It’s Chile’s national holiday, which means fun get-togethers with friends and family while enjoying Chile’s national past time: eating and drinking! In addition to feasting on “empanadas”, meat and “mote con huesillo” while working off the calories with some “cueca” dancing and Chilean traditional games, Chile’s “Fiestas Patrias” also brings about an expectation of an “aguinaldo” or tip or bonus for domestic workers and certain other service providers, such as the postman and garbage collector. If you’re new to Chile and are unfamiliar with who exactly to tip and, most importantly, how much to tip, read on for a rough guide calculated by a fellow ExPat, who is married to a Chilean and living in Chile for almost 12 years.
Housekeeper or nanny or “nana”
Regardless of whether you have a full-time or part-time “nana” there is an expectation for a tip or bonus this time of year. Your more generous employers will give the equivalent of half a month to one month’s wage – especially if you love your “nana” and can afford to show your appreciation with that amount. If you’re unable to give that much, know that anywhere between CLP$35.000 and CLP$80.000 for a full-time housekeeper would still be greatly appreciated – or 10% to 20% of their monthly wage. For a part-time nana, giving at least one day’s salary would be much appreciated. Some people, in addition to giving a bonus, will also give a gift, like a bottle of wine to enjoy over the national holiday or one of those grocery gift boxes you’ve likely seen at the supermarket. I’m not a fan of those gift boxes because you need to consider that your nana likely travels at least one hour (likely more!) to get home via public transportation, and those grocery gift boxes are pretty big and heavy. Instead, consider giving a grocery store gift card that she can then use to purchase the food she can enjoy over the “18 de septiembre” holidays. This is all optional, of course, considering that you’re already giving a monetary bonus. A question that is often asked is how much to give when the “nana” (or other service provider) has only recently started to work for you…It is my opinion that you should indeed give something as a gesture of goodwill for the months or years to come that she will be working for you. It doesn’t have to be as much as you would normally give someone who has been with you a longer period of time (think half of what you would normally give) but it’s still a nice way to start your working relationship with her.
You’ll likely receive a small envelope with a “18 de Septiembre” greeting card inside it – given to you by your local garbage collectors. The greeting card itself also announces the day they will come around to collect their “Fiestas Patrias” tip. The expectation is that you remove the card and replace it with the tip you’d like to give. Normally, there are three workers and one driver to a garbage truck, so you want to make sure that your tip is enough to be shared among them. Anywhere between CLP$2.000 and CLP$5.000 per worker is good – but even $1.000 per worker is appreciated. If you live in an apartment building, then verify with administration whether or not they give a tip to the garbage collectors (which comes out of your “gastos comunes” or condo/apartment fees). If they are already taking care of the garbage collectors, then you don’t have to worry about giving anything extra (unless you want to, of course!)
Concierge and other Apartment Building Staff
If you pay “gastos comunes” then it’s likely that they are already given a “18” bonus that is taken out of your monthly building fees, but it is not uncommon for residents to give a little extra something to those workers who go out of their way to be helpful throughout the year. The “extra something” can be in the form of a tip or a gift, like a bottle of wine or pisco or the grocery store gift box. Now, if you have confirmed with the building administration that an “aguinaldo” is not given, then you should indeed give a tip to the concierge and any other building staff members whom you think do their jobs well (anywhere from CLP$5.000 to CLP$10.000 per person or a gift as mentioned above).
The postman will also likely leave a similar card with an envelope, or he/she will simply come by and ring the bell for their tip. Considering there’s just one postal worker, there is an expectation for a slightly higher tip – anywhere from CLP$5.000 to CLP$10.000 (or more if you tend to receive a lot of mail or important packages throughout the year). If you can’t afford that much, then a tip of at least CLP$3.000 would still be much appreciated. If you live in an apartment building, again, check with the building administration to see if they already provide the “aguinaldo”.
Gardener, Pool Service Provider (or other worker(s) who comes to your home on a regular basis)
Some sort of expression of gratitude is always appreciated – whether it’s a gift (like a nice bottle of wine or grocery store gift box) or a tip. If you prefer to give a tip, anywhere between $5.000 and $10.000 per person (if it’s a team of workers) or CLP$10.000 to CLP$20.000 if there’s just one worker is perfectly acceptable. Again, if you can’t afford the CLP$10.000 (especially if you’ve got many people to tip) then CLP$5.000 or a gift is still fine.
If you’re an employer at an established business here in Chile, then there is an expectation to give some sort of “18” bonus to your employees. According to La Nacion, 87% of Chilean businesses will be giving a monetary bonus to their employees this coming “Fiestas Patrias”, which will range from CLP$50.000 to CLP$90.000 per full-time worker at a large company and CLP$30.000 to CLP$90.000 at medium-sized companies. To give you an idea of what public sector employees will be receiving this year, full-time employees who earn less than CLP$709.046 per month will receive an “aguinaldo” of CLP$68.327 and employees who earn more than CLP$709.046 will receive CLP$47.430. Keep in mind that although there is no law that makes these bonuses obligatory within the private sector, once you establish a pattern of giving your employee(s) a “Fiestas Patrias aguinaldo” or bonus, the employee may have cause to issue a formal complaint with the “Direccion de Trabajo” if a bonus is not again given the following year.
It’s important to note that although these tips are optional (with the possible exception of full-time employees as noted above), it is customary here in Chile to give an “aguinaldo” to the above workers, or at the very least to your “nana”, as a symbolic demonstration of your satisfaction with their work – especially if you’ve been particularly pleased with the service they have been providing you and your family. So, when you take out your wallet or purse to pay for the “lomo”, “empanadas” and “terremotos” – don’t forget those people who work hard to make your life just a little bit easier throughout the year for you and your family!
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