Flexibility in the working day to attend to children’s education is proposed

Note published in El Economista, Empresas [Companies] Section by María del Pilar Martínez.
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Workers will not have the obligation of making up working hours used for this end, specifies the bill.

The House of Representatives sent a memorandum with the Draft Decree to the Senate of the Republic for the reform of Article 59 of the Federal Labor Law (LFT), with the objective of making the working day more flexible for working fathers and mothers who must provide support to their daughters and sons in their educational development.

The representatives voted in favor of adding the following paragraph to the abovementioned Article: The Department of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS) will implement actions to promote flexibility in the working day in order to facilitate the participation of parents or tutors in the educational and development activities of their daughters, sons or wards. Workers will not have the obligation of making up the hours of the working day used for this purpose, as long as they accredit their participation with the school authorities.

The document signed by the president of the House of Representatives, PRI party member Dulce María Sauri Riancho, is being analyzed by the senators, who will , within the next weeks, provide their resolution in regard to the proposal that has the objective of strengthening remote education at the basic education level in the country.

The Draft Decree establishes two transitory [articles] one of them states that within a maximum term of six months from its entry into force, the Ministry of Public Education (SEP) and the Department of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS), each within the scope of their respective competences, will issue the necessary regulatory provisions for compliance therewith.

It should be noted that the decision was voted upon in the plenary session of the House of Representatives of October 15 of this year, with 338 votes in favor, in general; representative Roberto Antonio Rubio Montejo (PVEM), stated that “arising from the health emergency, attention to the educational process has become fundamental; but there have been limitations due to the established working hours, he explained.”

However, Ricardo Martínez Rojas, labor law specialist at the D&M Firm, explained that “Mexico requires competitiveness, that the working day is worked in full and, therefore, a Norm, as it is intended to be approved, is totally lacking in clarity, it cannot be left to be ruled upon by the administrative authority.”

He maintained that this proposal could lead to widespread abuse and absenteeism which should not have to be paid for by the employer, even if the motive is justified. “In any case, it should have been added as one of the causes for the suspension of the employment relationship. It will also create numerous conflicts between workers and employers.”

For his part, labor specialist Alejandro Avilés, stated that, in the way in which the decree is drafted, “it highlights that the implementation of actions to promote flexibility in the working day is the responsibility of the STPS, an addition that is ambiguous and unclear since, without yet knowing the regulatory provisions, it does not appear to be binding for employers.” In this sense, he added that there is talk of making the working day more flexible, “but not of granting leave during the working day, it does not establish, either, that the employer has the obligation of paying salaries for this motive, particularly since the flexibilization of the working hours does not mean in any way that the working hours are reduced; additionally, the objective of this flexibility is that of allowing parents or tutors to participate in educational and development activities of their children, being unclear as to which type of activities.”

Since March, companies have undertaken various actions for coping with the pandemic; among these, granting leaves to those who fall in the category of people that are vulnerable to contagion of Covid-19; the modality of working from home was even implemented, but this was not done to provide support to parents with young children at the basic education level.