Reform for sanctioning excessive working hours is disproportionate, experts note

Óscar de la Vega, partner at the D&M Abogados Firm, said that “we are once again sanctioning the employer who is inside the formal economy and another incentive to conduct business informally or illegally is generated.”

Note published on June 20, 2024 in eleconomista.com.mx. Companies section by María del Pilar Martínez. Mention: Óscar de la Vega.

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Óscar de la Vega, partner at the D&M Abogados Firm, said that “we are once again sanctioning the employer who is inside the formal economy and another incentive to conduct business informally or illegally is generated.”

He pointed out that while the country’s great problem and challenge is to mitigate illegality and informality in employment, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), informal employment in the first quarter of 2024 is of 54.3 %, “informality should not be above 25%”. The WorldBank has established the premise that upon greater  flexibility of the labor legislations, more formal employment is generated and the more rigid these laws are, more informality is generated.”

Thus, he considered that “our legislators are taking the wrong path, promoting the serious cancer of our economy that is informality, where there are no minimum benefits, protection or security, leaving the people in this sector completely unprotected.”

Germán de la Garza, managing partner at Fisher & Phillips, explained that this reform promotes significant changes in employment relations, which require a precise control of working hours to ensure that this limit is not exceeded and becomes a punishable action.

Luis Manuel Guaida, a labor lawyer, said that “according to these amendments, working hours above the established 48 hours per week, plus the nine hours of overtime established by the Federal Labor Law, or working hours that exceed the established maximum working hours, defined conventionally in the contracts, will be subject to severe sanctions, as they are considered as labor exploitation, regardless of whether the workers are in agreement and that they are paid correctly.”

This new legislation has determined that working hours that involve labor exploitation will be punishable with three to ten years in prison. In addition to fines ranging from 542,850 pesos to 5,428,500 pesos.

Therefore, he said, it is crucial that companies understand that infractions relating to the length of working hours, extending beyond what is permitted, could result in significant economic sanctions, and now in severe criminal consequences. Now, more than ever, it is important the employers have effective systems for the registration of the duration of the daily working hours, as this is the only procedure for accreditation in the event of an inspection or of a labor complaint or suit, the actual duration of the working day, that is, that it does not exceed the limits imposed by the legal legislation that are now heavily sanctioned by this reform.”

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