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Employment Laws in Brazil

Updated on:
16 Jan, 2024
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Recognizing Brazil as a powerhouse of tech talent is increasingly becoming a strategic move for many tech businesses globally. Not only does this nation offer a rich pool of diverse and skilled tech talents, but the well-structured employment laws also facilitate a conducive working environment. Understanding Brazilian employment laws is crucial to harness this opportunity successfully. It ensures the rights and obligations of both employers and employees are upheld, promoting a harmonious work culture and supporting business growth.

Main Sources of Employment Law

Employment laws in Brazil are a combination of various legal sources that collectively structure the Brazilian labor framework. The system is constructed to provide a safe and fair environment for both employers and employees, thus, maintaining a healthy employment relationship.

The Brazilian Constitution

The Brazilian Constitution acts as the cornerstone of all legal activities in Brazil, including employment. The nation's federal constitution, The Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil, governs the basic institutions of the state and the rule of law, the legal status of international obligations and the fundamental rights and principles of the Brazilian state policies. It provides stipulations and promotes non-discrimination and gender equality, amongst other fundamental rights in the country. Other provisions related to the environment, biodiversity and the protection of indigenous rights are covered by the constitution.

Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT)

Next in line of importance is the Consolidation of Labor Laws, also known as CLT. Enacted in 1943, the CLT is a comprehensive legal code that covers detailed aspects of employment relationships in Brazil. This includes stipulations on working hours, employee salary, vacation time, termination, and health and safety regulations, amongst other things. Employers must be aware of these specifications to avoid missteps and should be wary of common legal troubles that may occur in global businesses.

Supplementary Legal Codes and Federal Laws

Apart from the Constitution and CLT, the labor legal framework in Brazil also includes various other legal codes and Federal Laws. The Civil, Penal, and Commercial Codes provide rules and regulations on a myriad of issues relevant to employment relations, such as contracts, labor obligations, and liability.

Additionally, Federal Laws offer more specific regulations on areas like health and safety at work, taxation, and social security. One critical federal law, for instance, is the law on safety and health at work, which mandates employers to provide a risk-free work environment, thereby contributing towards a safer workspace.

Collective Bargaining Agreements and Conventions

The collective bargaining agreement is regarded as highly as the Brazilian labor law that demands employers to comply with its provisions. Typically, a collective bargaining agreement occurs at the industry level in a state or some regions. Understanding these is crucial for businesses that want to avoid HR compliance mistakes.

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Collective Bargaining Agreements

The Collective bargaining agreement is a pivotal feature of Brazil's labor law system. These collective bargaining agreements offer an avenue for employers and trade unions or representatives of a specific group of workers to discuss and negotiate employment conditions tailored to the unique needs of the workforce.

The Role of Collective Bargaining Agreements

Collective bargaining agreements operate on two primary levels, sectorial and company-specific. At a sectorial level, these agreements cater to a broader category of workers, like an entire industry or profession. On the other hand, company-specific agreements are tailored to the conditions within a specific organization.

Through this arrangement, workers can negotiate terms related to wages, working hours, health and safety measures, and various other work conditions. The collective bargaining agreements provide a platform where workers can exercise their collective strength to improve their working conditions and remuneration.

The Legal Framework

Collective bargaining agreements are protected under the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT) and the Brazilian Constitution. These legal documents uphold the rights of workers to organize and negotiate better terms of employment relationships.

In Brazil, these agreements, sometimes called collective agreements, have a legal force that supersedes individual employment agreements, meaning they can establish benefits and rights that are more advantageous to employees than those set out in individual contracts. Therefore, these agreements can significantly influence the conditions of employment. They set a beneficial precedent that can also be applied to the hiring and managing of remote workers, which is particularly relevant for tech talents seeking work opportunities beyond borders.

The Necessity for Employers

For employers, being part of collective bargaining negotiations is a strategic move. It allows companies to understand and align with their employees' economic or professional interests, fostering a harmonious and more productive work environment and employment relationship. This proactive engagement can help prevent potential legal troubles and safeguard the company's reputation.

