Decree amending and adding various provisions to the General Law to Prevent, Punish, and Eradicate Crimes related to Human Trafficking and to Protect and Assist Victims of these Crimes

Nota publicada el 7 de junio de 2024 en el Diario Oficial de la Federación.

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On June 7, 2024, a Decree was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation modifying various provisions of the General Law to Prevent, Punish, and Eradicate Crimes related to Human Trafficking and to Protect and Assist Victims of these Crimes. Specifically, Article 21 adds section IV, establishing that labor exploitation is considered a crime punishable with 3 to 10 years of prison and fines ranging from $542,850.00 to $5,428,500 pesos. Labor exploitation is defined as: “Working hours beyond what is stipulated by law.”

Additionally, for individuals belonging to indigenous and Afro-Mexican communities, the penalties will be 4 to 12 years in prison and fines ranging from $759,990 to $7,599,900 pesos.

This reform has caused confusion and concern within the business sector regarding its scope and interpretation. It is important to clarify that the definition and regulation of working hours are primarily labor matters, not criminal ones. The Federal Labor Law, as the regulatory law of Article 123 of the Constitution on labor matters, contains these definitions and regulations.

There are several legal working hour scenarios in the Labor Law, not limited to daily shifts of 8, 7.5, and 7 hours depending on whether they are daytime, mixed, or nighttime shifts. The Law also allows for other scenarios that are regulated and evidently legal. For instance, the law permits the extension of working hours under extraordinary circumstances as per Articles 65 and 66 of the Law. Article 59 also allows the employer and the employee to set the duration of the working day and distribute working hours to enable employees to rest on Saturday afternoons or any equivalent arrangement.

Therefore, as long as the rules and criteria derived from the Labor Law are applied, no criminal offense can be established since the legality of the working day is determined by the Federal Labor Law.

This Decree was approved and published in the Official Gazette of the Federation, its transitory article stipulates that it would come into force the day after its publication and is therefore already in effect.

That said, companies should start evaluating their working hours, compensation schemes, and overtime payment to ensure they comply with the Labor Law and thus avoid and prevent any issues with the authorities.

At De la Vega & Martínez Rojas, we are ready to assist and guide you along the way. We would be happy to help you review and analyze your specific and unique situation and needs.

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