Mexico City (March 25 2020).- The decree through which the Federal Government announced a plan to endeavor to curb the spread of Covid-19 created confusion among employers and labor lawyers, given that the scope of the measures to be taken and the sectors involved are unclear.
The Business Coordinating Council (CCE) sent the Federal Government a series of questions to clarify the steps to be followed during Phase 2 of the emergency.
“We have a lack of clarity on the labor implications of this decree, which intends to temporarily suspend activities in the public and private sectors.
“For example, the case of private transportation of personnel to production plants and factories, which must continue to be provided, but presents the problem of having people gathered closely in a bus. This is the type of thing that requires clarification”, pointed out Carlos Salazar, president of the CCE.
Additionally, the decree included a list of the industries that are considered to be strategic for facing Covid-19.
But there are other industries that are not mentioned, and they are equally important, stated Salazar.
“The decree states that strategic industries must continue operating during the crisis. This subsection includes a list, but the list does not include sectors such as food and beverage. We believe that these sectors are strategic and believe that the list should not be limiting. We have to ensure that supply chains are not broken and we are requesting that all industries that are important to the supply chain continue operating”, he stated.
On the other hand, labor law Firms came to mixed conclusions in regard to the decree.
For example, the De la Vega & Martínez Rojas Firm warned, in accordance to their interpretation, that employment relationships mustn’t be terminated.
But a temporary suspension is called for and, therefore, there are grounds for the companies to suspend the labor relationship and pay their workers one day of minimum wage per day, for up to a month, as compensation.
Nevertheless, companies may reach agreements with workers or unions to obtain payment modalities above the one defined by Law.
For his part, Germán de la Garza, of the Mowat Firm, expressed the opinion that the provisions of the Decree lack clarity and are ambiguous in many cases in regard to the specific obligations of the companies.
“It has no provisions that address possible support and/or supervision measures to be taken by the authorities, nor possible penalizations in the event of any alleged non-compliance.
“This ambiguity obviously derives from the acknowledged policy by the Federal Government of avoiding, for the time being, the decree of health contingency, thinking of the economic impact on the workforce”, he stated.