Mexico 7 min

How to terminate an employee in Mexico

Written by Amanda Day
Amanda Day


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When things don’t work out, how do you terminate an employee in Mexico?

In our guide on hiring employees in Mexico, we briefly covered employee terminations and severance pay in Mexico. Here, we will take a closer look at requirements for termination, types of contracts, and differences in severance packages.

Do you have to give advance notice to fire someone in Mexico?

Although Mexican labor laws generally favor workers, you do not have to give advance notice to terminate an employee in Mexico. For employees on indefinite contracts, you do have to provide a severance package, though. These packages can be substantial depending on the nature of the termination.

To terminate an employee on a definite or time-limited contract before the original term of the contract ends, you only need to consult the terms of the agreement. These contracts should have specific clauses that outline what to do in the event of an early termination. A decision by Mexico’s Supreme Court outlawed the practice of companies putting employees on multiple definite employment contracts to avoid paying benefits.

If the employee works for a union, your collective bargaining agreement may outline additional restrictions on terminations. Unions in Mexico have the power to act in an employee’s interest even without the cooperation of the employee. Never attempt to operate outside the scope of a collective bargaining agreement, even if the employee harbors no ill will about the termination.

Do you need cause to fire an employee in Mexico?

No. You do not need to point to a specific reason or event to fire an employee in Mexico, provided the employer and employee agree to part ways via mutual agreement. However, employers must tread carefully to avoid paying hefty fines or getting drawn into costly legal battles.

Employees in Mexico who dispute their termination have a right to a fast and transparent hearing. If you choose to fire an employee with cause, make sure you have plenty of documentation to back up that decision. The difference between firing with cause and firing without cause greatly affects severance packages. Poor performance is not an acceptable reason for dismissal in Mexico.

In most cases, termination with cause only occurs for employees who violate workplace policies, become incapacitated, or commit a crime. Companies closing down their operations may also terminate employees with cause. If you choose to fire an employee and claim to have cause, come prepared with consistently documented evidence the employee violated workplace rules.

Does Mexico allow probationary periods of employment?

Technically, Mexico has a minimumof 30-day probationary periods to evaluate employees before bringing them on as full-time workers.

However, 90 days of probation is used as a common standard in Mexico. This is considered a reasonable period of time to evaluate skills and decide whether the employee continues or terminate the contract.

Probation periods can be extended for certain job roles. According to the Federal Labor Law in Mexico (Artículo 39-A)the probationary period can be up to 180 days if employees are engaged as a director or manager. The same applies for people working in administration or specialized professions.

Companies should not treat probationary periods as guaranteed legal immunity, however. The implementation of laws regarding probationary periods in Mexico remains uncertain. If you terminate an employment contract within the first 30 days, be prepared to provide documentation to help you case.

Any employee in Mexico who works for a company for a period lasting longer than one month is considered to be an indefinite employee in the eyes of the law, even without a formalized contract. Indefinite employees are entitled to benefits during employment and severance pay upon termination.

During the probationary period, a company can terminate employment if the employee has demonstrably poor performance or doesn’t have the knowledge required to execute the job properly.

When do benefits end for terminated employees in Mexico?

Benefits for Mexican employees typically end at the time of their termination unless otherwise stated by an employment contract or severance agreement. Because the Mexican government provides healthcare to its citizens, employees do not lose all health coverage after being fired. Public coverage tends to be much poorer than private coverage, however, which is why employers often offer private health insurance to attract top talent in Mexico.

All employees below director level in Mexico are entitled to a share in the company’s profits, capped at 10% for all employees, and a Christmas bonus of at least 15 days’ salary. Employees who have worked long enough to be eligible for benefits receive a portion of benefits such as profit sharing and their Christmas bonus paid out proportionately at the time of dismissal.

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When are employees entitled to severance pay in Mexico?

All employees on indefinite contracts (which covers most full-time employees in Mexico) are entitled to severance pay when they leave. This includes employees who quit on their own, employees who are fired without cause, and employees who are fired with cause.

How much are severance packages in Mexico?

Severance packages in Mexico differ depending on whether an employee quits, is fired with cause, or is fired without cause.

Severance for employees who quit on their own

Employees who voluntarily leave their positions receive severance packages including:

  • Payment for days worked but not yet paid

  • A proportional amount of the Christmas bonus, based on days worked in the year

  • A proportional amount of paid vacation, based on vacation days earned

  • Other payments outlined in the employment contract including bonuses, food vouchers, savings fund contributions, and shares of company profits

Severance for employees fired with cause (Justified Dismissal)

Employees fired with cause typically receive larger severance packages than employees who quit on their own. For this reason, companies terminating employees with cause must be prepared to defend that cause to the Mexican government. These packages include:

  • Payment for days worked but not yet paid

  • A proportional amount of the Christmas bonus, based on days worked in the year

  • A proportional amount of paid vacation, based on vacation days earned

  • Other payments outlined in the employment contract including bonuses, food vouchers, savings fund contributions, and shares of company profits

  • 12 work days’ worth of salary per year worked at the company

Severance for employees fired without cause (Unjustified Dismissal)

Employees fired without cause receive substantial severance pay in Mexico. These packages are typically offered to employees who leave via mutual agreement and include:

  • At least three months’ salary

  • A seniority bonus of 12 work days’ pay per year worked beginning at 15 years of employment, capped at twice the average daily salary in the region

  • Any expired wages, with a limit of 12 months from the date of the notification of termination

  • An additional payment of 20 days’ salary per year worked in cases where employees appeal to the Mexican government for reinstatement but are refused by the company

  • Accrued vacation, proportional Christmas bonus, and proportional profit shares

  • Other payments outlined in the employment contract including bonuses, food vouchers, savings fund contributions, and shares of company profits

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