What is decent work?

After all, what does decent work mean? Decent work is “properly paid work, carried out under conditions of freedom, equity and security, capable of guaranteeing a dignified life”, according to the main organization that works on the theme in the world, the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The central element of the concept of decent work, conceived by the ILO in 1999, is equal opportunities and treatment between men and women and the fight against all forms of discrimination. The concept summarizes the organization's mission of promoting opportunities for men and women to have productive and quality work, under conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.

Decent work is considered a fundamental condition for overcoming poverty, reducing social inequalities, guaranteeing democratic governance and sustainable development. It is fundamental for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) defined by the United Nations. In particular, SDG 8, which seeks to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men”. The main aspects of decent work have also been largely included in the goals of many other SDGs in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. 

Source: ILO

Decent Work vs. Slave Labor

Among the priorities for promoting decent work in the world is facing and fighting slave labor. The goals related to slave labor in the SDGs speak of the worldwide commitment to “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and ensure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and the use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms. ”

The SDGs also address the need for effective measures to eradicate forced labor, human trafficking and modern slavery, serious violations of human rights. Goal 8.8 is clear in this regard: "Protect labor rights and promote safe and protected work environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular migrant women, and people in precarious employment".

The ILO Declaration on Fundamental Rights and Principles in Labor also has among its strategic objectives the importance of combating slave labor and establishes as priorities: (ii) elimination of all forms of forced labor; (iii) the effective abolition of child labor; (iv) elimination of all forms of discrimination in terms of employment and occupation; the promotion of productive and quality employment, the extension of social protection and the strengthening of social dialogue.

To learn about the International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions, ratified by Brazil, access the link: Conventions ratified by Brazil, International Standards on Slave Labor.


To illustrate the size of the challenge, ILO monitoring and research shows that 40,3 million people were subjected to modern slavery in 2016, according to Walk Free's Global Slavery Index 2018 report. Of this world number, 71% are women and 29% are men.

- 24,9 million people in forced labor
- 14,9 million people in forced marriage

In Brazil, the organization estimates that:
- 370 thousand people are in working conditions analogous to slavery
- More than 53 thousand people have been rescued from slave labor in Brazil since
- More than 90% of workers rescued from slavery come from municipalities
with low development rates

Source: Labor Inspection (Ministry of Economy) and Digital Slave Labor Observatory



Recognition of slave labor in Brazil


Emergence of PEC


UN recognition as a crime that harms humanity 
Draws together the first Pact 
Ruth Vilela, Inocêncio de Oliveira


UN recognition as a crime that harms humanity


Workshop on legislative improvement of slave labor
Beginning of the ILO slave labor project
Recognizing slave labor as a crime
Show Brazil that slave labor exists
Repression, prevention and reintegration
The Executive Group for the Suppression of Forced Labor - GERTRAF is created


Launch of the first National Plan to Combat Slave Labor
Publication of the dirty list by the MTE
Social Forum - First event attended by 1900 people
ILO says public funding for TE exists
Study of the production chain based on the dirty list


IOS publishes the coal chain
First meeting in Ethos with ILO and IOS
Ethos is provoked to call companies to talk
ILO and IOS presents to Ethos and Ethos calls company by chain. Not published but discussed with companies in the sector
Business call for dialogue
Pact consultation and construction period
Approval of PEC 438 first round
ICC creation


Several meetings with companies and associations
Sectors and companies react differently
Many companies are unaware of slave labor in the chain
Report in the media
May 19: Presentation of the Pact to President Lula
80 signatory companies initially
ILO + ICC + GZT Reintegration project
Vale conducts TE awareness program
Adherence of the AMaggi Group to the Pact
Eletronorte becomes signatory


Slave labor as a federal crime
Monitor the conduct of signatories
Greenpeace releases soy report
International recognition of the Pact's policies and initiatives
Pact meeting in Germany
Construction of principles and premises of the soy chain
Social Cotton Institute Creation
First Pact Seminar
C&A has an internal monitoring program
Soy Moratorium Report


New study of slave labor from RB to ILO
Project of how monitoring could be
Training, reintegration and monitoring 56 interviews
Impressive case: striking 1108 workers
Blocking the purchase of ethanol by companies
Senators' action impacting the company's marketing
Popcorn cases where the Pact is a reference for social responsibility
Ethos Congress with executive table on TE
US Pact Meeting
JBS signatory to the pact


Quantitative survey platform
Launch of the digital platform
Sustainable Connections - Regulation of Amazon purchases
First published report on Connections
New wave of concerns for companies
Carrefour starts creating sustainability area
Pact meeting in Europe and USA
Meeting in Geneva on TE


