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Domestic Help in Guatemala

Most domestic employees speak only Spanish and are uneducated and untrained. Good cooks can be hard to find. It is preferable to seek a servant who has worked for other expatriates and has references. Laundresses, nursemaids and general cleaning maids are available but inexperienced; full-time, reliable, servants are becoming increasingly scarce. Trained nannies are rare.

Wages for a full-time household servant, based on ability and experience, range from Q800-1,600 a month. Families, as well as single personnel occupying apartments, should have domestic help to take care of marketing, cleaning and errands. Most importantly, it is unwise to leave a house or an apartment unoccupied for even a short period of time. Many single employees living in apartments hire a part-time, all-purpose maid who sleeps out. Most houses have servants’ quarters, but some apartments do not. Day maids receive about Q75 per day.

It is customary to provide locally made uniforms, although some maids prefer to wear their own clothing. A servant is expected to attend to minor medical problems, but if major medical attention is required, a local physician should be consulted before using the state-operated hospital facilities. Servants are entitled to 15 paid vacation days’ each year. Upon discharge, employees are, by law, paid 1 months’ salary for each year of service or a pro-ration for time worked. A Christmas bonus, equal to 1 months’ salary (the so-called “aguinaldo”) is mandatory. A compulsory, 14th-month bonus (“bono catorce”), equal to a full month’s salary, is also paid to an employee on June 30, contingent upon completion of 1 year of employment by that date. For an employee working less than 1 year on June 30, the payment is proportional.

Most families occupying housing with even a minimal amount of garden space employ a gardener for lawn maintenance. Gardeners, generally employed for 1-2 days per week, earn approximately Q70-100 per day for a full day’s work.





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