Mexico’s Femicide Movement and the March 9 National Stoppage: Guidance for Employers
Recently Mexico has been facing a considerable and seemingly uncontrollable increase in femicide cases. In 2019, more than 3,825 women were killed, and the rate of femicide in Mexico increased by 6 percent from 2018. Currently, 10 to 15 women are killed every day, presumably due to their gender. An analysis conducted by the national institute of statistics and geography—the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI)— established that over 50 percent of Mexican women have suffered violence because of their gender.
The Mexican government has not offered potential reasons, proactive plans or processes, or solutions in connection with the continuing increase in femicide. Moreover, as evidenced by the claims of nongovernmental organizations and journalists, most of the individuals involved in crimes involving femicide have enjoyed relative impunity. The government’s lack of legal action and empathy has made citizens disinterested in the issue as well.
Propelled by social non-profit organizations, on March 9, 2020, a “National Stoppage” will take place. During the stoppage, women will refrain from going out, working, attending schools or universities, shopping, among other activities. The main purpose of the stoppage is to create awareness of the value that women—who represent 52 percent of the national population—bring to the country from an economic, labor, and operating standpoint.
Guidance for Employers
Under the Mexican Federal Labor Law (FLL), the employment relationship may be suspended under certain circumstances. When employment is suspended, employers are not required to pay salaries, and employees are not required to render services. However, the FLL does not cover national movements or protests, such as the one planned for March 9. Thus, there is no legal requirement to consider the National Stoppage a day off for purposes of the FLL.
Given the upcoming work stoppage and the requirements of the FLL, employers have the following options:
Provide this day to female employees as a paid day off.
Offer female employees the day off as a vacation or personal day (for employers that officer vacation and personal time off to employees);
Provide the day to female employees as an absence without pay. Note that this absence would be considered a “justified absence” and would not compute to other unjustified absences in order to terminate the relationship with legal cause;
If the above options are not feasible, the employer may communicate its business justifications for failing to offer time off to female employees and provide employees different avenues to show their support for the movement, such as permitting employees to wear purple (which is the National Stoppage color), permitting employees to wear a black mourning ribbon, or offering training to employees on discrimination or others appropriate topics.