Brazil changes maternity leave for mothers of premature babies – a step to a fairer and more humane scenario of the labour market for all women.

An interview with Denise Leao Suguitani

Brazil: The maternity leave for mothers of premature babies is extended. Last month Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal decided to prolong the period of maternity leave for mothers of premature infants. We talked to Denise Leao Suguitani, founder and executive director  of GLANCE partner parent organisation Brazilian Parents of Preemies’ Association (, member of the GLANCE advisory board, about this important adjustment in Brazilian law.

1. Ms Suguitani, Brazil took another big step to strengthening maternal rights. What brought this change to come?

We, the organized civil society, were finally able to raise awareness for the Brazilian Governments about the challenges prematurity brings along. It seems they have understood the essentiality of protecting motherhood and childhood, especially for more delicate babies like the premature ones. Although the decision is valid only for mothers working on a formal contract, it is a huge step towards a fairer and more humane scenario of the labour market for all women.

2. Ms Suguitani, your parent organisation spoke to the lawyers who placed the injunction that was eventually approved. What changes for mothers of premature babies in Brazil from now on?

Women in the workforce in Brazil have 120 days of standard maternity leave, which begins on the day of the delivery. From now on, mothers of premature babies can require a new beginning of maternity leave, if their baby needs to be in the hospital for more than two weeks. Once the baby is discharged, the maternity leave with its 120 days starts anew – regardless of how long the baby had to stay in hospital.

3. The initial decision of Minister Fachin was valid until the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court plenary confirmed the new law, on April 3rd. How do you assess that victory in the Court?

We were really optimistic that the injunction would not be overturned since we have been working for the approval of this law for over 5 years now, dialoguing with politicians and decision makers. It is such a great achievement for the cause of prematurity in our country and a big step for our society.

Ms Suguitani, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.