When the labour reform came into force, it amended the provision requiring employees to pay annual contributions to relevant unions, instead making union contributions optional. After the reform was enacted, more than 15,000 lawsuits were filed to challenge union contribution-related matters. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the end of mandatory union contributions was constitutional.
In Brazil, employees who work overtime are entitled to statutory premium pay at one-and-one-half times the regular rate. In the past, the courts often voided compensatory time off agreements and granted overtime payment claims to employees on the grounds that their employer had failed to comply with legal requirements. However, the 2017 labour reform introduced more flexible requirements, which should curb litigation on compensatory time off agreements and encourage their use.
The Supreme Court recently rendered two decisions on labour and employment matters that may be understood as the beginning of the reforms promised by Brazil's new president. The cases centred on employees' right to expenses for commuting to and from work and Brazil's working hours regime. These first steps by the Supreme Court are a positive sign of what is to come in the near future.
Provisional Measure 680 – which launched the Employment Protection Plan (EPP) – has finally entered into force. Under the new law, companies now have until December 31 2016 to participate in the plan. The EPP seeks to protect formal jobs and encourage negotiations between employers and employees.
A national anti-bullying programme was recently introduced by Law 13,185. The programme provides a framework for creating, developing and disseminating policies to counter bullying. Employers must consider how to address these issues – in particular, when bullying occurs outside the workplace, as seems to be the case with most cyberbullying.
Provisional Measure 664/2014 was recently converted into Law 13.135, which introduced new conditions and measures. For example, under the provisional measure, an employee had to be injured or ill for a minimum of 30 days before claiming continuous pay; the new law has reduced that period to 15 days. Further, the law has increased a spouse's pension entitlement to 100% of the deceased person's retirement salary.
The Supreme Court recently suspended the effects of the Superior Labour Court's decision which made the Special Extended Consumer Price Index the applicable index to adjust outstanding labour-related debts. Further, the period for which an employee must be unable to work before he or she can claim continuous pay has been reduced to 15 days. Finally, the 'dirty' list (ie, a list of companies with employees working in conditions akin to slavery) has been reinstated.
The Supreme Court recently issued a preliminary injunction granting the Civil Court of Children and Youth the power to issue entertainment work permits to minors. The injunction was granted based on the Supreme Court's understanding that although all labour matters should be decided by the labour courts, the issue of work permits to minors is a civil matter, as it is considered a voluntary procedure.
Companies involved in labour suits were taken by surprise by a recent Superior Labour Court ruling on an incidental proceeding challenging the constitutionality of the index used to adjust outstanding labour-related debts. In its ruling, the court held that labour debts must be adjusted based on the Special Extended Consumer Price Index and rejected the use of the referential rate to adjust such debts.
The government recently launched the Employment Protection Plan, which allows companies in crisis to reduce employees' working hours – and proportionally, their salaries – by up to 30% for up to 12 months. Its success will depend on how optimistic companies are in relation to when their crisis is likely to end and whether they will be able to adhere to all related obligations.
Changes to Brazil's outsourcing rules are expected following the House of Representatives' recent approval of a new draft law. In contrast to the existing provisions on outsourcing, the draft law would allow any part of a company's business to be outsourced, rather than only non-core activities as at present. Companies hope that the new law will make outsourcing less bureaucratic and more unrestricted.
The Superior Court recently approved a collective preliminary injunction to suspend the terms of Ordinance 540/2004 that partially regulated the Ministry of Labour and Employment's 'dirty' list, which contained all employers found to have employees working in conditions akin to slavery. As such, two important public banks recently resumed the financing of employers that were on the dirty list.
The government recently amended the rules on guaranteed pay and unemployment insurance. The first measure extends the period for which an employee must be unable to work due to a work-related illness or injury before he or she can make a claim to receive one year of continuous pay. The second sets forth a regressive grace period before employees can claim unemployment insurance.
A new Ministry of Labour resolution allows parties to enter into temporary employment contracts for terms longer than three months, permitting temporary employment contracts to be extended for an additional six months. Companies must not only comply with temporary employment law and the new resolution, but also monitor the way in which temporary workers are terminated in order to avoid any repercussions.
Amid press reports of alarm over the number of work permits for children under 14 issued by minor courts, a broad discussion recently took place with the aim of defining, among other issues, the courts' competence for issuing work permits to minors. This is now returning to the labour courts, instead of being the responsibility of the common justice courts.
The highest body of the Superior Labour Court recently issued a decision that broadens the construction of the Labour Code provisions on transfer allowances. Companies should therefore review their practices on a case-by-case basis and reconsider their policies for transfers of employees to other workplaces in order to prevent controversies in future.
The Ministry of Culture recently introduced the cultural voucher, an employee benefit that seeks to stimulate worker interest in cultural endeavours. Employers are not obliged to provide the benefit (which amounts to R50 each month), but those that wish to do so must sign up for the ministry's Workers' Cultural Programme and comply with all provisions of the law.
The new Anti-corruption Law, which provides penalties against legal entities in the event of corruption, was recently issued. The strict law has substantial ramifications for employee relations, given the potential administrative and civil liability of legal entities. Where the authors of alleged crimes are managers and employees, the existence of internal mechanisms and procedures will be taken into account when applying penalties.
A new law was recently enacted to amend the legal regime governing employee profit sharing. The primary change introduced by the new law is the replacement of employee committees with parity committees in negotiations for the granting of profit sharing. Other changes affect information requests, health and safety criteria, payment schedules, arbitration and effectiveness. A limited income tax exemption has also been introduced.
A new decree regulating the exploitation of ports in Brazil is expected to become law shortly. The aim is to optimise sea freight, reduce the average time for operations and increase competitiveness. The changes brought by the new decree cover a number of issues involving port workers; trade unions have argued that it will threaten labour rights and grant privileges for privatisation.
A new regime governing the retirement of disabled persons will enter into force in November 2013. The new legislation acknowledges the right of disabled persons to retire and defines the term 'disability'. Further, it lays out the criteria for retirement and the method by which a retired insured disabled person's monthly income is calculated. The government will issue an implementing regulation to facilitate compliance.
Congress has passed a constitutional amendment extending to persons who work in homes ('domestic employees') a number of rights protected by the Federal Constitution, including compliance with minimum wage requirements and rights to maternity and paternity leave. While it is too early to predict the impact of these new laws on domestic workers, labour costs are certain to rise.
The rise in the use of IT systems in Brazil has led to repercussions for employers, in particular in relation to monitoring those who use the Internet for leisure activities while at work (eg, sending private emails or visiting online social networking sites). A number of tools exist to protect employers from the risks that arise as a result of employee use of technology in the workplace.
In November 2017 the new Immigration Law, which is regulated by Decree 9199/2017, came into force. Later in the year, the Brazilian Immigration Council issued Resolution 6/2017 in order to align its policies with the Immigration Law. By introducing the new resolution and the changes to the guidelines set out in the regulatory decree, the Immigration Council has amended the rights of immigrants who work on board foreign vessels or platforms in Brazil.