"Think twice" campaign helps migrants in Chorerra to recognize false offers and fake news. Our trainings and activities help them identify the risks of human trafficking for labor exploitation.


Watch out for signs of labor exploitation!

IT'S NOT RIGHT! There are many practices in labor relations that are seen as "normal" by the migrant population and employers, but are not legal. All migrants have rights and obligations, regardless of their immigration and labor status in the country.

Keep in mind that:
Ilustración: Dos personas trabajadoras
If you are engaged in domestic work or any other type of activity, your employer may NOT ask for your documents in exchange for housing or simply because he/she is your boss.
If you are hired for professional services, they cannot make you work a working day.
If you are fired, the employer must pay your benefits.
You are entitled to the minimum wage at all times!

What I should know if I work in Panama

Do you know how many hours you must work daily if you work during the day or at night? What do you know about your rest time and days off? Here we tell you what the Panamanian labor law says about it and what you may be interested in! Click here for more info.

  • The daily workday is 8 hours and the weekly workday is 48 hours maximum.
  • Regarding the minimum wage in Panama, the rates are set by hour, region, economic activity, occupation and size of the companies. For more information, please visit the following link: https://www.mitradel.gob.pa/el-salario-minimo-en-panama
  • The maximum night shift is 7 hours and the respective work week, up to 42 hours if you work at night.
  • The maximum duration of the mixed workday (i.e. some hours during the day and others at night) is seven and a half hours (7:30h), and of the corresponding workweek, up to 45 hours.
  • Daytime overtime is paid at 25% of salary, while nighttime overtime is paid at 50%.
  • Vacation: 30 days are granted for every eleven continuous months of work. In other words, one day for every eleven days in the service of an employer as agreed between the employer and the employee.
  • Weekly rest day is mandatory.
  • You are entitled to rest time when you are working.
  • Your rest periods cannot be less than half an hour.
  • When you work a mixed or night shift, it is necessary to negotiate with your employer your rest periods in a way that does not affect the performance of your duties.
Contact information for the Ministry of Labor of Panama

What you should know about special contracts:

If you work in domestic, agricultural or commercial labor, the Panamanian Labor Code includes these occupations within the category of "special contracts". See what the Labor Code says from article 230 and following:

Domestic workers:

  • The contract may be verbal or written. However, we encourage you to seek a written contract to back you up.
  • Domestic work is not subject to a timetable, but your absolute rest hours are from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • You are entitled to your weekly rest day and paid annual leave.
  • The domestic servant is entitled to paid rest during national holidays or national mourning days.
  • In a contract of domestic service, the first two weeks will be considered as a trial period and either party may terminate it at will.
  • Once the trial period has expired, the party wishing to terminate the contract must give the other party thirty days' notice, which may be given verbally. Again, we encourage you to always seek written notice.
  • You are entitled to severance pay if your employer decides to terminate your contract.
  • It is the employer's right to ask you for a health certificate. You can obtain it free of charge from doctors in the service of the Social Security Fund, or any doctor from any other state institution.
  • The minimum monthly salary for domestic workers is B/.315.00 for region 1 and B/.290.00 for region 2 (Article 4 of Executive Decree N°74 of 2021).

Field workers:

If you are engaged in regular agricultural, livestock or forestry work for one or more employers, read more here:

  • Employers must pay wages at the place where the workers render their services and in periods of time not exceeding a fortnight;
  • If you are a permanent farm worker and must live on the site where you work, it is the duty of the employer to provide you and your dependents with living quarters, or a place to live.
  • In both cases the rooms shall be free of charge, adequate and hygienic.

Agents, commerce salespersons and similar workers:

  • Commercial agents, traveling salespersons, sales promoters, sales drivers and promoters, collectors and other similar persons are employees of the company to which they render their services.

What I should know if I am fired

It is important to remember that the employer has the right to terminate an employment relationship. However, consider the following in case you are fired. Click here.

  • The notice must be given to you in written form (except in special cases) and this document must clearly state the date and the reasons for your dismissal so that your employer cannot later claim "more reasons". This is found in article 224 of the Panamanian Labor Code.
  • Upon termination of any contract for an indefinite period of time, regardless of the cause of termination, the worker will be entitled to receive a seniority bonus from his employer.
  • How do you know how much you are entitled to?
Time worked Payment
Less than 1 year One week for every three months of work, and in no case will the indemnity be less than one week's salary.
1 to 2 years One week's salary for every two months of work.
2 to 5 years Three months' salary.
5 to 10 years Four months' salary.

You can go to the Ministry of Labor for help in calculating your benefits.

In case you are the one who makes the decision, remember that Panamanian law indicates that you must also notify your boss in writing and 15 days in advance.

Regularization mechanisms in Panama

If you are a migrant in Panama and wish to regularize your migratory status, consider the following information

Ordinary migratory procedures of the Decree Law n°3 That creates the National Migration Service, the migratory career and dictates other dispositions:

  • Migrants in an irregular condition may regularize their migratory status before the National Immigration Service, as long as a migratory option is viable and they comply with the mandatory migratory requirements and cancel their fines for irregular entry and/or stay.
  • The ordinary migratory procedures contemplated in the Decree of Law No. 3, allow migrants who are in Panama to have access to work permits, stays, temporary and permanent residences.
  • However, it should be considered that none of them explicitly mentions that those who are in irregular migratory conditions may have access to them. Despite this lack of clarity in the regulations, civil society has pointed out that people in an irregular situation have managed to regularize their status through this route, as long as they pay the fines for irregular entry and/or stay, in addition to the requirements demanded.

A comprehensive campaign... beyond information!

Following the methodology of Communication for Development, "Piénsalo 2 veces" focuses on working together with the communities in actions such as:

  • Informative workshops and fairs.
  • Capacity building processes with migrants on labor rights, mechanisms to identify and denounce labor exploitation and migration regularization processes.
  • Specialized course on communication and migration for journalists and communicators from the public and private sector.
  • Community outreach activities.
Fotografía: Cuatro personas jóvenes posan para vistendo camisas de la campaña Piénsalo 2 Veces
Fotografía: Una mujer participa en la pintura de un mural al aire libre.
Fotografía: Tres personas ofrecen información en un stand de la campaña Piénsalo 2 Veces.


A campaign by IOM Panamá