Federal Government approves Law that prohibits pregnant women work on site during the Covid-19 pandemic

After presidential sanction, Law No. 14,151 was published today (05/13/21), which establishes that pregnant employees must not perform on site activities during the public health emergency of national importance resulting from the new coronavirus, without prejudice to remuneration. The employee on leave will also remain available to carry out activities at home, through teleworking, remote work or other form of distance work.

According to the General Secretariat of the Presidency, the sanction of the law “is an important measure for the preservation of the family entity and represents a healthy measure for the protection of pregnant women and, at the same time, for the safe use of their workforce“.

However, the law already generates debates, as there is no mention of cases in which remote work is not possible, nor is there a maximum time limit for this measure.

As it is not a social security leave (INSS), the employer remains responsible for the payment of the remuneration for the entire leave, which, due to the literal interpretation of the legal text, may not be reduced.

This wording also gives rise to a discussion on the compatibility of the norm with the recently approved Provisional Presidential Decree No. 1045, which created the New Emergency Program for Employment and Income Maintenance. The new program allows the suspension of the employment contract or proportional reduction of the workday and salary for up to 120 days, and also contemplates pregnant employees. If the approved law provides that the removal of the pregnant woman from face-to-face activities should not result in a loss of remuneration, the application of suspension and reduction measures would become unfeasible.

Finally, there is a concern that the law will have discriminatory effects, in situations where remote work is not possible, impacting the hiring of women for these jobs.