Mexico Work Week And Overtime Laws

The work week in Mexico is usually 48 hours, but that varies according to the employee’s shift. Mexico’s overtime laws kick in if an employee exceeds the legal maximum. Lately, there’s been a lot of pressure on lawmakers to create Mexico’s 40-hour work week. We will discuss everything in this article.

The work week in Mexico varies according to the shift an employee undertakes. According to the workday or shift, there is a maximum weekly limit according to Mexico’s overtime laws. So, let’s get to it.

A Legal Overview Of Mexico’s Work Week

Overtime Laws In Mexico’s Constitution

First, let us analyze what the Mexican Constitution says about overtime laws in Mexico. Article 123 of the Mexican Constitution, from the Title on Labor and Social Security, is long. After all, all of the employment laws in Mexico stem from this one article.

But let us analyze the essential parts related to the work week in Mexico.

Article 123 of the Mexican Constitution, Fraction A. 

  1. The maximum working day shall be eight hours.
  2. The maximum night work day shall be 7 hours. […]
  3. […]
  4. For every six days of work, the employee shall enjoy at least one day of rest.

If you read our blog, you may already know that the Mexican Constitution and the international treaties Mexico enters into are at the top of the legal hierarchy. However, we have the Mexican Federal Labor Law to further these legal precepts.

But first, let’s analyze Mexico’s work week and overtime law from an international perspective.

Mexico’s Work Week In An International Context

Mexico has been a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) since the 1950s. This organization promotes social justice and labor rights. As we stated earlier, the international treaties Mexico enters into are at the top of the legal hierarchy. Mexico’s work week is very much aligned with the conventions of the ILO, a maximum of eight hours a day and 48 hours per week.

However, the ILO also has a 40-hour week convention. Even though Mexico has not ratified this yet, lawmakers have been pressured to create Mexico’s 40-hour work week. This would have a profound effect on Mexico’s overtime laws.

Mexico’s Work Week In The LFT

The chapter On Labor Conditions of the Mexican Federal Labor Law discusses the workday for Mexican employees. It is not a long chapter; it has ten articles, 58 to 68. This chapter will be the focus of this article. So, let’s get to it.

According to the LFT provisions, a workday is when the worker is at the employer’s disposal to do his work. Simple enough. This is taken almost verbatim from Article 58 of the LFT

The employer and employee should agree upon the workday length and clearly state it in the labor contract. It should not exceed the legal maximum.

However, to analyze the workday duration, it is essential to classify them according to the assumptions established by the LFT, summarized as follows.

Labor Shifts In Mexico

Article 60 of the LFT defines a day shift, night shift, and mixed shift, and Article 61 of the LFT provides the maximum hours allowed for each shift.

Day Shift Work Week In Mexico

The most common type of workday is the daytime shift, which occurs between 6:00 am and 8:00 pm.

  • The daily maximum duration for a day shift is eight hours.
  • Mexico’s work week for day shifts is 48 hours.

Night Shift Work Week In Mexico

If an employee works a night shift, they have a different maximum. The night shift is between 8:00 pm and 6:00 am.

  • The daily maximum duration for a night shift is seven hours.
  • Mexico’s work week for the night shift is 42 hours.

Mixed Shift Work Week In Mexico

Some shifts don’t fall precisely in the last two categories. Therefore, there is a mixed shift. A mixed shift includes hours of the day and night shifts. But there is a catch: the night period must be less than three and a half hours. If the part of the night shift is three and a half hours or more, we will consider it a night shift.

  • The daily maximum duration for a night shift is seven and a half hours.
  • Mexico’s work week for the night shift is 45 hours.

Summary Of Mexico’s Work Weeks And Overtime Laws

A summary of Mexico's work week and Mexico's overtime laws.

Continuity Of Shifts

Continuous Shift

A continuous shift is a regular type of shift. The employee is at the employer’s disposal from the beginning of the workday until the end; think of 9 to 5 (although, as we just saw, it can be a night shift or mixed, too). Since the employee has the right to a half-hour break, during which they are at the employer’s disposal. These 30 minutes of rest are part of the working day. So, strictly speaking, employees work seven and a half hours daily.

Discontinuous Shift

A discontinuous shift is, for example, if you want your employees to work eight hours a day but would like them to do it from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. The only way to do this is to give your employee a significant break of at least an hour. It’s essential that, during this hour,

they will not be at the employer’s disposal. For example, you should not text them on WhatsApp if they are working from home during this break. This is their own free time.

