Social Security Issue Delays Mexico’s Planned Labor Reform for Delivery App Workers

The Labor Ministry will send an initiative to Congress for a reform that can be applied to all the platforms operating in the country, such as Uber, Didi and Rappi

Medio millón de trabajadores y trabajadoras se emplean en las plataformas digitales, de acuerdo con STPS.
December 05, 2022 | 07:53 PM

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Mexico City — Mexico’s Congress has postponed the discussion of the proposed labor reform for digital platforms operating in the country, such as Uber, DiDi and Rappi, which aims to recognize their workers as employees, due to the complexity of determining the scheme through which they will be incorporated into social security coverage.

Manuel Baldenebro, president of the Labor and Social Welfare Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, and Manuel Fuentes, advisor to the collectives Ni Un Repartidor Menos (which translates as ‘Not One Deliverer Less’) and Nosotrxs, confirmed to Bloomberg Línea that it will not be until the next ordinary period of sessions, which begins in February 2023, when the reform will be discussed.

Mexico’s Labor Minister Luisa María Alcalde told Bloomberg Línea on September 29 that the labor reform for digital platforms would be sent in October, however, the ministry then decided to give itself more time to receive additional proposals and polish the government’s initiative.

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The original reform proposal aims to regularize and recognize the labor relationship of half a million workers employed on digital platforms, for which a special chapter would be created in the federal labor law.

Baldenebro said that the way in which the social security of platform workers is the sticking point, although Congress has had dialogue with the parties involved and there is progress in the analysis of how to do so.

“We are waiting for an opinion from the government and we are listening to everyone’s voices. We should make this reform for the benefit of the worker (...) and it is necessary to legislate so that there is a true labor relationship,” Baldenebro said.

He pointed out that the fact that workers in the gig economy are recognized as employees would give them the right to social security benefits. However, he said that what is being requested of the digital platform companies is feasible

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Manuel Fuentes indicated that there is a desire within the government and some sectors to build an ideal law that would recognize the rights of digital platform workers in an integral way, but that there is no compliance infrastructure, and not all companies involved would respond in the same way to their obligations as employers.

There is also a proposal for workers at digital platforms to obtain social security benefits and cover their occupational risks within the the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS).

In this second scenario, there may be workers who do not have social security because some may be working once a week or only a few hours, however, when there is an accident, there must be liabilities.

“There were those two currents or lines of work that finally caused a postponement,” Fuentes said.

Fuentes said the IMSS needs to be modernized in order to be able to respond to a reform that seeks to respect the flexibility of workers to provide their services for more than one platform and that make social security contributions proportional to the time worked in each application.

He said that, if a person works two hours a day, there must be a contribution that is recognized by the IMSS.

“It is about making the law operational and it seems to me that this is the main problem for digital platform workers, and for which they are demanding a solution.”