Mexican Social Security Law

Did you know that IMSS is Mexico’s version of Medicare and “workman’s comp” insurance?

IMSS is the federally-funded and federally-required version of workman’s compensation insurance in the United States and other similar workers’ protections found worldwide. The program is completely inclusive and covers a wide range of issues an employee, male or female, may encounter in the workplace during their lifetime.

IMSS primarily focuses on the health and human services side of a worker’s needs. The benefits cover a plethora of areas, such as workplace accidents, pregnancy leave, deliveries of the unborn, lost wages due to illness, medicine, medical rehab, the third stage of life care (elder care) and advanced cancer care.

The IMSS program also attends to child welfare and illness, as well as childcare for working parents. IMSS is the single greatest reason for the substantial drop in child mortality rates in the last decades.

When an employee has been enrolled in the IMSS program, they are protected from the gross overcharging by private-practice medicine in Mexico and the debilitating effects one can suffer from not attending medical issues in a timely fashion.

IMSS insurance coverage also covers dental and mental health.

Beyond the obvious reasons one would want to ensure that their staff members were enrolled and up to date with dues, why else would we want to ensure our employees—who often become friends and like family—to be covered?

We, the employer, are completely responsible financially for our staff, from the time they leave their home (on a workday) to the time they arrive home after their shift. Meaning any accident on their way to work, at the place of work, or on their way home is the employer’s financial responsibility when the staff member does not have IMSS coverage.

There have been cases where personal liability has been considered up to US$100,000 per individual in the home regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time employees. And, there have been cases where one’s personal assets have been taken and awarded to staff members as compensation.

IMSS is an integral part of our cultural perspective on health protection, i.e., health care, and is treated as such with steep fines and Federal punishment for those who do not enroll their staff members.

It is always the employer’s responsibility financially in the eyes of the Federal government to have every employee, be they part-time or full-time staff, wanting or not wanting, to be enrolled in the program. The IMSS program is not optional.

The Mexican Social Security law, currently in effect, published in the Official Journal of the Federation, is the legislative domain under which the IMSS carries out its operations.

Currently, the law indicates that Social Security has the following purposes:

  • Medical assistance
  • Protection of basic necessities of subsistence
  • Social services necessary for individual and collective well-being
  • Giving out a pension which, depending on the completion of the legal prerequisites, will be guaranteed by the State

The law contemplates two domains: an “obligatory” one (funded by individual, employer, and state contributions), and a “voluntary” one (aimed at workers in household industries and self-employed professionals).

The following items are excluded from the base quoted salary:

  • Tools of trade, such as tools and clothing
  • Savings deposits, when they are made up of a weekly, biweekly, or monthly deposit equally from the worker and the employer
  • Additional voluntary contributions
  • Contributions to INFONAVIT
  • Food and lodging when they are given in an onerous manner
  • Payments in coin or cash
  • Rewards for attendance and punctuality

Overtime, within limits established by law At the end of the day, this is a protection we, the employer, want for our staff. It is insurance that protects our patrimony from accidents and is a financial safeguard that can be extremely useful and necessary to have.

While it is an extremely important part of our daily living costs in Mexico, I have seen, unfortunately, that bureaucracy and the endless paperwork needed to enroll staff has created lapses in coverage or enrollment.

If you need help with registration, information about government costs, coverage and upkeep, such as making monthly payments, please feel free to contact me directly.

Best regards,


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