A national health emergency due to Covid-19 is declared, what are the implications of this in the labor arena?

After the meeting of the General Health Council, the Mexican Government, headed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, announced a series of measures to face the health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a press conference, Jorge Alcocer Varela, head of the Department of Health, asked the public not to be overcome by fear. The country has the necessary supplies and personnel to deal with the contingency.

Hugo López-Gatell, undersecretary of prevention and the promotion of health, ordered that the suspension of activities be extended until April 30.

A health emergency is declared

López Gatell clarified that the health emergency due to force majeure does not imply a State of emergency. «The declaration allows better coordination between the public agencies», he pointed out.

He invited the public and private sectors to join the prevention efforts with the objective of avoiding undergoing the worst scenario, like those countries that did not reduce the number of contagions within the first days of transmission.
«There is, at least in Mexico City, a reduction of 60% of the mobility, but it needs to be reduced even further ».

Hugo López-Gatell, undersecretary of prevention and the promotion of health.

Will salaries be limited?

«Can workers’ salaries be limited and compensation provided, in line with the provisions of an article of the LFT [Federal Labor Law]? », a reporter asked Ebrard.

«No, as explained by the Department of Labor. This is a declaration of health emergency due to force majeure; in this case the legal provision does not allow the application of the article», answered the secretary.

Nevertheless, the Federal Labor Law (LFT) provides for and regulates the temporary suspension of activities and its probable consequences.

Can employment relationships be suspended temporarily?

According to Article 427, Section Seven, the health contingency is one of the causes for the temporary suspension of employment relationships.

Ricardo Martínez Rojas, founding partner of the De la Vega & Martínez Rojas Firm, explains that in the case of this suspension being declared due to force majeure (as provided for in Section One of the abovementioned Article 427) due to the pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus, particularly in companies that have a union:

«The company, together with the workers, must justify the existence of force majeure during the period of time in question.

The suspension can be extended as long as necessary, as long as the force majeure cause continues to be justified and in the presence of a signed agreement between the company and the union».

Once the declaration of the health contingency has been made, the employer – as provided for in Article 429 – will not require approval by the Conciliation and Arbitration Boards and the company will have the obligation of paying its workers a compensation equivalent to one day of the general minimum wage in force for each day of suspension, for a period of time not to exceed one month.”

Note published in Mejores Empleos, in the Artículos [Articles] Section by the Editorial Department