What Is Driving Mexico’s Push for More Guaranteed Vacation Days?
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What Is Driving Mexico’s Push for More Guaranteed Vacation Days?

Photo by:   Ricardo Rodarte
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By Ricardo Rodarte - OCC Mundial


Among all member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Mexico guarantees the fewest number of vacation days for its labor force. This fact has long been known but as mental health has become a critical topic for society, there has been growing interest in expanding vacation time for Mexican workers.

Prior to the pandemic, the growing focus on psycho-social health in the workplace led Mexico's Labor and Social Welfare Ministry to issue Mexican Official Standard No. 35, which provides organizations a foundation for detecting psycho-social risk factors among their employees. 

This emphasis on psycho-social health became evident in the years leading up to the pandemic, as companies made personal well-being a focal point of their overall business strategies. 

Considering these shifts in focus, the interest in changing the law to ensure adequate vacation time for workers is not surprising, since time off work allows employees to disconnect from work, rest and renew their energy to ensure best performance on the job when they return. 

We all know that the number of legal vacation days in Mexico is deficient and that is why many organizations provide holiday time beyond the period prescribed by law. With this in mind, we strongly support the effort to guarantee more vacation days to workers starting in their first year on the job.

This change will bring many benefits for Mexican workers, but I would like to focus on just two of these positive outcomes. Firstly, more vacation time has a positive impact on the overall well-being of workers, considering the high stress that most people face on the job, particularly in our post-pandemic world upended by substantial changes in how we work that have led companies and employees to value and prioritize the mental and physical health of workers. 

Providing more vacation days to employees also boosts job satisfaction, which reduces talent turnover and motivates workers to do their best work on the job. 

More time to disconnect from work reduces worker burnout, which the World Health Organization recognized as an occupational hazard in January 2022, as the pandemic exacerbated and brought to light many of the mental health issues that workers faced at work while they also made personal well-being on the job a priority. 

As we reduce worker burnout and the accompanying exhaustion that it causes team members, we also reduce the likelihood that our people will leave our organizations, as has happened during the so-called Great Resignation. Another point to consider is that younger generations tend to work fewer years at their companies, which curbs the amount of seniority they accumulate and ultimately reduces their likelihood of receiving adequate vacation time. 

Expanding vacation time for workers has become a key topic of interest for OCCMundial and, to this end, we have conducted studies to gauge how employees and companies perceive the topics of worker well-being and vacation time, as these issues have become a top priority in the majority of companies.

This past October, we worked with GDV Group and Grupo Azimuth to conduct a study, The Great Burnout: Resignation in Mexico, which aimed to measure worker burnout levels and potential mass resignations in Mexico resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, from the perspective of employers and employees alike. One key finding of the study is that 4 out of 10 employees would consider quitting during the next six months and another 23 percent would consider resigning over the next year. The reasons for these potential resignations include elevated levels of burnout and mental health challenges and employee perception of being overworked. 

In the study, companies claimed that employee resignations have increased by 15 percent for the year (23 percent in some types of companies) compared to quit rates prior to the pandemic. 

In view of the legislative bill to increase the number of guaranteed vacation days in Mexico, in November we conducted a survey among 2,600 workers to gauge their perception of the bill. Nine  out of 10 of those surveyed were aware of the bill. Among those surveyed, 98 percent would like to have more vacation days and 85 percent of these respondents believe that such a change is possible in companies. 

When asked how companies would be able to increase the number of vacation days for their employees, the five strategies that the surveyed workers said companies could follow are related to better organization, target-based work, better use of technology, effective leadership, and more efficient assignment of activities. 

According to the results of the study, the main benefits of more vacation days would be an increase in worker happiness and health, enhanced operational productivity, enhanced ability to attract and retain the best talent, reduced employee turnover and overall increased competitiveness of the organization.

Of the 9 percent of respondents who said that companies would not be able to provide more vacation days, the reasons they mentioned were the unwillingness of companies to actually provide the time off, lack of personnel, excess work for employees, ambiguity in work assigned to workers and lastly, the increased budget that companies would need to provide more vacation days.  

The financial implications of providing more vacation days is indeed a key issue for companies, particularly small and midsize organizations, as they have less capacity to pay the vacation premiums that would be required under the reform. This is why a number of organizations, including the Business Coordinating Council (CCE), have acknowledged the benefits of increasing employee vacation days but have asked that the increase be implemented gradually, particularly for smaller companies. They propose that vacation days be increased from six to nine days in 2023 and from nine to 12 days in 2024.

We expect Mexico's Chamber of Deputies to pass the bill before the end of the year and that Mexican workers will soon have the right to adequate vacation time. Increasing the number of guaranteed vacation days in Mexico is not just a matter of simply providing more rest to workers: it is a critical step forward to creating a healthier society by ensuring that companies have happier employees whose well-being is a priority and who are more productive.

Photo by:   Ricardo Rodarte

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