The mandatory national minimum wage is approximately Gs. 1.8 million ($327) per month. According to a study in 2015 conducted by the General Directorate for Statistics (DGEEC) and the Economic and Social Development Planning Secretariat, the average per capita monthly income was approximately Gs. 1,934,166 ($351). Per the same report, the poverty income level varied from Gs. 396,266 ($72) per month in rural areas to Gs. 643,606 ($117) per month in metropolitan Asuncion, and the extreme poverty income level ranged from Gs. 268,794 ($49) per month in rural areas to Gs. 378,520 ($69) per month in metropolitan Asuncion.
By law, domestic workers must receive 60 percent of the minimum wage (Gs.1,094,433, or $198), and housing and food count toward a domestic worker’s salary. The law stipulates that domestic employees work a maximum of eight hours per day, are entitled to overtime if they exceed these hours, and have the right to enjoy a weekly rest of 36 hours, as well as all national holidays paid. The law provides for a standard legal workweek of 48 hours (42 hours for night work) with one and one-half days of rest. The law also mandates payment of at least one annual bonus of one month’s salary and a minimum of 12 days’ and a maximum of 30 days’ vacation per year, depending on total years of service. There are no prohibitions of, or exceptions for, excessive compulsory overtime.
Per the Labor Ministry and NGOs, many domestic workers suffered discrimination, routinely worked 12-hour workdays, were not paid for overtime work, were allowed to rest less than the minimum time allowed by law, were not entitled to publicly provided retirement benefits, and did not routinely attain job stability after 10 years, unlike other workers covered by the labor code. Domestic workers were eligible for government-sponsored medical care and retirement programs through small payroll and employer contributions.
The government sets appropriate occupational health and safety standards stipulating conditions of safety, hygiene, and comfort. Although these standards were current and appropriate for light-manufacturing and construction industries, enforcement was inadequate.
The Labor Ministry did not effectively enforce provisions for overtime pay, the minimum wage, or limitations on hours of work in the formal or the informal sector. It launched public awareness campaigns, however, aimed at employers to remind them of their labor obligations.
As of September 9, the Labor Ministry’s Department of Mediation of Private Conflicts received 5,571 labor complaints and mediation requests. Men filed the majority of these complaints, which involved illegal dismissals or the failure of employers to pay the legally mandated end-of-year bonuses. DGEEC estimated the percentage of workers who received the minimum wage or more, increased from 71.1 percent in 2015 to 73.7 percent in the second semester of 2016. Many formal and informal employers violated provisions requiring overtime pay, particularly in the food and agricultural sectors and for domestic services. From January to September 31, the Labor Ministry received 100 complaints of occupational safety and health violations, some associated with workplace accidents or fatalities. Most workplace accidents or fatalities occurred in the construction and light-manufacturing industries.
On February 23, the Attorney General’s Office charged and ordered the arrest of Gustavo Perez Codas, owner of a leather-tanning factory in San Antonio, for the death of two workers who died in a workplace accident. The case was pending at year’s end.
Employers are obligated to register workers with the Labor Ministry. As of September 30, however, approximately 2,157 employers had registered a total of 7,091 workers with the Labor Ministry, a low number compared to the country’s population of approximately 6.6 million. The UN Development Program’s 2013 Human Development and Social Security study concluded 81.3 percent of the labor force (2,371,000) worked in informal jobs and did not receive labor law protections.
Paraguay considers the informal economy to be any economic activities performed by persons not registered under the laws governing tax, employment, and social security. In some cases, workers received a formal salary, of which they and their employers paid social security tax, and an additional, undeclared salary. Some businesses were formally registered to operate and pay taxes, but they did not register or declare their entire staff to the employment authorities.