Costa Rica

Country Profile



Facts & Figures

Some discrepancy exists between the figures reported by different sources.

The following information is compiled in the ILO Social Protection Platform:

  • Migrant domestic workers as % of domestic workers: 23,0

  • Female migrant domestic workers as % of migrant domestic workers: 94,4

  • Urban migrant domestic workers as % of migrant domestic workers: 77,1 %

  • migrant domestic workers contributing to social security (salaried): 27,0

In Costa Rica, about 71% of the immigrant population comes from Nicaragua, representing 8,5% of the national population. 34% of employed migrant women in the country works in paid domestic work, signaling their overrepresentation in this sector when compared to working national women, of which 16% is in the domestic work sector.¹

Given the proximity between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, some of the migrants working in the domestic sector in Costa Rica are seasonal migrants, periodically returning to Nicaragua.2 They typically migrate for economic reasons, in search of better wages and escaping Nicaragua's socioeconomic crisis, and in recent years there has been an increase in the number of arriving Nicaraguans with higher levels of education in Costa Rica, as even though the domestic sector represents a devaluation of their qualifications, they still generally receive higher wages than they would in their own sectors at home.3

RESOURCES

ASOCIACIÓN DE TRABAJADORAS DOMÉSTICAS (ASTRADOMES).

Since 1991, this organization has been fighting in the defense of domestic workers in Costa Rica, and has been integral in pushing for important advances in the legal framework that protects them and recognizes their work.

In order to spread information on domestic workers' rights in Costa Rica, they created a manual for domestic work. Item 10 in this manual deals specific with the topic of migrant domestic workers.

MIGRANT DOMESTIC WORKERS OVERVIEW

This overview by the ILO Social Protection Platform compiles data on migrant domestic workers in Costa Rica, with an emphasis on social security aspects.

Legal Framework

LAW 8764 - MIGRATION POLICY

Costa Rica adopted this general law on migration in 2010. It emphasizes the role of migration in development, and has facilitated the adoption of measures for the regularization of undocumented migrant workers, including migrant domestic workers, one of the key sectors in migrant labor in the country.4

LAW 8726 - DOMESTIC WORK

This law, adopted in 2009 in a reform of the national code of labor, has been an important normative instrument in furthering the equality of domestic workers with regards to workers of other sectors.5

MIGRATORY PROCESS

Nicaraguan migrant workers must apply for a visa in Nicaragua before migrating to Costa Rica, which has the duration of 3 months. During these 3 months, the worker must find a job and contribute to the Costa Rican social security fund, which then makes them eligible for a one year temporary visa, which can be renewed given that the worker's social security quotes are up-to-date.6

ILO C189 - DOMESTIC WORKERS CONVENTION

Costa Rica is one of the 35 countries that have ratified the ILO C189 convention in 2014.

ISSUES

Although important advances have been made in regards to legislation recognizing domestic labor as work, there is a long history of invisibility and discrimination towards workers in this sector that is difficult to change.7 One important obstacle to the implementation of the laws is the lack of information, both by employers and employees. Especially for migrant domestic workers, knowledge of how to defend themselves against abuses is lacking, as well as courage to denounce them, especially for undocumented workers,8 as are many migrants in the field.

Another issue is the common practice by employers to hire informally through verbal agreements, thus avoiding compliance to the law.10

SOURCES

  1. Valenzuela, M. E., M. L. Scuro e I. Vaca Trigo. (2020). “Desigualdad, crisis de los cuidados y migración del trabajo doméstico remunerado en América Latina”, serie Asuntos de Género, N° 158 (LC/TS.2020/179), Santiago, Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL). https://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/46537/1/S2000799_es.pdf.
  2. Pomareda García, Fabiola. (2021, March 12). "Solo una de cada seis trabajadoras domésticas migrantes está asegurada ante la Caja, muestra análisis." Semanario Universidad. https://semanariouniversidad.com/pais/solo-una-de-cada-seis-trabajadoras-domesticas-migrantes-esta-asegurada-ante-la-caja-muestra-analisis/.
  3. Valenzuela, M. E., M. L. Scuro e I. Vaca Trigo. (2020). “Desigualdad, crisis de los cuidados y migración del trabajo doméstico remunerado en América Latina”, serie Asuntos de Género, N° 158 (LC/TS.2020/179), Santiago, Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL). https://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/46537/1/S2000799_es.pdf.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Bonnie, Alexandra. (2010). "Trabajadoras domésticas nicaragüenses en Costa Rica: un tortuoso camino hacia el reconocimiento". Encuentro 2010/ Año XLII, N° 87, 75-88. DOI: 10.5377/encuentro.v42i87.249.