Hiring in Mexico

A word of warning about hiring in Mexico.

First, you should know that under the new labor laws, household help, such as nannies, cooks, maids, and gardeners are now protected under the labor law. When you hire them, you must report it to the labor board, as well as to sign them up and pay for social security. This is for part-time, such as one day a week, for several days a week, or full-time employment. The law cannot be circumvented by a private contract between you and the worker. Many household workers are becoming aware of the law and are negotiating their services to include the social security and other benefits.

While the government sets a minimum wage of $88.36 pesos per day, the pay for workers is by the week. For most workers, the week is six days, for 48 hours a week. Sunday is included in the pay, but it is a required “day of rest.” This makes the minimum weekly pay $618.52 pesos per week or approximately $2,659.64 pesos per month. However, you should not think that you are going to be able to find anyone to work for that amount.

Absences From Work

The bad news for employers is that if an employee wants to take a day off, they can do so with or without permission, and they can take two days off per week, plus Sunday, without fault. The employers must pay them the same weekly amount. Granted the law states that the employee can only have three unexcused absences a week before the employer can dismiss them with fault. However, the employee knows this and will never take three unexcused absences a week.

I have friends who run small restaurants who have cooks and servers not show up for work one or two days a week. The employer must hire someone at the last minute to replace the absent employee or be forced to either pay another person to fill in, for double the cost of the absent employee or shut the restaurant down for the day.

The Worker Scam

There are corrupt attornies in Mexico who have couples working for them who get jobs working as a maid and gardener for someone who is wealthy. The couple goes to work for a few days and then stop coming to work.

The attorney calls the employer up and says that it is against the law to dismiss someone without just cause. The employer explains that he did not dismiss them – they did not show up for work. The attorney explains that the employer did not report the absence to the labor board and thus he is still on the hook for their salary unless he can find fault for firing them.

But, the attorney explains that he has some good news in that the couple are willing to accept $30,000 pesos to let the case drop. And, for another $10,000 pesos the attorney will help the employer do the paperwork for the proper dismissal. And, yes, I have had friends that have been through this experience and paid the lawyer.

Worker Appeals

The other problem is that there are only a few reasons why you can dismiss an employee with just cause. Even then, the employee can appeal any dismissal with the labor board, and the employer must keep paying the employee’s salary until the labor board has dismissed the appeal. The sad news is that because of the huge backlog of appeals, the case will normally take two to three years to get settled, and the employee must keep making the payments to the employee.

The bottom line is that Mexico is pro-worker, and the labor board will find every reason to agree with the worker if at all possible. Be very careful who you hire and how you follow the laws. It is highly advisable that you utilize the services of an honest and trustworthy labor attorney in helping you with the employment.

About G. William Hood

G. William Hood is a writer, fine arts painter, educator and world traveler. He lives in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
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