UPDATE on my gardener costs and situation.
One day a few months ago, while I went to the grocery store to get a few things, the tenants next door witnessed my gardener carrying four large stalks of bananas up my driveway and then selling them to someone in a truck. The gardener knows he is not to take anything off my property without my permission. When I confronted him about it, of course he denied it. But I had witnesses with photos of the theft.
I should have let him go then but I gave him one more chance.
Then about a month later, he just disappeared for a whole month. He did not call to tell me he was leaving. So, I assumed he was not coming back.
I hired a Panamanian garden service who sends two Panamanian guys to work on my yard two days a week. They work from 8 am to 5 pm with a 30 minute lunch break. The cost is $30 a day. But I am hiring a Panamanian company instead of a Ngobe worker. I don't have to fix lunch. Their boss drops them off at the property in the morning and then picks them up in the afternoon after inspecting their work to make sure they did a good job. They give me a written receipt for payment each time.
Yes, it costs more money, but it is MUCH better quality work, too! They get more done in one day than my previous gardener got done in a whole month!
When the Ngobe gardener finally showed up after being gone a month, I told him that I hired someone else to do the yard work because I could not just let the yard go for a whole month in the rainy season.
A week later, the Ngobe worker served me notice to appear before the Labor Board demanding $4,900 severance pay. He lied and told them he had worked for me for 6 years and worked only for me 5-6 days a week.
Because I documented when he worked for me (Thursday and Saturday) and what I paid him and had him sign off on the pay each time, I did not have to pay anything.
No matter who you hire, document everything! It is better to have your worker sign for any money you give them.
Ngobe will often ask for loans. To them a loan is just free money. They have no plans to pay it back. It is better to never lend money because if you do it one time, they will ask for it again and again.