The pandemic caused by covid-19 has been a brutal but very instructive litmus test that allows companies and workers to realize that teleworking or home office is not damaging but rather productive when taken seriously, which has been in most cases, so the new Official Mexican Standard NOM-037, whose project was recently published, should strengthen teleworking.
On July 15, 2022, the Official Mexican Standard Project PROY-NOM-037-STPS-2022 was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF), which establishes the health and safety conditions in the previous modality and derives from the reform to the Federal Labor Law on teleworking of January 2021. The project has 60 calendar days for it to be published in its final version and from then on, it will have another 180 calendar days for the obligations and conditions it contains to come into effect. legal force, that is, towards the end of the first half of 2023.
The primary objective is the protection of workers, providing them with more significant guarantees, and this implies that employers must be very aware of their new obligations. This is a change in the work culture with budgetary implications for organizations since it also entails inspections by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS) and, eventually, economic sanctions for non-compliance.
Although it is a project, I consider that it should be taken as practically the final version. It is hard when a project is published, it is modified significantly, above all because a year and a half were invested in discussing it by the authorities, private initiatives, and civil society organizations.
The NOM-037 project is the result of a new reality in the country. There were already very detailed studies that solutions had to be analyzed for the problems of road traffic and insecurity, especially in large cities. Before the pandemic, some companies managed, if not the home office, then flexible work hours; For example, Fridays were granted so that staff could continue working from home, especially in intellectual activities that do not require 100% physical presence at the workplace.
The NOM-037 project establishes minimum elements so the teleworker can carry out their tasks in optimal conditions. For example, having an ergonomic chair that guarantees proper body posture; seems like a minor issue, but whoever sits 8 hours a day during the working day can eventually suffer severe illnesses and stress if the chair is not suitable for their work; The project also considers the risks of working at home, the contract rules that guarantee that there is no social isolation and the sense of belonging is lost. Employees will also have the right to disconnect, that is, not to claim from the company that they answer calls outside their working hours, during meal times or days off, etc.
The truth is the pandemic, although very unfortunate due to its disastrous consequences due to the loss of life of millions of individuals in the workplace made it possible to verify that the prevalence of workers take advantage of their time and are productive in this type of work from home.
We must be attentive, then, to the publication of NOM-037 and its entry into force and, of course, to how both the provisions related to teleworking and the rules contained in this NOM-037 end up landing so that, in their case, finish evaluating the impact that this modality of work has on the society and culture of our country.
By Andrés Rodríguez, expert in labor law and social security.
Andrés Rodríguez R.