Globalization, technology developments, and the world's economy, among other factors, have changed our day-to-day dynamics and have transformed the way we work. This means that employees must deal with emotions and circumstances that in the past were not significant but today are studied and classified by scientists as "psychosocial risks."
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) define psychosocial risks as the interactions within the work environment, content of the work, conditions of the organization and capacities, needs and culture of the employee, and personal considerations—external from work—based on perceptions and experience that can negatively influence health, performance at work, and labor satisfaction.
International organizations are trying to create a broad awareness of psychosocial risks and thereby prevent such risks from damaging employee health, both physical and psychological.
Mexico's Regulation of Psychosocial Risks at Work
Mexico has taken a big step in the protection of employees with the amendment to the Federal Labor Law on November 30, 2012. This amendment incorporates into the law the concept of "decent and dignified work," which encompasses respect for the human dignity of employees and, in consequence, the prevention of harm that employees may suffer because of the activities they perform at work.
The amendment and subsequent obligations agreed upon by the current federal government in its national development plan, as well as internationally, compelled the Mexican Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare to issue the Federal Regulation of Health and Safety at Work. Its goal is to establish health and safety provisions, which must be observed at the workplace, "in order to have the conditions to prevent risks, and as a consequence, guarantee employees their right to perform their activities in an environment that assures their lives and health, according to the Federal Labor Law."
What to Expect in 2019 and 2020: The Psychosocial Risk Factors Standard
Based on the above and with the purpose of complying with current legislation, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare developed the Official Mexican Norm: NOM-035-STPS-2018 "Psychosocial Risk Factors at Work – Identification, Analysis and Prevention." Its main objective is to "identify, analyze and prevent psychosocial risk factors, as well as to promote a favorable organizational environment at workplaces."
Though the rule has been valid since October 23, 2018, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare will not review employers' compliance with the rule until the October 2019 or October 2020, depending on the employer's size. Since this matter requires specialist analysis and evaluation, employers may want to contact a specialist on psychosocial risks in order to achieve compliance.
The following are employers' main obligations under the rule:
- Establish, maintain, and disseminate among the employees a psychosocial risks prevention policy
- Identify psychosocial risk factors and evaluate the organizational environment (applicable to work places with more than 50 employees)
- Use questionnaires to identify psychosocial risk factors (applicable to work places with 16–50 employees)
- Disseminate to employees the policy and measures adopted to reduce psychosocial risks
- Identify the employees subject to psychosocial damages while working or derived from their work
- Provide a registry where employees can learn about psychosocial risk factors and corrective actions taken
- Maintain a confidential complaint system so the employees can inform the employer about psychosocial risk factors
- Take actions to prevent psychosocial risk factors and corrective measures if psychosocial damage occurs
Ana Paula Delsol Espada is an associate in the Mexico City office of Ogletree Deakins.
Natalia Merino is a law clerk in the Mexico City office of Ogletree Deakins.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.