In order to update the Labour Health and Safety Regulations (NRs) and increase productivity and competitiveness of Brazilian companies while also protecting employees, on 30th July 2019, Portarias 915 and 916 of the Special Labour and Public Pension System Secretariat of the Ministry of Economy were issued.
Such changes envisaged by the Federal Government promise to be the first step of a project that seeks to flexibilize regulations that, in some way, may represent a hindrance to Brazilian economic growth.
There are currently 36 NRs inf force which consist in a compilation of obligations, rights and duties related to health and safety in the workplace and that must be observed by employers and employees to prevent diseases and avoid accidents.
As part of the Federal Government´s project – which intends to review all 36 NRs by the end of 2021 – this first step aimed to amend the provisions of two NRs and revok a third NR under reviews approved by the Permanent Tripartite parity commission formed by members of Government and of employer and employee representatives.
Among the NRs that have already undergone amendments are: (i) NR -1, which contains general provisions, guidelines for interpretation of other NRs and special treatment for entrepreneurs and Smes classified as MEI, ME and EPP; and (ii) NR-12, which regulates the operation of machinery and equipment. NR-2, which used to be focused on the preliminary inspection of company establishments, was revoked by the project with the intention of reducing the existing bureaucracy in this area and reducing governmental intervention in the private sector.
In addition to reviewing the NRs, the Federal Government´s project also establishes a calendar for upgrading, consolidating and converging work-related regulations, normative instructions and decrees, including the consolidation of presidential decrees regarding the enactment of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions ratified by Brazil.
Despite of the official calendar announced by the Federal Government, reproduced below, until this moment no other NR has been reviewed or revoked.
According to the Federal Government, all current and future changes aim to reduce bureaucracy and employer costs, softening the legislation, reducing the level of discretion of labour related inspections and, therefore, reducing the rate of penalties and fines imposed. Despite the intended reviews and the impact on work-related safety regulations, all companies must continue to provide safe work environments and will be liable for triggering diseases and for the occurrence of accidents in the workplace, even if complying with the new NRs.