Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Bonuses

Today we are paying our employees holiday bonuses. Unlike in the US, the bonus or "aguinaldo" in Spanish, is mandatory by law. If an employee has worked for a company for 1 year then 1 quincena (2 week's salary) is due, and must be paid by December 20th. For more than one year of service, the bonus is still the same; for less it is prorated based on the time employed.

As an American I was a little taken back at the requirement of having to pay a certain amount at a given time for a bonus, what is considered to be a gift for exemplary service. That being said, Allan and I are both generous and are inclined to pay our employees more than what is required.

I think part of the reason bonuses are required is that employers probably would not pay anything to their employees during Christmas. I am only guessing based on what my employees have told me - that no one really gives raises. Once you are at a given salary it is almost impossible to receive more despite assurances by the employer to the contrary. Perhaps that is why so many employees here change jobs so often. It seems rare than someone works at a given establishment for more than a year or two. Change your job to receive higher pay. It seems the logic is reversed in the states; employers tend to pay more to keep good employees. However, from my experiences in the US hiring people, many change jobs every 3 years or less, so it is not a hard and fast rule.

One of the benefits in Mexico of leaving a job is that the employer has to pay a stipend to the employee upon their departure, so it can really be an entrepreneurial enterprise for employees to start and then leave jobs, making money upon the departure.

Unlike most Mexican companies, we do pay raises and give bonuses based on performance. The mandatory minimum bonus is the minimum we pay - more is given for exemplary performance. We have heard many gringos complain about the poor performance of Mexican workers. Allan and I have to disagree. We have very loyal and hard working employees who voluntarily stay late without complaint and even work every Saturday 1/2 day. It seems many Mexican workers also are not given a lot of flexibility. Talk to the worker who is chipping paint off the side walk to paint, and he'll tell you his sole role is just to chip paint. Perhaps this has something to do with the rather uneducated work force in Playa who are not trusted enough to perform tasks outside of their very limited set of responsibilities.

Regardless of standard practices in Mexico, Allan and I will always follow the law, doing what is required, but will also value our employees and reward them for good service, hopefully encouraging them to stay longer. The Mexican work force earns significantly less than their US counterparts and lives (at least in Playa) in much poorer conditions. As an employer and human being we feel it is our responsibility to give back as much as we can. Paying raises and giving higher bonuses is one way of doing this.

Playa del Carmen Condo and Villa Vacation Rentals

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