Structure and organization of the Labour Inspection

Name of the Institution in charge of labour affairs

Ministry of Labour and Employment

Department(s) in charge of Labour Inspection

In Brazil, labour inspection falls within the competence of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, embodied in its organizational structure, by the Labour Inspection Secretariat (Secretaría de Inspeção do Trabalho, SIT). The SIT is responsible for establishing guidelines and for undertaking inspection activities that are implemented by the decentralized branches of the Ministry, the Regional Superintendencies of Labour and Employment (Superintendências Regionais do Trabalho, SRTE). It is the Inspectorate’s responsibility to monitor the implementation of enforcement actions and to promote research and examine proposals for legislative changes relating to the world of work. The SIT is divided into two departments: Department of Labour Inspection, and Department of Health and Safety at Work.

Laws that cover organization and functional composition

  • The 1988 Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil, art. 21, item XXIV, establishes the competence of the Union to organize, maintain and carry out labour inspection.
  • Law No. 10.683, of 28 May 2003, provides for the organization of the Presidency and the Ministries, determining, in its art. 27, item XXI, the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MTE).
  • Presidential Decree No. 5063 of 3 May 2004, approves the internal structure of the Ministry of Labour and Employment (SIT is set in Annex I, Art. 2, item II, paragraph "b").
  • Decree of the Minister of Labour No. 483 of 15 September 2004 approving the bylaws of the organs of the MTE (the bylaws of the SIT is set in Annex VI).
  • Decree Law No. 5452 of 1 May 1943 (Consolidation of Labour Laws), Title VII (Processing administrative fine), Chapter I (Enforcement, prosecution, and imposition of fines - arts. 626 to 634).
  • Presidential Decree No. 4552 of 27 December 2002 approves the regulation of labour inspection.
  • Law 8.112 of 11 December 1990, which provides for the Unified Legal Regime of the State’s Civil Servants, of the Local Governments and of the federal public foundations.
  • Law No. 10,593 of 6 December 2002, which provides for the organization of the Labour Inspection Career.

Scope of labour inspection

The Federal Labour Inspection System in Brazil currently has 2,997 Labour Inspectors with the competence to operate throughout the national territory, in the urban, rural, port and waterway realms, covering all enterprises, establishments and work places, public and private, professional and non-profit institutions, as well as foreign vessels in Brazilian jurisdictional waters. Its role is to verify compliance with all laws and regulations, including those relating to safety and health at work in the context of labour relations and employment, compliance with agreements, conventions and collective bargaining, agreements between workers and employers, and agreements, treaties and conventions ratified by Brazil. Other examples of its many tasks include the enforcement of quotas for the inclusion of apprentices and persons with disabilities in the labour market and the enforcement of activities for the eradication of child labour and the elimination of forced labour (working conditions analogous to slavery).

Territorial Division

The organizational structure of MTE determines that the labour inspection system in Brazil is composed of a central agency and 27 decentralized units directly subordinated to the Minister of State. The central body is the SIT, which is located in the capital (Brasília). The decentralized units, the Regional Superintendencies of Labour and Employment (SRTEs), are located in each of the 26 states of the federation and the Federal District and are administrative units subordinated to the Regional Offices of Labour and Employment and the Regional Agencies.

The territory of each federal unit (or state), is divided into constituencies, which are further divided into inspection areas bound by certain geographical criteria. The Labour Inspectors act in different geographical jurisdictions within the same district under a system of random rotation. However, the reappointment of an inspector to the same area in two consecutive periods is prohibited. The Labour Inspectors remain up to twelve months inspecting a given geographical area.

It is also necessary to take into consideration the local peculiarities or the need for special inspection programs in some areas. For this, the national component of the labour inspection system, which is not attached to any of the traditional local inspection areas, allows the SIT to create special groups of mobile inspection that cut across different jurisdictions. This alternative has been used, for example, to combat forced labour.

Programming and communication

The national labour inspection system works in a strategically planned and coordinated manner, involving the SIT and the SRTEs. The SIT has the responsibility to formulate and propose the guidelines for the annual work plan while the SRTE implements and undertakes labour inspection activities within those parameters. The methodology for the formulation of these documents is structured in three steps: assessment of the labour market; identification of courses of action in order to tackle the labour irregularities identified in the assessment; and monitoring activities. Several sources are used to access the data needed for the assessment, including: the National Survey by Household Sampling; the Annual Report on Social Information; the General Registry of Employed and Unemployed Workers; the Federal Labour Inspection System; and other data from official sources.

The Commission for Collaboration with Labour Inspection (Comissão de Colaboração com a Inspeção do Trabalho, CCIT) is a consultative forum that works together with SRTE. In it, trade unions are called to participate in the strategic planning of the inspection actions, especially in regards to identifying economic activities that should be prioritized due to sign s of labour irregularities. According to these strategies, the SRTE establishes thematic groups in different areas of inspection such as pension fund regulations, combating fraud, compliance with legal quotas for apprentices and persons with disabilities, combating child labour and forced labour, supervision of port areas, supervision of rural work, among others.

It is the SRTEs’ responsibility to send to the central body, in due time and in the format specified in the relevant regulations, the quantitative and qualitative evaluation on the implementation of the work plan. Likewise, managers at the technical level have the responsibility of observing the provisions and of monitoring the performance of the Labour Inspectors who are subordinated to them.

