On March 24, 2020, Mexico's Health Ministry issued a Resolution, which institutes mandatory measures aimed at reducing the transmission of COVID-19. Key restrictions in the Resolution are as follows:
- Individuals aged 65 and older, individuals with pre-existing health conditions, pregnant women or in nursing period, and individuals with disabilities must avoid attending workplaces and public spaces. The Resolution indicates that this group of individuals shall be entitled to full salary and benefits during the suspension.
- From March 24, 2020 to April 19, 2020, all activities that require the agglomeration, transit or displacement of people are temporarily suspended. The Resolution allows implementing an operations continuity plan for essential activities.
- Private sector businesses considered to be essential to confront the contingency, such as hospitals, clinics, drugstores, laboratories, medical services, finance, telecommunications, media, hotels, restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, corner shops, transportation and gas distribution services, are permitted to remain open, provided that crowds are not permitted in small or enclosed spaces.
- Large scale events or gatherings of more than 100 individuals are suspended until further notice.
The Resolution states that employment relationships will continue in effect, as governed by the corresponding individual employment agreements, Collective Bargaining Agreements and the Mexican Federal Labor Law.
Although the Resolution sets forth mandatory measures, it stops short of declaring a health emergency. Furthermore, the Resolution does not order a general suspension of work. For these reasons, employers are not subject to the legal requirement established by Articles 427 (VII) and 429 (IV) of the Federal Labor Law to suspend the employment relationship due to a health emergency by only paying one minimum wage for up to 30 days to employees.
Companies that fail to comply with the above measures may be subject to penalties arising in a health or labor law context.
Companies should also follow the recommendations made by Mexico's Labor Ministry on March 20, 2020 in its "Action Guide for Workplaces Against COVID-19". These include ensuring distancing among individuals in work areas, ensuring that management attempts to identify individuals showing symptoms related to COVID-19 at the company's entrance points, instituting quarantine protocols for employees showing symptoms related to COVID-19 and implementing remote working arrangements.
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