Government plans crackdown on illegal workers

Costa Rican officials diplomatically categorize illegal work as informal.

An announcement Tuesday from the  Ministerio de Trabajo estimated that 45.7 percent of the employees in Costa Rica work in what officials called informalidad.

That means the employees might receive less than the minimum wage for their efforts. Or they might not be enrolled with Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. They might not be covered by labor accident insurance. Or they may not receive the mandatory aguinaldo Christmas bonus.

They also might be immigrants working without the proper paperwork

Plenty of employes are so happy to have jobs that they willing participate in the illegalities with employers. Among these are domestic employees who work hours longer than the law allows, have little time off and get pay far below the mandatory minimum salary.

At the other end of the scale are employees of some sportsbooks and other profitable enterprises who are paid by deposits in foreign banks. Their employer gives them a credit card, frequently without a name inscribed on it, and the employee simply withdraws the money from a nearby automatic teller.

The employer does not have to pay the Costa Rican social charges, which can be more than 20 percent of the salary, and the employee does not have to pay the country’s income tax.

The Ministerio de Trabajo said that it would convene a meeting of business leaders to develop a plan to tackle the illegal work conditions.

In addition, the ministry said that the Ministerio de Economia, Industria y Comercio would present a bill to the legislature that seeks to provide certain exonerations for small businesses that have not been playing by the rules.

The announcement comes at a time when both the Ministerio de Trabajo and the Dirección General de Migración have overlooked many persons working in illegal conditions.

In fact, the government has encouraged the arrival of undocumented coffee pickers.

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