Permanency of Inspectors

The Labour Inspectors are national civil servants regulated by a single legal regime that applies to all civil servants of the Union, of local governments and federal public foundations. They are organized by grades within the Labour Inspection career. Each grade is sub-divided into numbers, so that that the career’s entry-level grade starts in grade A level 1. Advancement within the Labour Inspectors career occurs through functional progression and by promotions subject to vacancy availability and by the approval of the immediate supervisor in the yearly evaluation. A functional progression is when the civil servant moves to the next level of the same grade, while promotion constitutes the civil servant moving from the last level within one grade to the first one within the subsequent grade. Since they exercise functions that are typically attributed to the State, the Labour Inspectors have independence when performing their duties – within legally established limits.

The labour inspectorate has a national system of capacity building that aims to train and improve the labour inspector, through the implementation of specific courses, including basic training for the newly recruited and specialisation. In order to better manage the capacity building process within the federal public service, there is a specific policy with guidelines for the training of federal civil servants. This public policy stipulates incentive mechanisms for public servants to engage in capacity building initiatives aimed at developing institutional and individual skills; training inside or outside the workplace; capacity-building for the promotion of managerial skills; formulation of an annual training plan for the institution, including themes and training methods to be implemented; formation of a steering committee and provision of a license, for the areas in which there is specific interest within the labour inspector’s career.

Selection Process

The labour inspectors join the ranks of their labour inspection colleagues after successfully completing a public examination. They gain professional stability within their career after three years of active service. The basic requirements for being eligible for the labour inspector public office are: having Brazilian nationality, possession of political rights, being up-to-date with military and electoral obligations; completion of university-level education, being at least 18 years of age and enjoying physical and mental health.

Necessary education level:

Candidates for the labour inspector career should have completed an upper-level course.

Visits and functions

Type and nature of visits

Labour inspection is based on previously planned activities in order to meet: national monitoring projects that all SRTEs are mandated to implement; strategic projects that are to be implemented by groups of SRTEs selected by the SIT; and locals projects, to be implemented in specific sectors and economic activities which are selected by the SRTE based on a list presented by SIT. The SRTE’s are also responsible for including in their planning enforcement, actions in response to complaints from workers and demands of the Labour Prosecutions Office that arise throughout the year. Complaints involving immediate risk to the safety, health or to the remuneration of workers are immediately addressed.

The Labour Inspector in possession of the adequate credentials has the right to enter freely, without notice, at any time and day, in all workplaces subject to inspection. Moreover, inspections, where appropriate, will be made unexpectedly, with the required precautions, at the time and moment most convenient for their effectiveness. It is mandatory for Inspectors to show their credentials at the moment the inspection is taking place, unless the Labour Inspector judges that such identification may affect the effectiveness of the action. The inspector, however, can only demand access to documents after presenting his or her legal credentials. Finally, they are forbidden to disclose sources of information, complaints or formal reports.

Role of preventive measures

Labour inspection in Brazil has also a preventive nature. Labour Inspectors give guidance, provide information and technical advice to workers and to employers subject to labour inspection, according to certain criteria such as: administrative opportunity and convenience; previous investigation and analysis of situations that could generate occupational diseases and accidents; the necessary preventive measures to be taken; the notification of those subject to undergoing inspections so they are better able to fulfil their obligations, correct irregularities and adopt measures that will eliminate risks to health and safety of employees, within their facilities or working practices.


The annual plan is divided into projects, with a timetable of actions, budget forecasts, and goals. The inspectors receive orders to carry out actions directly from their supervisors.

Records and notifications of accidents and occupational diseases

If a worker has a work-related injury or illness, the employer issues a Notification of Accident at Work (Comunicação de Acidente do Trabalho, CAT) that is registered in the state pension fund by the next business day. The notice must indicate whether there was a leave of absence from the workplace. If that is the case, the employer is responsible for financing up to 15 days of the worker’s remuneration, while the pension fund is responsible for incurring the expenses after that period depending on the expert medical evaluation. The data from these notifications constitute the database that provides the current information available regarding occupational diseases and accidents throughout the country. It is important to note however, that it is limited since it only provides information on formal employees, which constitute only half of the economically active population of Brazil.

Sanctions and administrative procedures

When labour inspectors confirm a violation of a labour law, he or she formulates an infraction arraignment – an instrument that describes the elements that breached the law. The analysis of the violation takes place through an administrative process, where the employers have the opportunity to defend themselves and submit relevant documentation. If the defence does not succeed, a legally stipulated fine is applied for the offense. Administrative labour fines are classified into fixed, fixed per capita, variable and variable per capita, which can be increased depending on the circumstances in which the inspection took place or the infraction recurrences of the accused. Currently, the collection of pending administrative fines is responsibility of the Office of the National Treasury Prosecution Office, the agency responsible for the registration of outstanding debts and their collection.

Employers who violate the laws or regulations when inspected, or prove negligent in their application, failing to heed the warnings, notices or sanctions given by the competent authority, may undergo repeated inspections or be taken to the Judiciary through the Labour Prosecutions Office.

Social Dialogue and Labour Inspection

In the process of preparing the annual inspection work plan, permanent dialogue with other social actors is given priority, especially the Labour Prosecutions Office and the Commission for Cooperation with the Labour Inspection (CCIT), which operates under the SRTEs. The CCIT’s aim is to strengthen the participation of union representatives in the process of discussion, formulation and monitoring of the annual work plan, including the evaluation of the results arising from it. This Commission assesses the main problems concerning breaches of legislation in its respective SRTE territory, indicating the violations that occur more frequently in order to prioritize certain activities.

As part of this social dialogue process, the SRTE can also ask the Regional Labour Court about the economic activities in which labour disputes are most frequent.

ILO Conventions ratified

Brazil ratified Convention No. 81 (1947) on labour inspection in industry and trade. However, to date it has not ratified, Convention No. 129 (1969) on labour inspection in agriculture, even though national legislation already ensures labour inspection in agriculture.