Labor alert – Mexico: Covid-19

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus infection, also known as “Covid-19”, a global pandemic.

Even though the Federal Government has not issued a Declaration of Sanitary Contingency (“Contingency”), said Contingency would result in: (i) the total or partial suspension of work, and (ii) the employers paying their employees a general minimum salary in force for each day during the suspension of work instead of their ordinary wages, without exceeding thirty days.

In view of the coronavirus infection, hereunder we share a general guide of preventive measures to avoid the risks of contagion and to mitigate the risks to employers at the workplace, as well as the actions that may need to be taken in the event that the Contingency is issued and critical points to consider.

Grant early vacations to the employees, subject to a prior written agreement with the employees. Grant leave of absence to the employees, with or without payment of salary, subject to a prior written agreement with the employees. Promote work from home (“home office”), considering the activities of each employee, subject to a prior written agreement with the employees. Comply with the regulations established in the Federal Labor Law, the Federal Regulation of Safety and Health at Work, and the Official Mexican Norms. Supervise that there is continued and effective communication between the Human Resources Department with the employees. Publicize and promote the required hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the virus and keep employees updated on the evolution of the situation. For employers who hire transportation for their personnel and cafeteria services, require the services providers to sanitize their equipment before the services are provided to the employees. Prepare and have in place a health contingency plan for the workplace. Communicate to employees that anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 must notify the employer, stay at home and contact the Epidemiological and Health Intelligence Unit telephone number to receive further instructions. Restrict travel, visits, meetings, and in general the attendance to massive non-essential events, especially to countries or places affected by Covid-19, in order to prevent employees from contagion. From a legal perspective, any employee who decides to stay at home without the consent of the employer because they consider that they may present a risk of contagion does not have the right to collect a salary.
Total or partial suspension of work. In this event, employees are not obliged to appear at their workplace. Employers are required to pay the employees the general minimum salary in force at the time that the suspension is ordered. Payment will have to be made during the time that the suspension lasts, up to thirty days. Employers will not be required to pay the regular daily salary. Employers are required to pay the regular salary and to maintain the labor conditions to employees who are pregnant, lactating and minors. Until work is resumed, the employer is obligated to keep the employees informed of this process. Once the Contingency is over, the employees must resume their work. Employees shall submit to the medical examinations that are required by the employer.
The reduction of salary or unpaid leave, the exchange of breaks for work hours, and any modification in the work shift, and in general, of any working condition, could be considered illegal even when there is an agreement with the employee. In view of this, legal alternatives and the manner in which the changes to the working conditions are implemented should be carefully analyzed. Failure by the employers to comply with the regulations applicable in these events, established in the Federal Labor Law, the Federal Regulation on Occupational Safety and Health, and the Mexican Official Standards, may generate fines of up to 5000 Units of Measurement and Updating, as well as individual or collective termination lawsuits initiated by employees, which will generate high economic implications to the employer.

For specific questions, please contact us.

Leobardo Tenorio-Malof   |
Héctor Torres-López   |
Alejandro Pedrín   |
Mauricio Tortolero   |
Daniel Gancz-Kahan   |
Alejandro Ceballos   |
Raúl Escamilla-Sanromán   |

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