I, too, have lived here in México for a long time. 18 years now. My own ama de llaves has worked for me for 15 of those years and seems quite happy.
She comes in daily M through F for a supposed six hour day which really works out to about 5 except on very special occasions. On Saturday she shows for an hour. She has a liberal time off policy. I give here a two week Aguinaldo. I pay her Social Security Medical plan for herself and her two daughters (unmarried mother) and she gets time off with pay for all medical appointments and she has lots of them. She gets two meals a day free. She has two weeks of paid vacation a year. She gets her birthday off and most of the jillion religious saint days which are not recognized as non-work days. In fact she usually gets any day off that she requests. I also raise her pay yearly in January by the official inflation rate.
Here in the hinterlands a skilled Albañil makes about $200-250 pesos a day. He pays his laborers $150 pesos. That is for an 8 hour day and for 7 days a week. Minimum wage for domestic employees here runs about $40 pesos an 8 hour day and those employees not being organized usually work 11 hours or so and are glad to get the work. Mexican families can be quite demanding on their maids. It works out at less than $300 pesos a week. She is also on virtual vacation 3 months of the year when I head for more temperate climes. She is supposed to drop by the house, check that everything is in order, do her home laundry with my machines, gas, and electricity if she wants to, and go. She is an honorable person so I guess she is doing that. At least the house has not burnt down or been broken into during my absences.
Now my maid for her part time work receives $450 pesos a week and I am constantly being criticized by my Mexican neighbors for paying her too much. I have tried to circumvent that by sending her to various cooking schools which has helped my digestion a whole lot and I can always say that she is a skilled cook--which she ain't--to justify her high salary.
So circumstances here are certainly different from Cozumel.
Still, let me suggest something that hasn't been suggested yet. Instead of giving her $1000 pesos extra as a special bonus, why not increase her Aguinaldo to three weeks ( another $850 pesos). She should be thrilled with that. After she works another 5 years you could be generous and give her 4 weeks. I wouldn't suggest extra paid vacation time because I find that two weeks without her has me wading through trash.
But don't get carried away and end up with 90 days of aguinaldo plus a year end bonus as some of our legislators get.
(This post was edited by jerezano on Dec 17, 2006, 6:23 PM)