Decree No. 9,571/2018 (the "Decree"), approved by the House of Representatives, establishes the National Guidelines for Businesses and Human Rights, for medium and large companies (those with annual gross revenue of more than R$ 4,800,000.00), including multinational companies operating in Brazil. The very small and small businesses1 will be able to comply with the same guidelines mentioned in the Decree, to the extent of their ability.
The central concern of the Decree seems to be to give publicity to actions taken for the defense of human rights within the corporate environment. Therefore, it is recommended to adopt active transparency measures, such as the disclosure of supplementary and periodic information resulting from the internal audit system and risk management2 .
Despite its establishing practical measures to be adopted by public entities and private companies, the Decree does not provide penalties in case of noncompliance with the guidelines. There is only an incentive of economic nature and market positioning: companies that voluntarily implement the legal guidelines may receive a "Business and Human Rights Seal", via an act of the Minister for Human Rights, which will guarantee a privileged position in the business scenario.
The Decree provides guidelines applicable in the public and private areas, among which are:
– government obligations to protect human rights in business activities;
– responsibility of companies with respect to human rights;
– access to mechanisms of redress and remedy in cases of violation; and
– implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the National Guidelines on Businesses and Human Rights.
From a labor law perspective, these are among the most relevant topics:
– government obligation to promote policies to combat discrimination in labor relationships, child labor and work in conditions similar to slavery, and
– the importance of diversity in the work environment.
Companies should, in each step of the production chain:
– maintaining and promoting decent conditions of work through the production environment,
– with appropriate remuneration,
– with freedom, equity, safety and respect for the rules and principles that govern labor relations.
Human rights should also be incorporated into corporate management and vertically apply measures to prevent violation of human rights.
In addition, the Decree recommends preventive and repressive internal measures, such as the implementation of a publicly accessible code of conduct, approved by the company's management, and internal mechanisms to report and make complaints intended to identify, prevent, and repair human rights violations.
1 The very small and small companies are, respectively, those that have, per calendar year, gross income (i) equal to or lower than R$ 360,000.00, and (ii) those with more than R$ 360,000.00 and equal to or less than R$ 4,800,000.00.
2 This approach seeks to highlight the diagonal effectiveness of fundamental rights, particularly human rights, in asymmetric legal relationships (in particular those in Labor Law), and in the context of the corporate environment.
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