Federal labour law states that it is the employer’s obligation to comply with regulations on health and safety in the workplace, and that the conditions under which risk prevention is guaranteed is laid out in the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Regulation. Additionally, workers’ rights enable employees to develop and grow in a healthy and safe environment. There are 43 official standards on health and safety that specifically regulate the different scenarios that may represent a risk or threat to employees during working hours. Furthermore, employers are subject to labour inspections in order to verify they are in full compliance.
With the aim of establishing the necessary conditions to promote dignified and decent work, ordered by the Article 2 of the Federal Labour Law, the Official Mexican Standard NOM-035-STPS-2018 focuses on psychosocial risk factors in working environments. Its main goal is to establish the criteria to identify, analyse and prevent psychosocial risk factors from occurring, as well as promote a favourable workplace.
These psychosocial risk factors often occur during the course of labour activities, and can have significant physiological and mental repercussions, such as induce anxiety and stress disorders. The new regulations specifies that these factors can be brought on by harmful and unsafe conditions in the work environment, and as such every workplace must not only comply with the regulations but also assess compliance with each of the specifications to ensure that risks and incidents resulting in physical or mental issues are prevented.
This norm falls under the country’s broader goal of aligning national regulations concerning employment with International Labour Organisation standards, and implementing measures to tackle the types of sicknesses caused by psychosocial risk factors in today’s social and working environments.
The NOM-035-STPS-2018 will go into force in two phases over the course of as many years. The first will be after publication in the Federal Official Gazette in October 2019, with the second phase and full implementation following in October 2020. In addition to establishing a psychosocial risk factors prevention policy, employers will first have to conduct an assessment on the general status of their employees in the event of a traumatic incident, one that is described as “experienced during working hours or caused by work activity, resulting in death or representing a real danger to the physical integrity of one or more individuals, and that can cause post-traumatic stress disorder in the person who experiences it or witnesses it”.
In the second phase employers must identify the psychosocial risk factors. Workplaces with over 50 employees must also undergo an assessment of the organisational environment, which will be rated favourably when a sense of belonging is promoted; suitable training programs are in place; specific responsibilities and tasks for employees are set and defined; proactive participation and communication with employees is enhanced; and workload distribution is balanced with regular working hours in accordance with the Federal Labour Law. Furthermore, in this phase if there are signs or symptoms of health or behavioural issues among employees, employers must provide medical check-ups and psychological assessments to those exposed to labour violence and specified psychosocial risk factors.
Employers will need to consult medical professionals during this process as the identification of psychosocial risk factors requires specialised knowledge. Data protection and confidentiality for employees will also be mandatory. The main purpose of this norm is to create a culture of psychosocial risks factors prevention, which will help to boost companies’ productivity and competitiveness.