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Mexico: Employment Law Basics

Mexico city skyline at dusk.

​Mexico is poised to take on an even greater role in the ongoing global supply chain rearrangement. Companies that are relocating some or all of their production to Mexico need to be aware of what is legally required to hire local staff in Mexico.

This article lays out the basics of Mexican employment law related to hiring employees: what constitutes an employment relationship in Mexico, the types of employees you can hire and the importance of having an appropriate Mexican employment contract with your Mexican employee. The article also describes the basic provisions your Mexico employment agreement should contain.

Mexico's Labor Environment

Mexico's employment laws' main goal is to balance production factors—the economic unit that produces or distributes goods and services—with social justice. Consequently, employees are deemed to be in the same position as the employer and the rights of each bear the same weight, and if they do not, the law will support employees. Always.

Types of Employees in Mexico

Mexico's employment laws do not differentiate between blue-collar and white-collar employees. However, they do make some distinctions as to employee type, such as the following:

  • Employees in positions of trust (empleados de confianza). These are employees who perform general management, inspection, supervision and oversight tasks. The nature of an employee's tasks is what determines their category, not the employee's job title or position.
  • Employees of any nationality who render services outside of Mexico for a Mexican company.
  • Specific categories of employees and employees in specific industries or sectors of the economy, like women; minors; farmers; miners; air, sea or land transportation crews; artists; those working in the tourism industry; doctors; and teachers.

The Employer-Employee Relationship in Mexico

What constitutes an employment relationship in Mexico? Basically, any rendering of personal services to a person who gives instructions and secures services in exchange for payment is deemed to be in an employment relationship. This means that if you have local staff that follow what you say, you are their employer and you are required to give them all the employee benefits mandated under Mexican law. This is true even if no employment contract is signed and even if you pay them in cash.

Mexican law recognizes several types of employment relationships:

  • (i) For a specific task (obra determinada).
  • (ii) On a fixed term (por tiempo determinado).
  • (iii) Seasonal (por temporada).
  • (iv) For an indefinite term (por tiempo indeterminado).

In turn, the employer-employee relationship may be subject to a qualification period (prueba) or initial training (capacitación inicial).

As a general rule, the type of work to be performed by your Mexican employee determines the type of employment relationship you will have with them.

Bear in mind, absent an express agreement to the contrary, the employment relationship is understood to be for an indefinite term.

Basic and Required Terms in an Employment Agreement in Mexico

Your employee's working conditions must be set forth in an employment agreement if there are no applicable collective bargaining agreements. Mexican employment agreements should be executed in at least two copies, one for you and one for your Mexican employee. This employment contract must contain the following minimum requirements:

  • Name, nationality, age, sex, marital status, Unique Population Registry Code (Clave Única de Registro de Población), Federal Taxpayer Registry and address of the employee and the employer.
  • Type of labor relationship and whether the employee is subject to a qualification period.
  • The specific service or services to be rendered by the employee, which shall be determined as precisely as possible.
  • The place or places where the work is to be performed.
  • The duration of the employee's workday.
  • The form and amount of the salary.
  • The day and place of payment of the salary.
  • If and how the employer offers employee training.
  • Other working conditions, such as rest days, holidays and others agreed upon by the employer and the Mexican employee.
  • Designation of beneficiaries for payment of wages and benefits accrued and not collected upon the death of the employee.

Mexico, like most countries, has gotten very good at enforcing its labor and employment laws against foreign companies. Therefore, if you are going to be hiring individuals in Mexico to help your company there, it is essential you do so correctly, because not doing this will invariably cost you a lot in the long term. Again, remember that an employment relationship in Mexico is not dependent on the existence of an employment contract, which is considered the employer's obligation.

Adrián Cisneros Aguilar is an attorney with Harris Bricken in Mexico City and Los Angeles. © 2022 Harris Bricken. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission of Lexology.


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