MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s Labor Department issued new rules Friday requiring employers to pay for internet and provide ergonomic chairs for employees working from home.
The new rules also mandate a “right to disconnect” for employees who work at least 40% of their time from remote locations. Remote workers often complain that, because they are constantly reachable at home, they are also constantly asked to work.
Mexico, like many other countries, saw a big increase in remote working during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021. While office space occupancy is inching back up, remote work seems to be a trend that has caught on.
The trend is so pronounced that some office buildings on bustling downtown boulevards are being converted into apartments, hospitals and stores.
The Labor Department said bosses are responsible for paying for the electricity, printers and other equipment used when working at home. According to the new rules, if an employee’s home isn’t safe, well-lit and well-ventilated, they can’t be forced to work there.
Inspectors can visit a worker’s home, or employees may be asked to take pictures of their home, to prove that it meets labor requirements.
Remote workers cannot be paid less than those who go to an office, and they must have set work hours.
According to the commercial real estate firm Newmark, Mexico City’s office market has shown slight signs of recovery since the pandemic. In a first-quarter 2023 research report, it said the city’s office vacancy rate had declined to 23.4%, from 24.5% one year ago.
As in many parts of the world, some employers have adopted a “mixed” or hybrid model in which workers come into the office only part of the week. The new rules apply only to those who work remotely at least 40% of the week.