[COLUMN] Arturo on worker’s social security and nopal thorns

» Arturo on the law is a weekly column written by Raul Ramirez Riba with usual misconceptions on Mexican Law. Arturo was the driver of a client of Raul. He always claimed to "know" how to solve any issue, specially legal ones. The opinions given in this column come with no guarantee that Mexican or foreign authorities will concur with them. Specific cases should always be reviewed by a hired attorney. 

— Jefe, don’t put your workers on Social Security, nobody in Mexico does it.

Arturo was right, in Mexico is rare that people (specially foreigners) put their workers on social security. It’s a sad situation, because the Institute of Social Security of Mexico (IMSS) is very good, but is over saturated and under funded. Yet for big operations and health issues, is probably the best service available in Mexico, even better than private hospitals.

This story starts with a ranch worker of sorts. He didn’t do too much, just walked around supervising the feeding of the animals and some other usual ranch tasks. He was paid weekly, in cash and with no social security.

Not only did his boss couldn’t deduct the salary of this worker from his taxes, but not having a legal and formal labour relationship also implied several labour law liabilities (which are not the topic of this post, but still, are important to mention).

Anyway, several years after this worker got hired, while walking back home from work, he stepped on a very large nopal thorn. He barely could get back into a sitting position and when he looked closely into his foot, he could see the thorn had gone through from the palm into the instep of the foot.

The worker did what any rancher would have done, he took it out himself and went to his home. Next day, his foot was too big to fit in his shoe, so he put some ice and took a day off. Next day, his foot was black and smelled like living flesh is not supposed to smell. A few days later and after barely escaping death, he had lost half of his foot.

Mexican Federal Labour Law specifies what a foot is worth for compensation purposes, about $7’000 US dollars. But because this worker was not enrolled on social security on IMSS, the employer was forced by law to pay for the medical bills (over $50’000 US dollars of liability) and fines from IMSS for not enrolling his worker in due time (about another $30’000 USD dollars).

Enrolling such worker on IMSS would not only have saved him from all this liability on the event of a work accident, but it would have also saved the employer thousands of dollars a year in taxes. And this would only have costed the employer a few hundred dollars in setup fees and a few more hundred dollars a year in Social Security fees.

The lesson is simple. It doesn’t matter if Arturo believes nobody enrolls their workers on IMSS, it’s still is the best option to save some money on taxes and eliminate unneeded labour liabilities.

We offer a streamlined service for enrolling workers into IMSS, don’t hesitate to check it out in our services section.

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