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By Ed Taylor
Feb. 10—Legislation approved by Brazil's congress permits an increase in paternity leave from five days to 20, although the increase will not affect all companies.
The law approved on Feb. 3 applies to companies taking part in a voluntary program created in 2010 to encourage six-month maternity leave, up from the normal four months. Under that program, the wage cost of the increased leave can be deducted from company income taxes. The deduction will also apply to any increase in paternity leave.
At present, 18,700 companies take part in this program, most of them large firms. In the view of Brazil's National Confederation of Industry, however, there will be little interest in signing up for the extended paternity leave.
“It is important to evaluate the impact on lost productivity for companies caused by the 20-day absence of qualified professionals, one of the major current problems of Brazil,” the confederation said in a statement.
Brazil is currently in the midst of its deepest recession in over 30 years with unemployment close to 10 percent. Industrial production in 2015 fell by 8.3 percent, the largest decline in recent history.
Emerson Casali, a job market analyst, told Bloomberg BNA that the increased paternity leave will have a cost impact on companies. While companies can deduct expenses for salaries from their income taxes, they still must pay normal employee benefits guaranteed by Brazil's strict labor laws, said Casali, noting that it is too early to estimate the total impact of the program.
Labor unions applauded the new legislation. According to Joao Carlos Goncalves, secretary general of Brazil's second largest union umbrella group, the Forca Sindical, the law “is positive from both a social and a cultural point of view.”
The law also gives prospective fathers the right to take a set number of days off to accompany their wives for prenatal doctor appointments and appointments during the child's first six years.
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For more information on Brazilian HR law and regulation, see the Brazil primer.
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