WalMart helps approve PEC 438
Cosam Case on the Dirty List
Creation of the TE program at ABVTEX
ILO begins technical coordination project to strengthen the Pact
Launched under the National Plan for the Eradication of Slave Labor
Sustainable Connections Event - Ethos
End of sugarcane burning
Livestock Case - Greenpeace releases “Farra do boi” report
New platform survey


Second Report created by Conexões
C&A becomes a signatory to the Pact
Monitoring analysis starts
Expulsion of companies by the Pact
Grain report: first time that there was no involvement of the signatories with the dirty list
Creation of the Pact's visual identity
ISO 26000 for social responsibility
SP and MT more attentive in sewing workshops
Increased enforcement in urban areas
Approximation of the Pact with immigration organizations
Decent work pact


Concern of the Pact: signatories grow exponentially, quality of membership decreases
International Covenant Commitment
Membership of 40 C & A suppliers - campaign
External Evaluation of the Pact
Pact restructuring decision
Annual Pact Seminar
Articulated initiatives for the reintegration of the Pact with companies
Washington Pact Meeting


Pact and C&A worker rights booklet
Approval of the second round of PEC in the chamber
Integrated Action Project - AMaggi Group
Contractual redesign with TE at Carrefour
First meeting of the Pact transition committee
Conceptual note of creation of InPACTO
Ethos designs transition project
Annual Pact Seminar
Publication of production chains
Pact begins new mobilization strategy and collective signature
Companies calling for suppliers to the Pact (demand for companies)
Pernambucanas signs the Pact
National Labor Conference


C&A becomes institutional supporter of the Pact
Eletronorte Workshop in Maranhão
Decision that knowledge-generating organizations stay out of InPACTO
Annual Pact Seminar and launch of InPACTO
State law that companies caught with TE lose ICMS
Many textile companies have been reported on the dirty list
4 transition committee meetings
Definition of statutory positions
Construction of estimated budget to present quotas
Executive Secretary of InPACTO is hired in Ethos


InPACTO counselor interviews
InPACTO planning workshop


After 10 years the Justice condemns those responsible for the deaths of inspectors in Unaí
InPACTO Seminar: Celebrating 10 years of the National Pact for the Eradication of Slave Labor
InPACTO celebrates 2 years
Diagnosis of slave labor points out that the situation worsens in the country


InPACTO and partners receive Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize 2014
CNJ creates forum to combat slave labor and human trafficking
Ministers recreate Black List of slave labor on last day of government
STF releases disclosure of the Dirty List
Slave labor reaches more than 160 Brazilians, estimates Walk Free
MPF asks banks not to finance employers who use slave labor
Inter-American Court of Human Rights punishes Brazil for slave labor


Justice maintains the Union's obligation to disclose the Dirty List
Ministry of Labor extinguishes the Working Group that dealt with the rules related to the Dirty List
InPACTO participates, in Moscow, of a conference on human trafficking
France introduces new “duty of vigilance” against slave labor
Inspection of slave labor for lack of funds
Ministry of Labor releases new ordinance that limits inspection of slave labor
InPACTO and CRS take Project Coffee Table Brazil to the International Coffee Week
InPACTO participates in global forum on forced labor in Thailand
InPACTO participates in workshop and training in the USA


Government issues new ordinance on slave labor
InPACTO contributes to the development of an international guide released by the OSCE
Brazil Coffee Table Project mobilizes organizations to discuss sector challenges
Mesa de Café Brasil holds workshop on normative instruments for the sector's social sustainability
Ministry of Labor updates Dirty List of slave labor
Commission approves cassation of CNPJ of companies involved in slave labor
InPACTO completes 4 years working to prevent and eradicate slave labor
Ministry of Labor publishes List of Slave Labor
InPACTO participates in the launch of the Fashion Brasil Transparency Index
InPACTO launches Sectorial Pact for Social Sustainability of Café do Brasil
New Decree establishes the National Guidelines on Business and Human Rights
Maranhão Government creates State Program to Combat Slave Labor

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Legislation and acts


Article 149

Article 149, included in our Penal Code by the decree of Law 2848/40, deals especially with the prohibition of ...

Ordinance No. 4 of 11/05/2016

Ordinance N.4 of 11/05/2016 provides for rules regarding the Employer Register, which now registers ...

Ordinance No. 1429

Ordinance N. 1429, of 16/12/2016, instituted a Working Group to discuss new rules on the Employer Register ...

432 / 13 Bill

Bill 432/13 provides for the expropriation of rural and urban properties where the exploitation of ...

Ordinance no. 289/2018

Ordinance no. 289/2018 establishes, within the scope of the Ministry of Human Rights, the Business and Human Rights Committee -...


Australian Modern Slavery Act 2018

Requires an annual public statement describing: the entity's structure, operations and supply chains, potential ...

French Corporate Law Duty of Vigilance

Requires a “surveillance plan” to prevent human rights violations and environmental impacts throughout its ...

