Mexico Adds Excess Work Shifts to Trafficking Law

( – On June 7, Mexico’s government published an amendment to Article 21 of their Human Trafficking Law.

Among the various crimes that fall under the law’s purview they have added overtime work beyond the legal limits, which will now be considered a form of labor exploitation. The law is meant to protect vulnerable people such as women, the elderly, physically disabled people and people with mental health conditions that impact their ability to form judgment. The amendment went into effect on June 8.

Dangerous or unhealthy working conditions, salary below legal levels, and working over the legal maximums were already included under the law’s definition for labor exploitation. In Mexico the legal limit for a standard workweek is 48 hours per week and 8 hours per day. Night shifts have a limit of 42 hours a week or 7.5 hours per day. While negotiations often include overtime hours every week, the amendment puts in place limits and requirements for overtime. Violation of the Human Trafficking Law limits can incur penalties including fines or prison.

The new amendment does include ways to have workers work overtime hours above the daily limits but not over the weekly limits. Also, overtime hours must be paid at double the usual rate. If the overtime hours do exceed the maximum allowance of nine hours per week, those hours need to be paid triple the regular rate and the employers may still face consequences. The fines and prison sentences they face are higher if the exploited individuals are indigenous and Afro-Mexican people

Minimum wage in Mexico lags behind other Latin American countries like Ecuador and Costa Rica but is better than others such as Columbia or Brazil. It can be difficult to survive on those wages, and employers have historically found it easy to exploit their workers. However, the new amendment now expands the definition of the ways in which employees are exploited. As there is now a very real possibility that employers may be found criminal liable in cases of illegal overtime, this may lead to dramatic changes in Mexican workplaces.

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