Astradomes Demands Social Security Coverage for Domestic Workers in Costa Rica
In Costa Rica, there is currently a debate going on across the nation. There are almost
140,000 people who are employed as domestic workers in the country, but only 30% of
them are insured and receive benefits through the Costa Rican Department of Social
Security (CCSS). This situation is a cause for alarm for the Association of Domestic
Workers (Astradomes), which is demanding that the government of President Luis
Guillermo Solís provide coverage to all domestic workers, even those employed by the
Since the adoption of the International Labor Organization Convention No. 189 in 2011,
domestic workers in Costa Rica have demanded respect for their working hours, access to
social insurance, overtime pay, and compliance with the Convention No. 189, which
requires that governments ensure that dignified working conditions and social security
insurance coverage for domestic workers can become a reality.
Groups and collectives whose work is related to this topic have fought to include domestic
workers in the Costa Rican Department of Social Security, including those workers that
labor less than eight hours a day. However, that petition has not been honored to date.
Costa Rican law states that if a domestic worker works in several homes and her total
wages do not reach the minimum required by law, each employer should pay for their
share of the employees’ social security, which would provide extra benefits to the worker.
Yet this promise has not been fulfilled. The reason this is the case is that the CCSS
requires that for a domestic worker to qualify for social security, she must work full-time or
We spoke with Rosita Acosta, Coordinator of Astradomes (an FCAM partner organization),
to understand more about this group’s demands.
What does the domestic workers’ law establish in Costa Rica?
That every domestic worker be insured. The problem lies with the workers who are
contracted by the hour. For example, if a domestic worker spends four hours working in a
house, that shift is not classified as half time. Which means that these women cannot get
insurance. Through our struggle, we were able to get approval for this demand. Yet the
main reason that prevents the law from being enforced is the high cost of insuring a
What progress has been made on this issue in recent months?
Proposals have been submitted in order to decrease the cost of social security. The most
recent proposal through which we made some progress is the one that the government
presented a few months ago. This proposal subsidizes a part of the cost of insurance. The
subsidy would make it more affordable to insure this type of domestic worker. But now the
government is saying that they don’t have the money to pay for this.
What if the government were to retract its support of the decision to subsidize
social security coverage for domestic workers?
If the government declares a firm NO, we plan to hold a demonstration, because this
proposal was a promise that the government made to us. For now, we are awaiting an
official statement with their final decision.
What are the benefits that this type of social insurance offers for women that only
work a few hours?
The biggest benefit is that all domestic worker women, whether they are Costa Rican or
migrants, have the right to social insurance…and not just for themselves, but also for their
children. Domestic workers can’t afford to work without insurance. We get sick too.
Women who sleep at the homes where they work or the women who work a full day are
required by law to be insured, but those that only work for four hours a day are not. This is
Governments have to enforce the law and carry out the ILO Convention No. 189. We have
been fighting for this for many years, insisting that they need to follow through. We
demand that the Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Advocacy, and other state institutions
organize campaigns to raise awareness about this topic, and that they do their part to
enforce the laws.