The Public Ministry of Labor (MPT) issued the Technical Note (NT) nº 1/2021 recommending companies to implement alternative measures for pregnant employees during the covid-19 pandemic.
According to the MPT, when the pregnant woman's activity is compatible with remote work, the company must adopt this modality, avoiding exposure to the risk of contagion. In this context, it is essential to observe what is provided for in articles 75-A to 75-E of the CLT.[i]
When the pregnant woman's work is only possible in person, the company must relocate her to other sectors of the company, in airy or isolated spaces, and with fewer employees. Besides, you must ensure flexible hours so that pregnant women do not have to travel to work during peak hours on public transport.
The technical note also mentions that, during the pandemic, a pregnant employee’s unfair dismissal may constitute discriminatory dismissal.
The text has no force oflaw. It is only a recommendation of the MPT and indicates the institution's possible understanding of administrative inspections.
High risk for pregnant women
For the issuance of NT, the MPT took into account current statistical data on covid-19 and studies that point to an increase in the mortality of pregnant women and women who have given birth (puerperal women) affected by the disease. Brazil currently accounts for about 77% of these cases worldwide, and the MPT's concern with this group of workers is legitimate.
. Companies increasingly adopt remote work as a safe option for employees who are part of risk groups, like pregnant women. In any modality, remote work can be an immediate and effective solution, considering that, since the beginning of the pandemic, many companies have used other alternatives, such as the granting of collective vacations (full or partial), suspension of employment contracts (lay off), suspension of the employment contract for qualification purposes (article 476-A of the CLT) or measures provided for in Law No. 14.020 / 20, which can no longer be applied.[ii]
However, companies’ concern remains with the need to define the way the work will be provided since it is necessary to continue productive activities and maintain jobs. All of this in a scenario still with high rates of contagion.
[i] Articles 75-A to 75-E of the CLT are part of chapter II-A, entitled “Do Teletrabalho” and were inserted by Law nº 13.467 / 2017.
[ii] Legislative Decree No. 6/2020 was in effect until 12/31/2020, so that the measures provided for in Law No. 14,020 / 2020 were applicable as long as the state of public calamity was in effect.