Government changes rules for recruitment of casual port workers

30/05/2020 - 12:44 | Author: Proinde

Update 30 May 2020: The Federal Senate extended MP 945/2020 for 60 days counted from 29 May 2020. 

In the context of combating COVID-19, on 4 April 2020, the president of Brazil enacted Provisional Measure no. 945 (MP 945/2020), which provides for changes in the recruitment and remuneration of casual port work to protect the workforce and preserve jobs in the port sector, critical to the supply chain and the domestic economy. It also regulates the temporary cession of military aprons for use by private companies that provide air transport services.

The Act introduces changes in the way port operators recruit casual port workers (dockers, stevedores, watchmen, etc.) from the Casual Port Work Managing Body (OGMO) and the regime of compensation for those port workers infected with the coronavirus or within the risk group.

MP 945/2020 provides an online assignment of casual port workers so that they do not have to gather at the usually crowded port roster stations and only will need to attend at the port area to clock in for duty. Under this regulation, OGMO will not recruit casual port workers who:

  • display any of the typical symptoms of COVID-19, with or without fever;
  • were tested positive for COVID-19 or undergo home isolation measures for cohabitating with a person diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding;
  • are aged 60 or older; or
  • were diagnosed with acquired immunodeficiency, respiratory or cardiovascular diseases or other chronic or severe pre-existing illnesses

Casual port workers who fall under any of the conditions mentioned above will be entitled to a monthly compensation corresponding to 50% of the individual’s average earnings in the last six months. This amount will be paid by the port operators (or the by the party that hires the port workers), proportionally to the port workforce required from the unions through the OGMO. As the indemnity is compensatory, no income tax or social duties will be charged to the port operators or the workers.

In the event of increased costs, the port operators who are not lessees but eventually use public port facilities may obtain proportional discounts on port tariffs. Those operators with existing leasing contracts with the port authorities will be entitled to amend the contractual terms to restore economic and financial balance. The law is unclear about how the tax returns and port tariff restructuring will work in practice.

Port operators will be allowed to hire workers directly, under a contract of employment and for a predetermined period not exceeding 12 months, in case of shortage of casual port workers resulting from strikes, downtime movements, and work-to-rule actions.

The Provisional Measure, which is an act of urgency and legal relevance enacted by the president without the need for prior approval by the National Congress, will be in force for 120 days and may be extended. Various proposals for amendments to MP 945/2020 have already been presented by the House of Representatives and the Federal Senate to bridge regulatory gaps in the statute.

Our free English translation of MP 945/2020 is available for download here, and further information on the health measures imposed at Brazilian ports and airports in the fight against COVID-19 can be found here.

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