 hours a week whether he works 10 hours or not.  The yard looks good and he takes care of our pool...as long as that remains the case, we don't track his hours.  We pay him for rain days and I assume everyone does; there were a few weeks last summer when he couldn't do much in heavy downpours.  

One week he did ask us to deduct a day's pay from his pay when he did not work.  If he didn't ask us to short him, we wouldn't have.  

When he went on vacation last year, beforehand he brought by his "replacement" so we could meet him.  He said the man had filled in for him before (like you, we re-hired the previous homeowner's gardener, and yes, we have a copy of the finiquito she paid him).  While our gardener was gone, we paid the fill-in what we normally paid our regular gardener.  At year's end we paid our gardener his full vacation pay...not sure under those circumstances if we should have or not, but we felt his finding someone to fill in for him was very commendable.  I don't know what we would have done if he just announced he was leaving for 2 weeks; it's not like you can easily find substitutes for a short period of time. 

Maybe it comes down to how happy you are with your workers.  

 

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He works 12 days a month. Has no contract with you. Belongs to no unión and has no unión contract you signed so gets nothing when taking the day off for any reason. Unions usually get workers 2 hours off with pay with advance notice and proof for Dr. appointments. Without a signed unión contract it is up to the owner what they want to do in this case, not the worker himself unless it is specified in a personal contract you signed. You are not legally obligated for paying him the day off. IMO

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Alan is right, and this is troubling unrest. Obviously the maid and the gardener have been talking. Once they start an issue with you, they will never forget. It is difficult to find good people, but I would rather face that challenge than the other impending problems, so now is a good time to start weaning.

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1 hour ago, Bisbee Gal said:

We pay our gardener for 10 hours a week whether he works 10 hours or not.  The yard looks good and he takes care of our pool...as long as that remains the case, we don't track his hours.  We pay him for rain days and I assume everyone does; there were a few weeks last summer when he couldn't do much in heavy downpours.  

Maybe it comes down to how happy you are with your workers.  

 

Thanks, Bisbee. I am familiar with your gardens and pool, they are the same sizes as mine, except my pool is smaller. Actually, our yard shrank when we put in a  small pool, and the gardener insisted he would take care of the pool.  After three months we noticed that he was unable to do so, and thus, we hired a pool service. So, his job duties have changed. Nevertheless, he still maintains our yard gardens satisfactorily, as well as the street side of the house, and he trims back large tree limbs as needed, so I need not call a tree service. 

When it rains we have him sweep the garage, or put the cars in the street to wash them. Sometimes he will leave, as there is truly nothing to do.  We pay him, regardless.

What I am not liking is how there seems to be some kind of competition between the gardener and housekeeper; if we give him something, like an old wrought iron grate, then the next time we are discarding something, she makes a point of stating that the gardener got it last time, and  she would like to have it this time.  And vice versa. Its almost like they sibling rivals, but they are both in their 50s! 

My husband has suggested that we (meaning, me and the gardener,  then later, me and the housekeeper) sit down at a table and discuss vacation, sick days, and time off. So the policy of this household is clear.  Take it or leave it. Also, do we continue to provide coffee and food for the housekeeper, and sodas for the gardener and his helper? Everyone I have spoken to says they provide drinks and food, as well as freebies, like old TVs and refrigerators, etc. 

About the gardener blowing up: yes, he became loud and agitated, waving his arms, insisting he is a good person (true)....due in part, I am sure, to his frustration in not knowing the rules of household, as they have been inconsistent between hubby and myself. On the other hand, should we really need to have strict rules?

 

 

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1 hour ago, gimpychimp said:

... so maybe you could make the days he takes off his "vacation" days so that you don't have to pay them out at the end of the year with his aguinaldo. Instead he gets that one day a month with pay.

I sure hope that when you bought the house the realtors made sure you got finiquitos for the years they worked for the previous owner. 

 

 

Do we have to pay the vacation days at the end of the calendar year? We didn't. We thought we would pay at the end of one year, from the date we retained them. (Although we did pay their aquinaldo PLUS an additional 2-week bonus!). They haven't worked one year for us yet.

Yes, they were paid their finiquitos at closing.

 

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From these posts, I gather that the gardener feels that he has been insulted, and the housekeeper feels short-changed, while the employers admit to inconsistencies in their directions to both employees.

As such, it would seem that the employers have a serious discussion with each other regarding the responsibilities of their employees.  Once that is settled, it would make sense to calmly and politely clear the air with the employees; even admitting that they may have been unclear, or inconsistent with their directions, and/or unfamiliar with the local methods, customs and procedures.

If that proves too difficult, or if it does not satisfy all parties, then there should be a formal dissolution of the employer/employee relationship, with finiquitos, and a re-evaluation of whether or not to consider having employees, and of how to manage their duties.

Since “small town rules“ may apply, we found that having a housekeeper from Ajijic and a gardener from Chapala worked out very nicely, as they had not known each other and had no “history“. That was a lesson we learned early on, from experience in both towns.

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2 hours ago, kimanjome said:

Do we have to pay the vacation days at the end of the calendar year? We didn't. We thought we would pay at the end of one year, from the date we retained them. (Although we did pay their aquinaldo PLUS an additional 2-week bonus!). They haven't worked one year for us yet.

Yes, they were paid their finiquitos at closing.

 

We paid our gardener his vacation pay when we paid him the alguinaldo.  He had worked for us only from May 1st, but Rolly Brook's formulae for both pay-outs take into account number of days or weeks worked per year.  His site says: The vacación must be paid in cash, either before the vacation or before the end of the year if no vacation has been taken.    

