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Brazil enacts law to ensure equal pay for women and men

18 July, 2023Brazilian President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva has signed a law guaranteeing equal pay for women and men. This is a historic step for a country where women workers earn lower average wages than men, even when their levels of education, jobs and length of service are similar.

Women workers in Brazil earn 21 per cent less than men, according to data from the Inter-Trade Union Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies (DIESSE). In sectors where women predominate (like health, education and social services), the pay gap is even wider: 32 per cent compared to men’s pay.

In response to this, President Lula da Silva signed Bill 1085 into law on 3 July, with a view to guaranteeing equal pay and remuneration for women and men, seeking to combat the inequalities in the labour market, increase women’s financial autonomy and improve their overall situation.

The legislation sets out measures to promote and implement diversity and inclusion programmes in the workplace, including training on the issue for managers, leaders and employees.

It also requires companies with 100 or more employees to provide transparent half-yearly reports on pay and remuneration criteria. These reports should contain information enabling an objective comparison of men’s and women’s pay and remuneration.

In the event of irregularities, administrative penalties will be applied and judicial processes to redress the inequality will be facilitated. The new legislation increases the fine by up to ten times in cases where a woman is paid less than a man doing the same job and doubles it for repeat offences. The law also provides for compensation for moral damages on grounds of discrimination based on sex, race, ethnicity, origin or age.

“The new law establishes that the criteria of equal pay and remuneration are mandatory for women and men doing work of equal value or the same job. (...)
We have the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Women, the Public Ministry of Labour... and everyone has to work towards ensuring compliance with the law,”

said the President on the day of the signing.

Mónica Veloso, IndustriALL vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, emphasises the significance for women workers in Brazil:

“It is essential that we take ownership of this historic victory in the fight for gender equality and make this public instrument a reality for women in the world of work. We need to extend its application in collective agreements.

"The trade union movement, with the strength of women workers, can and must be a strong ally of this public policy enabling a social and economic transformation in the lives of women workers.”