After a successful interview in Argentina, some investigation is required before taking a new job offer. As a foreigner, it’s important to nail down the details related to visa status, work responsibilities and pay so that an employer does not take advantage of you.
Legal: ‘En Negro,’ ‘En Blanco,’ or ‘En Gris’
Most foreigners in Argentina are hired under the table or en negro and are not granted a work visa. Instead, they must renew their tourist visa every 90 days by leaving the country and then reentering or, overstaying their tourist visa (not recommended, see this page) and paying a fine when leaving the country. Those working en negro are paid in cash. This route is technically illegal, but since an estimated 50% of the country works in the informal sector, it is common.
A lucky few — especially those working for multi-national corporations or information technology firms — are hired legally, or en blanco. In this case, the company will most likely sponsor a work visa. Those working en blanco are usually paid by check or direct deposit to an Argentine bank account.
Some foreigners are hired under partially legal terms described as en gris. Those working en gris are normally sponsored for a work visa, but paid partially in check and partially in cash. This is done so that the employer can evade taxes.
Regardless of one’s visa status, upon accepting a job it is important to establish whether obtaining a legal work visa is possible.
Most foreigners in Argentina work under the table. Use the current minimum wage as a marker to gage what kind of compensation to expect. The 2012 minimum wage is AR$ 2,300 per month – about US$522 USD based on April 2012 exchange rates. College graduates with special skills, or a few years experience in their field, should expect a full-time starting wage of at least AR$4,000 per month.
Nailing Down the Job Details
From the information exchanged in the initial interview, one should already know a great deal about the general responsibilities, pay, and legal status of the position. The perfect moment to discuss the items in detail with a potential employer is after being offered a job, but before agreeing to take it.
Upon receiving a job offer, contact the potential employer and request a meeting or phone conversation to further discuss the particulars of the position.
Remember that being hired for a job is a business agreement and expectations come from both sides. Too often, employees enthusiastically accept a position without fully understanding the finer details. This can lead to miscommunication, a clash of culturally-influenced paradigms, disappointment and could even open the door to exploitation.
In your follow-up meeting don’t be afraid to ask questions to help you evaluate if the position is a good fit. Those who have been offered a fully legal job in Argentina should take notes in the meeting and then make sure the job contract covers all details. If the contract is in Spanish legalese and you do not fully understand it, request to have it translated.
Those who are considering an ‘under the table’ job should put all the details in writing, and then send them to the employer for confirmation. This written exchange functions as a de facto contract and can serve to clarify the terms of what is otherwise a very informal agreement.
Remember that employment agreements must be fair for both parties, whether the position is legal or not. In the eventuality that there is a dispute, having everything clearly spelled out on paper beforehand can help.
First-world immigrants working in Argentina must be their own labor rights advocates — do the best you can to protect yourself.
Job Duties Checklist:
• Spell out the responsibilities
-Nature of the work
– Hours, including lunch and breaks
-Number of days
-Are they paid?
-Hourly or monthly wage?
– In what currency will you be paid?
*Note — pay is usually in pesos, unless the company is international
-Method of payment
-Cash, check or direct deposit?
-If paid by check, will the company help you to open a local bank account?
-What is the potential for growth within the company?
-Frequency of raises (remember inflation is sky high in Argentina)
• Legality of the Position
-Will the employer sponsor a work visa?
-If not, does the company cover the price of a renewed tourist visa or transport for border crossing?
-Are days or hours spent renewing the visa paid?