The Brazilian Labor Inspection is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to 1891, when it was established by Decree no. 1313, which regulated the inspection of factories where children and adolescents worked, and stipulated the conditions of health and safety in these environments.
Since then, the Brazilian Labor Inspection has evolved, seeking the balance between workers and employers, so that the exercise of work is done in safe, healthy, dignified and decent conditions, fostering the sustainable development of companies and preserving the future prosperity of the country, as stated in the preamble of Decree no 1313.
History of the Brazilian Labor Inspection
The Brazilian Labor Inspection was inspired by the British Factory Acts, which were the first laws to regulate the working conditions of industrial workers, especially children, in the 19th century. The first inspector of factories in Brazil was Dr. José Cândido de Souza, who was appointed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Commerce and Public Works in 1891.
The Brazilian Labor Inspection underwent several changes throughout the 20th century, following the social and economic transformations of the country. Some of the milestones of its history are:
- The creation of the Ministry of Labor, Industry and Commerce in 1930, which centralized the labor inspection under its authority.
- The enactment of the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT) in 1943, which unified and systematized the labor legislation and defined the powers and duties of the labor inspectors.
- The ratification of the ILO Convention n. 81 in 1958, which established the main criteria for the labor inspection, such as the independence, impartiality, professionalism and cooperation of the labor inspectors.
- The promulgation of the Federal Constitution of 1988, which qualified the dignity of the human person, the social value of work and the free enterprise as the foundations of the Brazilian State, and recognized the right to work, among other rights applicable to workers, as fundamental rights.
- The creation of the Secretariat of Labor Inspection (SIT) in 1994, which is responsible for organizing, coordinating, evaluating and controlling the activities of auditing and auxiliary inspection of work, as well as elaborating the strategic planning for the action of the labor inspection.
Structure of the Brazilian Labor Inspection
The Brazilian Labor Inspection is composed of the Labor Inspectors, who are civil servants belonging to a typical career of the State, regulated by Law n. 10.593/2002. They are the labor authorities in charge of ensuring the application of the legal provisions concerning the working conditions and the protection of workers in the exercise of their professions, especially those related to: the duration of work, wages, safety, hygiene and welfare, the employment of children and adolescents and other related matters.
The Labor Inspectors are distributed throughout the country, in the Regional Superintendencies of Labor, and in the Headquarters, in Brasília, and are technically subordinated to the SIT and administratively linked to the respective Regional Superintendencies of Labor (SRTb).
They, together with the authorities of national, regional or local direction and the Agents of Hygiene and Safety at Work, make up the Federal System of Labor Inspection (SFIT), which aims to ensure, throughout the national territory, the application of the norms of protection to work, including those of Safety and Health at Work, the acts and decisions of the competent authorities and the conventions, agreements and collective contracts of work, concerning the protection of workers in the exercise of the labor activity.
The management of the Federal System of Labor Inspection (SFIT) as a whole is the competence of the Secretariat of Labor Inspection (SIT), an organ currently linked to the Secretariat of Labor (STRAB), inserted in the structure of the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MTE).
In addition to the Secretariat of Labor Inspection (SIT), it is worth highlighting the structure of the Regional Superintendencies of Labor (SRTbs), since these decentralized units of the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MTE) are also responsible for the execution of the fiscal actions, through activities and projects carried out regionally, that materialize and capillarize the presence of the labor inspection in the respective geographical units.
The SRTb are organized in three types of structures, related to the size of the units, called Groups I, II and III.
Role of the Brazilian Labor Inspection
The role of the Brazilian Labor Inspection is to promote decent work, which is defined by the ILO as “the work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men”.
To fulfill this role, the Brazilian Labor Inspection performs the following functions:
- To enforce the legal provisions concerning the working conditions and the protection of workers in the exercise of their professions, through inspection visits, notifications, fines, embargoes, interdictions and other administrative measures.
- To provide information and technical advice to employers and workers on the most effective means of complying with the legal provisions, as well as to bring to the attention of the competent authority the deficiencies or abuses that are not specifically covered by the existing legal provisions.
- To investigate and report on accidents at work and occupational diseases, as well as to propose preventive and corrective measures to avoid or reduce them.
- To combat child labor and forced labor, as well as to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, migrants and other vulnerable groups in the labor market.
- To monitor and supervise the collection of the social security contributions and the payment of the unemployment insurance and the salary bonus, as well as to assist the workers in the exercise of their rights and benefits.
- To participate in the elaboration, implementation and evaluation of public policies related to work, such as the National Plan for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor and the Protection of Adolescent Workers, the National Plan for the Eradication of Slave Labor, the National Plan for the Promotion of Decent Work and the National Plan for the Promotion of Equality and the Fight against Discrimination in the World of Work.
- To cooperate with other public agencies and civil society entities in the formulation of programs and actions for the protection of work, such as the National Pact for the Eradication of Slave Labor, the National Forum for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor, the National Commission for the Eradication of Slave Labor, the National Commission for the Promotion of Decent Work and the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality and the Fight against Discrimination in the World of Work.
- To develop programs and actions of technical and scientific cooperation with national and international organizations, in matters of protection of work, such as the ILO, the OAS, the MERCOSUR, the CPLP and the BRICS.
- To monitor the compliance, at the national level, of the agreements and conventions ratified by Brazil with international organizations, especially the ILO, such as the Fundamental Conventions on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, the Elimination of All Forms of Forced or Compulsory Labor, the Effective Abolition of Child Labor and the Elimination of Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation.
Challenges and Achievements of the Brazilian Labor Inspection
The Brazilian Labor Inspection faces several challenges in the performance of its role, such as:
- The adaptation to the rapid changes that occur in the economy and in the world of work, with the emergence of new forms of production and service provision, and the impact on the maintenance and generation of employment and income.
- The improvement of the quality and efficiency of the inspection actions, with the use of information and communication technologies, the adoption of risk-based approaches, the development of indicators and evaluation systems, and the promotion of continuous training and qualification of the labor inspectors.
- The strengthening of the social dialogue and the participation of the workers and employers in the prevention and resolution of labor conflicts, as well as in the improvement of the working conditions and the protection of the workers’ rights.
- The expansion of the coverage and the capillarity of the labor inspection, especially in the rural areas, in the informal sector, in the small and medium enterprises, and in the sectors with greater incidence of labor violations, such as construction, domestic work, agriculture, mining, fishing, among others.
- The enhancement of the coordination and integration with other public agencies and civil society entities, in order to optimize the use of resources, avoid duplication of efforts, and increase the effectiveness of the actions for the protection of work.
Despite these challenges, the Brazilian Labor Inspection has also achieved significant results in the promotion of decent work, such as:
- The rescue of more than 55 thousand workers from slavery-like conditions, since 1995, when the Special Mobile Inspection Group was created.
- The removal of more than 4 million children and adolescents from child labor, since 1992, when the National Plan for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor and the Protection of Adolescent Workers was launched.
- The inclusion of more than 500 thousand people with disabilities in the labor market