On June 12, 2015, Mexico amended the Federal Labor Law (“FLL”), adopting the increase in the legal working age that was enacted through a constitutional amendment in 2014.  (Click here to read our discussion of the 2014 constitutional amendment).  The FLL – the country’s employment law code – codifies the constitutional amendment that increased the legal working age from 14 to 15 years old and from 16 to 18 years old (where applicable).

With the amendment, only individuals who are 15 years old and older can be employed.  Additionally, employees who are under 16 years old must obtain authorization from their parents or legal guardian.  In the absence of a parent or legal guardian, the employee can obtain authorization from his or her union, the Labor Board, the Labor Inspector or the applicable Political Authority.

Employees under 18 years old who have not completed the mandatory basic education cannot be employed, unless they are first approved by the appropriate labor authority.  Among the factors to be considered, the labor authority is required to determine whether the applicant’s work and studies will be compatible.

To protect the health and safety of employees in this age group, as well as foster their development, the amendment to the FLL modified the requirements for minors to render their services inside and outside the family circle. If the labor authorities find that a minor under the age of 15 had been employed outside of his or her family circle, the employer can be subjected to a penalty of one to four years imprisonment and a fine ranging from MXN$17,525.00 to MXN$350,500.00 (currently, approximately USD$1,130.00 to USD$22,600.00). 

Lastly, with the amendments, employees 15 years old and older can join unions and participate in the management of the unions.  Prior to the amendment, these activities were limited to employees older than sixteen years old.

Employers should verify compliance with these new requirements to avoid fines and penalties.