The federal government will set a minimum wage for domestic workers next month, said National Minimum Wage Commission (Conasami) president Andrés Peñaloza.
Of the more than 2.3 million people who work as domestic employees in Mexico, the commission expects 950,000 will benefit directly from the requirement.
“We cannot ignore that there are 950,000 domestic workers that make less than the minimum wage . . . We are talking about a direct positive impact on the [their] lives . . .”
The commission president suggested that the minimum wage should be a “well-balanced” amount so as not to be so high as to stifle new employment, and at the same time create formal work arrangements that benefit employees.
Suggestions for the minimum wage level range from the current national minimum wage of 102.68 pesos daily (US $5.40) to 300 pesos (US $15.80), proposed by labor unions and other organizations.
“This will be the first step towards settling a historic debt not only with this sector, but with all workers that have lost all purchasing power for decades on end,” Peñaloza said, staking out the commission’s new position on the issue after years of holding down wage increases.
The commission estimates that of the 1.3 million households that employ domestic workers, 67% pay employees more than seven times the national minimum wage.
“These households are paying 250, 300, 500 or even 700 pesos a day. Even with a set minimum wage, there is no reason that they should not continue to pay that amount; what we want is to promote formalization with a contract.”
He added that despite a new labor law recently approved by the Senate that states that domestic employees should not earn less than double the national minimum wage, or 205.38 pesos daily, the final decision on the matter belongs to Conasami according to the constitution.
According to the newspaper El Sol de México, the vast majority of domestic employees are women, more than 98% of whom do not have access to basic health care. Thirty-six percent begin their employment while still minors, and 96% carry out their duties without any formal contract or guarantee of salary or benefits.
Peñaloza was named head of Conasami in December by Labor Secretary Luisa María Alcalde, who said at the time that “change is in the air” for the commission. Peñaloza replaced Basilio González, who had held the post for 27 years.
“We will work together toward a new policy to restore the minimum wage,” Alcalde said.