The workers may be testing you and a formal sit-down over the rules may fix it.  We felt our gardener tested us at the beginning by showing up in the evening with his family (his normal work arrival time is 7:30 to 8AM, 2 hours a day).  The first time he showed up late (after 6PM) we let it slide, thinking he must have a had a good reason to come late.  The 2nd time (the following week) we let is slide.  The 3rd time we explained to him that we preferred he come in the morning.  About 2 weeks he later, he and his family showed up again, quite late (it was dark before they left).  Having his family here wasn't the issue; it was the time of day.  We like to sit outside in the evenings and we enjoy our privacy.  

I spoke with him quite bluntly that night telling him he could only come in the mornings.  My Spanish is so-so (he speaks no English), but I must have gotten my point across as that was over 8 months ago and he has not come in the evenings since.  We travel every few months for a week or two and  I assume he brings his family to the property in the evenings when we are away and that's OK with us.  

It never dawned on us to ask him to do any household chores for us when it rains, I view his job as taking care of our garden and pool.  We don't have a housekeeper so we don't have the dynamic you are experiencing.  When we lived here 2008 to 2012, we had no household help, so this is new to us, too.  

After hearing many stories from other expats over the years we made a commitment to not get involved with our gardener on a personal level.  We address each other formally.  We do not provide him with drinks/food or used clothing.  We gave him a generous Christmas  bonus in addition to his aguinaldo and vacation pay; I happed to be making Christmas treats that day and we sent him home with a boxful.  I greet him every morning when he arrives, I ask him how his family is, we chat about weather, supplies he needs, how the plants are doing.  We pay him extra for extra work (we ask him what he would charge, and we've never tried to bargain it down).  

Buena suerte!

 

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2 hours ago, kimanjome said:

..............About the gardener blowing up: yes, he became loud and agitated, waving his arms, insisting he is a good person (true)....due in part, I am sure, to his frustration in not knowing the rules of household, as they have been inconsistent between hubby and myself. On the other hand, should we really need to have strict rules?

His reaction might have been a deal-breaker for me.  

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Kimanjome- Your question "should we really need to have strict rules?" gives some indication about why you are having these problems with your staff. It is not a matter of rules. It is a business relationship. There are laws governing alguinaldo, vacation days, and holidays . Follow those. Sit down as a couple and decide how you want things to go with your workers, you need to be on the same page- you can't tell the workers one thing, or expect certain behaviors, and your husband another.

I never have led my workers to "expect" things, like lunch, the gifting of things like TVs that you don't want anymore, etc. If I cut up a bunch of fruit for myself, I'll ask my cleaner if she'd like some. If I'm making a cup of tea, I'll offer one. If some guy shows up to work for a day and I realize he hasn't brought himself a lunch, or even water, I'll bring him a big jar of water and ask if he wants a sandwich, but I don't hire those workers back, I like the ones who are self-sufficient. I am paying them to do a job, it is not my responsibility to be their mommy. 

My maid had some health issues, she called in sick quite a few times, but never expected to get paid for those days- she would ask if I wanted her to come the following day instead, or just show up on the regular day the following  week. I sometimes offer her things she might find useful that I no longer want, but that was few and far between, not a regular thing.

You either need new staff and start over on the right foot, or to be clear about your expectations with the ones you presently have. 

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I had one worker who I called for various small jobs- not only did he never feel entitled to anything but his pay, he always showed up with the appropriate tools (if I needed some garden work done, he came with machete and pruners, if a little cement work, then those tools, he never expected to use my pruners, for instance) he always came with a big thermos of water, a hearty lunch, and something extra in his lunch for me- if he packed a granola bar for himself, he brought one for me, too. Unfortunately, he moved out of my area.

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1 hour ago, Tiny said:

Just seems that they need money more when they have to take off because they or family member is sick because of the additional expenses.  My house keeper had to take off last week between her father was sick.  I guess that I am not that cheap.  What is a few pesos?

Maybe we both miss each other's point. My point is I feel if you have a great worker that needs time off if they or their family member is sick, I think it is cheap if you do not paid them for a sick day.

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Based upon the responses, it seems like there is a wide range of differences between employees and their expectations.  Likewise, how employers treat their help.   One couple I know have a maid and gardener 1x a week,  4 hours.  They always provide their workers lunch. Another employer provides her maid with bus money, pastries for breakfast, coffee, and castoff clothing and household goods.  There are those employees who pout or hint at getting something, and others who would never think of doing so. 

I have been an employee in the past, and I have done--and continue to do--menial labor. I shovel holes, I paint walls, I use a drill and a saw-zall. I know how hard that work is and I appreciate the effort and treat the workers more than fairly, or so I believe. However, I am feeling that the more I give, the more is expected, and it has become a vicious cycle.

Yes: the best idea is to sit down and have a calm discussion to make clear our (employer) parameters.

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Tiny, I agree with your last post. But, if it happens really frequently then I start to wonder.

I've (we) have some wonderful employees over the last 22 years here and I value them. In San Miguel,  we had the same housekeeper for the full nine years and she did not want to accept her finiquito and said it wasn't necessary because of other things that we had done for her and her family over the years. We insisted and helped her to set up a bank account too. In San Pancho, our housekeeper informed us that she was pregnant and would be leaving. I asked if she could talk it over with her husband because we had already sold the house and if she could stay, she would receive her finiquito in five weeks and that would be good for both herself and the baby.

So, yeah, I value good employees. There are duds here and NOB.

 

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LOL. My housekeeper doesn't say a thing about my one bedroom/one bathroom little house in Riberas. Hers is three bedroom/two bathroom in the center of Ajijic.  She has initiative, arrives on time once a week, calls if something happened and she can't come,does a great job,  and is good with my two dogs. She's happy and I'm happy. End story.

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Every employer needs  a contract or in the end it can become costly and frustrating.

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