UK Modern Slavery Act 2015

It requires companies of a certain size to disclose the measures adopted each year to ensure that there is no slavery ...

The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act

Requires companies subject to the law to disclose information about their efforts to eradicate human trafficking and the ...

Understanding the list of employers, known as the “Dirty List”

The Employer Register, which subjected workers to conditions analogous to slavery, is also known as the “Dirty List”. It is a public transparency mechanism of the Brazilian State, created in 2003, which discloses the names of individuals or legal entities that were caught with the use of slave labor.

Currently, the rules that govern the composition of the “Dirty List” are described in Ordinance No. 4 of 11/05/2016 (signed jointly by two ministries), and their list is published by the Labor Inspection Secretariat, linked to the Ministry of Economy .

Dirty List Image

According to Article 149 of the Brazilian Penal Code, there are four elements that configure the exploitation of slave labor: - Forced labor - the worker is subjected to working conditions without the possibility of leaving the place, due to debts, geographical isolation , physical and / or psychological threats and violence; - Degrading conditions - the person is exposed to a set of irregularities that make work precarious, putting their health and life at risk, and which threaten their dignity; - Exhaustive day - the worker is subjected to physical efforts or work overloads and that put their physical integrity at risk; - Debt bondage - the person is forced to illegally contract a debt that forces them to work to pay it and which are charged in an abusive way.

The Dirty List is the result of the effectiveness of the state labor inspection action. Auditors are trained to carry out these missions and follow a comprehensive document of national and international legislation, internal regulations on the roles, competences and responsibilities of tax auditors, as well as instructions from other administrative documents that support the work of the inspection and its various dimensions, one of them being the inspection against slave labor. see more here. From the denunciation, a group formed by the Public Prosecutor's Office, tax auditors, federal police or federal highway police (or any available police) goes to the location to verify the conditions denounced. Once the situation is proven, the employer is assessed and will be subject to: - Administrative proceeding, which, if final, with unappealable final decision, a fine may be applied to the employer. And, if you do not enter into or fail to comply with a judicial agreement or Conduct Adjustment Term, pursuant to Ordinance MTb / SDH-MJC no. 4 of 11/05/2016, the employer will have his name listed in the “Dirty List”, provided that, at the time of inspection, the infraction notice provided for in article 444 of the CLT was drawn up due to the finding of work analogous to that of a slave; - Public civil action by the Public Ministry of Labor, which may seek, mainly, a moral reparation for the practice committed; - Criminal proceedings based on article 149 of the Penal Code, which if the evidence is confirmed, the employer could face 2 to 8 years in prison. The penalty is aggravated if aspects of discrimination by race, ethnicity, age, gender, etc. were identified.

Before the publication of Ordinance N.4, of 11/05/2016, the employer remained on the list for two years and during this period he should make all necessary corrections to avoid recurrence, in addition to settling all pending matters with the government. From this ordinance, if the employer signs a Conduct Adjustment Term or judicial agreement with the federal government, it goes to an “observation area” of the register that is also disclosed, but indicates that the company is providing corrections. If you meet all the requirements, the employer can ask you to be removed from the list after one year. But if you do not comply with them, the employer is removed from the “observation area” and returned to the main list.

The denunciation can be made to a nearest Labor Office, or to the Police Station (Civil, Military or Federal), Public Prosecutor's Office, Prosecutor's Office, Public Defender's Office.

Art. 149. Reducing someone to a condition similar to that of a slave, either by subjecting him to forced labor or exhausting work hours, or by subjecting him to degrading working conditions, or by restricting, by any means, his locomotion due to debt contracted with the employer or agent: Penalty - imprisonment, from two to eight years, fine, in addition to the penalty corresponding to violence. 1º The same penalties apply to those who: I - restrict the use of any means of transport by the worker, in order to retain him in the workplace; II - maintains overt vigilance in the workplace or takes possession of documents or personal objects of the worker, in order to retain him in the workplace. 2nd The penalty is increased by half, if the crime is committed: I - against a child or adolescent; II - due to prejudice of race, color, ethnicity, religion or origin .. Definition of institutional racism: CEERT - FES Primer. : Art. 206. Recruit workers, through fraud, in order to take them to foreign territory: Penalty - detention, from 1 (one) to 3 (three) years and a fine. Art. 207. To entice workers, in order to take them from one to another location in the national territory: Penalty - imprisonment from one to three years, and fine. 1º The same penalty applies to those who recruit workers outside the locality where the work is carried out, within the national territory, through fraud or collection of any amount from the worker, or even failing to ensure conditions of their return to the place of origin. 2nd The penalty is increased from one sixth to one third if the victim is under eighteen years old, elderly, pregnant woman, indigenous or physically or mentally disabled.