Sticking to minimum wage coverage is not the right thing to do, but under current circumstances many will seek to do so.
By Germán de la Garza *
Since the declaration of the National Health Council on health emergency, Monday, the debate has not ceased over whether this can be considered as a synonym of contingency, and how this would impact in terms of salary coverage.
So far, we have talked about the assumptions represented by adhering to articles 427 of the Federal Labor Law, but we must not lose sight of art. 42Bis of this Law, where it is indicated that in the event that the competent authorities issue a declaration of health contingency, in accordance with the applicable provisions, which implies the suspension of work, the provisions of article 429, section IV of this law.
There has been no contingency declaration, whereby employers could not adhere to the procedure of paying a minimum wage for each day of contingency duration for up to a maximum of one month. But it is a fact that there are many patrons wanting to proceed in this way to obtain the benefit that this article frames.
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Employers have pledged to cover workers’ wages, but could this be a policy that will continue after April? Sticking to minimum wage coverage is not the right thing to do, but under current circumstances many will seek to do so.
What would I expect? That there be a pronouncement on the part of the labor authority, in the sense of clarifying whether this is indeed the declaratory health contingency or not. On the other hand, a much more forceful declaration by the authorities on business support.
And it is that confusion has been the concept present in this pandemic, in Mexico. There are local decrees such as those of the state of Jalisco and Colima, which establish a series of preventive measures that in principle prevent daily activities from being carried out in many work centers.
So what the bosses say is: “If there is a local decree that prevents mobility, that prevents the provision of a specific service like in shopping malls? What am I going to do with my workers? Can I stick to the benefit of article 42Bis? The answer is no because there is no federal health authority that has determined a state of health contingency, so what can I do?
Hence, all these ideas have emerged as leave without pay, enjoying vacations during this period. The time advances, with it the information deficiencies, and meanwhile the businessmen are seeing that the pandemic is advancing and not a mechanism that protects the bosses, the businessmen, against this situation.
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The pilots union and the flight attendants union, for example, reached an agreement because it is evident that it is one of the most affected sectors, particularly the airline that is the flag of Mexico has already landed 50% of the flights and also they agreed to a decrease during this emergency period.
This happens at the level of organizations that agree on these with the worker, via the unions, but it is not a general issue for businessmen in the country. This confusion must stop: local decrees that prevent mobility, opening of work centers, confusion to foresee the decrease in wages or the reduction of benefits.
Quite a ‘breeding ground’ that will not stop if the authorities do not make accurate declarations in the legal field, but above all, in how organizations face the impact of this pandemic on their pockets and in the fact of having to reorganize their operations to carry out the least possible layoffs.
* Founding partner of the Mowat law firm
The opinions of this article are the responsibility of the author and independent of the editorial line and position of Fortune in Spanish.