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Failure of Employer To Register Domestic Worker With The Caja Can Be Costly At The End

According to data by the CCSS, 46% of domestic workers do not reach the year of work with a single employer. In addition, only 30% have work guarantees and 14% are insured. Photo, Marcela Bertozzi, La Nacion

Employing domestic labor for two people for almost two decades but without paying the social security, in the end will be more expensive to the employer, who now faces a judicial collection from the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) – Costa Rican Social Security Fund – for ¢20 million colones.

The workers are a couple; the woman was hired to clean house and the husband for the upkeep of the beach house. Both filed a complaint against their employer upon being fired after 18 years of employment.

As per procedure, the CCSS or Caja first proceeded to collect by an administrative process, but the the employer did not appear for the hearing. For that reason, the Caja resorted to the judicial courts in which it requested and embargo of salary and annotations on the property and other goods owned by the employer.

Gustavo Picado, financial manager at the CCSS, told La Nacion, the case is one of the most extreme faced by the institution because of the high amount being collected, but it exemplifies the situation faced currently by 447 employers of domestic employees facing similar actions from the Caja. Picado explained that of these, 238 are in the administrative collection process and 209 have been elevated to the judicial collection.

The Caja manager said that there are two types of defaulters: employers who never enroll their employees and those who did, but at some point stopped paying. In any case, collection procedures are initiated once the domestic worker files a complaint.

Last year, in 2016, the Caja had to take action against 510, the majority, 291, in the central offices in San Jose, the other 117 in regional centers including the communities of Guadalupe, Desamparados, Cartago, Turrialba, Heredia, Brunca region in the southern zone, La Chorotega in Guanacaste, the Huetar Atlántico and Huetar Norte.

According to Picado, in his opinion, the numbers of complaints are really low, considering that currently, of the 172,000 people who work at domestic jobs in the country, only 15,000 are registered by an employer.

Another 20,000 are direct contributors or self-employed insured.

For the manager, domestic employees have the right to file a complaint if the employer does not enroll them with the Caja, which should be within eight days of starting work. The reality, however, is that many employers feel the employee is in a probationary period and they do not know if they will work out, maybe last a month or two.

The confusion stems from the “probationary” period of the labor laws in the country, where it employees are on “probation” for the first three months of employment. When it comes to the Caja enrollment and payment of social security, however, there is no probationary period and the obligation starts at the time the domestic worker is hired.

Failure to comply comes at a high cost, according to Picado.

The manager explained that even if the employer after registering an employee, stops making payments to the Caja, the domestic worker is covered and the employer will be responsible for medical bills for any care the Caja provides the domestic worker.

“If the employer becomes delinquent (in paying the Caja), the domestic worker can go to any clinic (ebais as the local clinics are known), she (given that most domestic workers are women) will not have any problem because she will be attended, without any barriers. But after leaving the clinic, the Caja is going to bill the employer for the cost of the services provided,” explained Picado.

In the event the employer who has not registered the domestic worker and the domestic worker reports it, after conducting an investigation the CCSS can register the domestic worker and force the employer to pay all arrears from the day of hiring.

If the complaint if filed after the being fired, the domestic worker can obtain all the quotas (credit) for disability, old age and death benefits for the period they were not registered.

Registration made easy. As of today, Wednesday, August 9, 2017, employers can register domestic workers online at the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social website.