To summarize, for a workday to be regarded as a discontinuous shift, it must:

  1. Have a break of at least one hour.
  2. That break must be uninterrupted.
  3. You cannot divide the break, e.g., by two-half hours.
  4. The worker is not at the employer’s disposal during the break.

Other Types Of Shifts

There are some less common types of shifts.

Emergency Shift

This is uncommon, but you still need to consider it. Emergency shifts are working hours when the worker works in the event of an accident or imminent risk that endangers his life, that of his coworkers or the employer, or the very existence of the company or source of work. In these cases, employers may extend the workday for the time necessary to avoid the dangers.

Since an emergency is an unfortunate event outside the employer’s control, any hours worked exceeding the legal limits during an emergency will receive standard pay, just like any other hours.

Reduced Shift

The law mandates reduced working hours for specific groups. One such group is minors under 16 years of age. This group’s shift may not exceed six hours and must be divided into maximum periods of three hours. Between the different periods of the workday, minors must have breaks of at least one hour.

However, you can also agree to reduced working hours for your employees. Think of someone working part-time. Labor matters and contributions to social security in Mexico treat these shifts differently.

Overtime Laws In Mexico

You must pay overtime if one of the previous shifts exceeds the legal maximum. So, what are overtime laws in Mexico?

  • Extra hours should be consented to; workers are not obligated to render their services for longer than what is allowed by law.
  • Overtime should not exceed three hours per day.
  • An employee should not have more than three overtime workdays per week.
  • The employer must pay double for overtime hours within the limits allowed by the LFT. Article 67 of the LFT states this. As we just saw, this is nine hours per week.
  • If the employee works more than nine overtime hours per week, they will be entitled to be paid triple for those hours.

It is essential to point out that even though Article 68 of the LFT forces employers to pay triple salary for overtime hours above three hours a day or more than three times per week (nine extra hours per week in total), this does not exempt them from violating labor law when doing so.

Now, some companies draft Mexican labor agreements stating that the workday for their employees is 10 hours or whatever amount they consider. However, overtime laws in Mexico are clear in this regard. Article 5 of the LFT clearly states any written agreement that stipulates a longer workday does not produce any legal effects. Let’s take a look at the vital part of it.

Article 5 of the LFT, Fraction II. The provisions of this Law are of public order and therefore, the stipulation that it establishes shall not produce legal effect, nor shall it prevent the enjoyment and exercise of rights, whether written or verbal:

  1. […]
  2. A longer working day than the one allowed by this Law;

Overtime In Mexico As A Criminal Offense

In June 2024, lawmakers amended the General Law to Prevent and Eradicate Human Trafficking. Some of their additions relate to the Mexican work week and overtime laws. Essentially, they made overtime a criminal offense related to human trafficking.

The critical part is Article 21, so let’s look at what it says.

Article 21 of the GLPEHT. Shall be punished with 3 to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 to 50,000 days, whoever exploits one or more persons for labour exploitation. Labour exploitation exists when a person obtains, directly or indirectly, an unjustifiable economic or other unjustifiable benefit, economic or otherwise, in an unlawful manner, through the work of others, by subjecting the person to practices that person to practices that violate his or her dignity, such as:

  1. Hazardous or unhealthy conditions, without the necessary protections in accordance with labour legislation or existing standards for the
    labour legislation or existing standards for the development of an activity or industry;
  2. Existence of a manifest disproportion between the amount of work performed and the payment for it, or
  3. Wages below what is legally established.
  4. Working hours in excess of those stipulated by law.

Now, the critical part is to understand how much the legal maximum is. Since you are reading this article, it should be easy for you to stay out of jail. Honestly, I think this is a little exaggerated, and there still has not been a case of an employer going to jail for asking workers to work overtime. Also, it makes the potential Mexican 40-hour work week even harder. 

Mexico’s 40-hour work week

As we can see, Mexico’s regular work week is 48 hours. However, bill initiatives in Congress have advocated for a 40-hour week. In December 2023, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) recommended lawmakers consider a 40-hour week for Mexican workers. However, the bill was not passed until the writing of this article. Mexico’s 40-hour week would imply reforming the Constitution, and this is not an easy thing to do. Moreover, the 40-hour week in Mexico would completely change Mexico’s overtime laws.

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