On August 31, 2022, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare issued a regulation changing the Federal Attorney General’s Office for the Defense of Labor (Procuraduría Federal de la Defensa del Trabajo, known as PROFEDET) to focus on mediation, rather than having employers summoned before the agency for mandatory reconciliation with employees, their beneficiaries, and unions. The regulation became effective on September 1, 2022.
PROFEDET is a decentralized entity of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare that aims to protect the rights of employees, employees’ beneficiaries, and unions before the labor authorities.
The regulation includes the following main changes to PROFEDET’s functions.
New Mediation Role
PROFEDET will now assist parties—including employees, employees’ beneficiaries, and/or unions—in order to reach settlements within their individual and collective labor conflicts by means of settlement meetings, based on mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. Once the parties settle upon an agreement, it will be established in a certified record. The conciliation function, for which PROFEDET had been responsible, is now the responsibility of the Labor Conciliation Centers, in accordance with the Reform to the Federal Labor Law of 2019.
Support for Labor Conciliation Centers
PROFEDET will now provide information and guidance to users who approach the Labor Conciliation Centers. PROFEDET personnel will be able to assist employees, their beneficiaries, and/or unions in attending pre-judicial conciliation hearings before the Labor Conciliation Centers, including the execution of legal actions and legal representation by attorneys on behalf of PROFEDET for the benefit of employees, their beneficiaries, and/or unions.
Loss of Enforcement Authority
Previously, PROFEDET had the authority to impose enforcement measures for nonappearance as established in the Federal Labor Law, consisting of a fine that could not exceed one hundred times the general minimum wage in force, or, in the case of employees, a fine that could not exceed the amount of one day’s salary. Under the new regulation, PROFEDET does not have the power to impose fines and/or enforcement measures in the event of nonappearance at settlement meetings, since PROFEDET’s new function is mediating disputes between employers and their employees, employees’ beneficiaries, and/or unions.
Consistency of Criteria Between PROFEDET and Local Labor Defense Attorneys’ Offices
PROFEDET is also charged with promoting and encouraging collaboration and coordination activities with the local labor defense attorneys’ offices in order to standardize criteria in the fulfillment of the responsibilities that the law confers on them. Employers may wish to note that there are forty-seven offices in the interior of the Mexican Republic that provide services free of charge to employees, employees’ beneficiaries, and/or unions.
The new regulations are part of the new labor model that the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare has implemented in recent years pursuant to the Reform to the Federal Labor Law of 2019. PROFEDET’s role as an auxiliary to the new labor procedures is fundamental and will undoubtedly be critical in the final stages of the labor reform process, which is scheduled to become effective on October 3, 2022, and in the states with the highest number of labor claims in the country: Mexico City, Jalisco, and Nuevo León.
The Mexico City office of Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the PROFEDET regulation and will post updates on the firm’s Cross-Border blog as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.