We will scrupulously monitor the authorized reopening of companies: STPS

The extraordinary operation of labor inspections will remain active, it will now focus on verifying that the reopening of work centers is conducted using the appropriate measures.

The Department of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS) reiterated that they will closely follow the process of reopening companies, with scrupulous and random inspections to verify that the process is conducted in compliance with the measures required by federal authorities.

“What’s next? What comes next is that the Department of Labor will closely follow the reopening process, scrupulously and randomly monitoring that companies that will begin to open gradually, as authorized by the health authority, do so with unrestricted adherence to regulations”, stated Alejandro Salafranca Vázquez, head of the Unit for Dignity in Labor of the STPS.

The official explained that, as the process of economic reactivation after the coronavirus (Covid-19) health emergency progresses, inspections will shift focus, from supervising that non-essential companies are closed, to inspections that help to verify that essential companies reopening their doors comply with federal provisions.

“In the following 20 days, month and a half, we will be moving more toward inspections on safety and health matters in the work of essential companies. What we have done in the past two months is focusing on ensuring that non-essential companies close”, he explained within the framework of the The new model of labor inspection webinar.

The Departments of Economy and Labor issued the Technical Guidelines for Health Safety in the Labor Environment this Monday; these guidelines establish the actions that must be implemented by companies belonging to the automotive, mining and construction industries, which have been considered essential, in order to reopen their work centers.

Alejandro Salafranca recalled that workers can place anonymous denouncements if they believe that companies are failing to comply with the proper safety and hygiene measures. All that is required is to explain the inconsistency perceived by the employee and to provide the address of the work center, the official pointed out. Denouncements can be made by email at inspeccionfederal@stps.gob.mx.

“We pay a visit to the company and verify whether the denouncement is founded or not. There are times when the denouncement, additionally, is like the tip of the iceberg, we go in search of one thing that was denounced and we find 20 others. There are other cases in which the denouncement is dismissed. That is, the denouncement was unfounded”, he explained.

Important progress

Alejandro Salafranca Vázquez recalled that the Department of Labor started an extraordinary inspection operation – which continues to be active – to verify that non-essential companies are closed, while essential companies comply with the work safety and health measures established in current regulations as well as with those issued by the health authorities. The STPS conducted close to 4,000 such verification inspections between April and May.

The majority of non-essential companies has complied with the temporary closure and a low percentage of them have resisted suspending activities. In this regard, the official pointed out that between 5 and 7% of businesses proved their essential activity in order to continue in operation. But 10% of non-essential businesses, which in spite of the request refused to close their doors, were denounced before the health authorities – who have the power to close them down – and even before the Public Prosecutor, when the inspection was completely prevented from being carried out.

“We have learned about the necessity to visit companies through various channels, the first one has been through denouncements. Thousands of denouncements in this regard have been received from workers, unions, companies, businessmen, citizens, neighbors who denounce that a non-essential company continues in operation or that an essential company is not complying with the safety measures on this area”, he pointed out.

Inspections and the employer’s obligation

Adrián Castillo, an associate at the De la Vega & Martínez Rojas Law Firm, explained that extraordinary inspections do not require prior notice and they are conducted at the very moment that the inspector arrives at the work center. In this regard, he specified that companies cannot refuse to be subjected to the inspection mechanism, but they do have the right to tape the process and to verify, for safety purposes, that the inspectors are accredited by the Department of Labor.

The labor lawyer explained that the re-opening of a business that was closed down for not complying with the orders issued by the health authorities is a complicated process, as the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk (Cofepris) is in charge of closing the business down. Additionally, given the suspension of administrative activities, it is nearly impossible for the company to defend itself in regard to its being closed down.

“That is why it is so important not to get closed down, to have everything in order so that you cannot be closed down. Because, if they do close you down, it is impossible, at this time, to have access to the legal means to open, this is why it is so important not to get closed down. If you are not essential, our advice is: close without waiting being told to. Labor authorities are being very flexible in this regard; if they see that you are not essential, they will ask you, very kindly, to close operations” he explained within the framework of the virtual workshop Effective handling of labor inspections within the framework of the health contingency, organized by the Mexican Association for Human Resources (Amedirh).

Note published in Factor Capital Humano, Leyes y Gobierno [Laws and Government] Section by Gerardo Hernández