Working conditions

Working hours, holidays and salaries in Mexico

Working conditions

Working conditions and salaries in Mexico might be quite different from what you are used to in your home country. Be aware that cliché of “lazy Mexicans” does not apply to a modern Mexican work environment and many jobs are very demanding.

Salaries in Mexico

Salaries in Mexico are usually a lot lower than in Western European countries or the US, although there are some exceptions for highly qualified positions. In general the lower your qualification is, the wider the salary gap will be compared to industrialised countries, with unqualified jobs often paying a mere survival salary.

Of course your salary expectations will very much depend on your qualifications, the business sector you work in, the area in which you are looking for work (salaries in Mexico City are a lot higher than in the countryside), and your position and role within the company. The following salary ranges can therefore only give you a rough impression of salaries in Mexico City (in smaller towns and villages salaries can be a lot lower):

  • Unqualified workers (minimum salary): US$ 300-500/month (though this can be less)
  • University graduates: US$ 1,000-2,000/month
  • Mid level business positions (3-10 years of experience): US$ 1,500-3,000/month
  • Directorial positions: US$3,000-10,000
  • Executive positions (VP- or President level): US$10,000 and more

In some cases you can get a ‘foreigner bonus’ if you have international experience or any other impressive qualification, which can double your salary compared to the average. Highly specialised positions are sometimes paid as well as (in some cases even better than) in industrialised countries, especially in senior management or executive roles in large companies. Many people in the latter categories sell their expertise as independent consultants, often working for foreign-based companies.

Salaries in Mexico are usually paid in Quincenas, which means every 15 days, though some companies are starting to pay monthly. Many salaries are still paid by cheque, though salary payments by bank transfer are starting to become more common like in other countries.

The Aguinaldo

According to Mexican law employees (not including independent contractors) are entitled to a yearly bonus known as an Aguinaldo. Companies are required to pay a minimum Aguinaldo each year, but many companies pay out a higher Aguinaldo than required. In most cases the Aguinaldo amounts to four weeks’ pay, in some (mostly larger) companies up to six weeks. The bonus is normally paid in December for Christmas and New Year expenses. Companies who pay six weeks usually pay four weeks in December and another two weeks in summer.

Other Bonuses

In addition to the Aguinaldo you may be entitled to other bonuses as well. Sales positions in Mexico are often paid with a very low base salary, with the vast majority of income being provided by sales commissions or bonuses that are awarded upon reaching a quota. Management positions also often have high variable payments which depend on meeting business targets.

Working Hours in Mexico

Working hours in Mexico are not regulated by law and thus depend on your job and the company you are working for. Most office job hours run from 8am to 6pm, although the working hours of Mexico’s middle class are now becoming longer and often go until 7pm or later. If you are working in tourism you can expect to work weekends, public holidays and late hours.

Lunch breaks in Mexico are longer than in most other countries, ranging from one hour for normal workers to three-hour work lunches for executives. In general the “Siesta-taking” Mexican is becoming more and more of a cliché and most modern work environments are now very similar to those of other Western countries.

Holidays in Mexico

The image of a relaxing Mexican work life is quickly brought to an end by Mexican holiday regulations. According to Mexican Law, you are entitled to one week (5 weekdays) of paid holiday leave after a year of working at a company. However, as many companies insist on employees working a three-month trial period, in actual fact, you may have to wait fifteen months before being able to take a holiday. For every year you work at the same company, this amount rises up to a maximum of 20 days per year.

Some companies, especially larger corporations, offer more generous leave entitlements (though others stick to the letter of the law). In some cases you will also receive some ‘personal days’ in addition to your annual leave, i.e. for family issues, special events at your child’s school or for personal emergencies. You are also entitled to all of Mexico’s public holidays, though in some jobs (eg in tourism) you may be asked to work these days and get other days off instead.

Pensions and Insurance

Many Mexican companies, especially medium sized and larger ones, provide their employees with a personal pension plan, usually through a scheme known in Mexico as an ARORE. Under an ARORE scheme you can contribute a certain amount of your salary to a pension plan, with your company and the Mexican government adding to your contributions. ARORE pension products are administered by all Mexican banks which invest the contributions in approved stocks and investment funds. You can change your administering bank within certain limits and time-scales set by the law.

Some companies also offer their employees a private insurance scheme as part of their employment package. Although you may be entitled to the public Mexican Social Security System (IMSS), private insurance is generally preferred as it covers more expensive treatments.

Further reading

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Other comments

  • Delta Valadez, 08 December 2009 Reply

    Some corrections about the job situation in Mexico

    It´s not accurate what you read in the article about lunch breaks. It depends on the company and it´s rarely more than 1 hour. In some companies they give a 30 minute lunch break.

    Work hours vary depending on the company. In some you check in at 7 and some at 8, end of work day time?? that varies quite a lot depending on the company. Some at 5:30 pm, some at 6, some at 7 and some even at 8 pm.

    In MANY companies they ask you to work half day on Saturday. Normally there are no coffee breaks or smoke breaks.

    If you work at retail, tourism, call centers, telemarketing forget about holidays, weekends early end of work day.

    About vacations. By law you are intitled to have ONE WEEK of vacations in your first year. The subsequent years you add one day per year. The only difference is for teachers. You go by the school year. You´ll have christmas vacations (3 weeks), "holy week" (2 or one week deoending on school) and 2 months in summer.

    About salaries. It´s not completely accurate to say that Unqualified workes get a $300-$500 salary. Some times a person with a university degree can be paid that amount. It depends on THE JOB not that much on qualification.

  • Edgar Santillan, 27 March 2010 Reply


    In my opinion, the information presented here can be really uselful for people form other countries looking for a job in Mexico.
    There are just two things that I would check. The time companies give you as an employee to have a breake varies depending on the company and the activities you are suppoused to do during the day. Also if you work as a freelance there is not an specific time for you to have something to eat or to have a rest.
    Another thing to correct is the name of the pension plan, which is "AFORE", which means "Administradora de Fondos para el Retiro" (the translation would be Pension Plan Retirement System).