In addition, collective bargaining agreements help employers in shaping clear, comprehensive, and fair employment agreements. They provide a framework that helps to avoid misunderstandings and disputes and ensures compliance with Brazil's employment laws, preventing HR compliance mistakes.

Employment Agreements in Brazil

Employment agreements form the backbone of an employment relationship in Brazil. They provide a comprehensive guideline of the obligations and expectations of both parties during the employment relationship tenure.

What Constitutes An Employment Agreement

In the Brazilian context, an employment agreement, also known as an employment contract, is generally an agreement between the employer and employee where the latter agrees to perform certain services under the former's direction. While it is not mandatory to have a written employment contract for all employees, it is often beneficial to do so to provide clarity and protect the rights of both parties, including securing the employee data as per data protection regulations under the law in Brazil.

Importantly, the employee's salary, including the monthly salary, is one of the key aspects outlined in these agreements. The Brazilian federal constitution and the Ministry of Labour provide regulatory guidance and enforce labor obligations that both parties must respect.

An employment agreement usually covers key aspects such as the job description, remuneration, working hours, and the rights and obligations of both parties. More on the contents and format of an employment agreement can be found in this sample letter of agreement between employer and employee.

Types of Employment Agreements

There are various types of employment agreements in Brazil, reflecting the diverse nature of employment relationships. These include:

  • Definite Term Agreement: These are agreements with a specific duration, usually not exceeding up to two years.
  • Open-ended/Indefinite term agreements: This is the most common form of employment agreement in Brazil. According to the Labor Code, an open-ended or indefinite term begins when there is no stipulated expiration period for the end of the employment relationship. In this type of employment agreement, termination occurs by mutual agreement, breach of the employment contract, or death.
  • Part-Time Agreement: For workers employed for less than 26 hours per week.
  • Intermittent Work Agreement: This relatively new addition allows for intermittent and flexible working hours.
  • Telework Agreement: This is particularly relevant to tech talents working remotely or in distributed teams. More about the legal and tax aspects of remote work can be found here.

Legal Protections and Penalties

Employers should be aware of the importance of properly classifying their employees in employment agreements. Misclassification can lead to significant penalties, as detailed here. Also, employers must understand that employment agreements must respect the minimum employment terms set by Brazilian labor law and the federal constitution.

Minimum Employment Terms

Navigating through the intricacies of employment terms is a crucial step in establishing a successful working relationship in Brazil. The country's labor laws set forth specific minimum conditions that must be met to ensure a fair and balanced employment environment. These include several pivotal aspects such as work hours, national minimum wage, overtime, and bonus pay.

Maximum Work Hours and Overtime

Brazilian employment laws advocate for a maximum 44-hour workweek, typically divided into eight hours from Monday to Friday and four hours on Saturday. Employers may, however, opt for a 40-hour workweek without reducing employees' monthly salary.

In case of necessary extra work, employers should account for overtime. The Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT) stipulates that overtime should not exceed two hours per day and must be compensated at least 50% more than the regular hourly rate, thereby increasing the monthly salary.

Minimum Wage

A key aspect of Brazil's employment law is the provision of a national minimum wage. This is periodically revised by the government, considering the cost of living, ensuring that the income of workers meets their basic needs. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the minimum wage was BRL 1,100.00 per month. For updated figures, you may need to check Brazil's official government sites.

Bonus Pay – The 13th Salary

Brazilian labor law incorporates an annual bonus known as the 13th salary. Essentially, this is an extra month's salary that is typically paid at the end of the year, further enhancing the financial stability of employees. This additional wage serves to stimulate the economy and provide workers with extra income for holiday expenses.

While understanding these employment terms, businesses must ensure that they do not misclassify their employees as independent contractors, as this could lead to severe legal repercussions. Accurate classification is essential to uphold the rights of workers and to prevent possible violations of labor laws. Misclassification not only infringes upon workers' rights but can also lead to potential lawsuits and damage to the company's reputation.

Leave Policies

Brazilian labor legislation ensures that employees have access to a range of leave benefits, demonstrating a strong commitment to employee well-being and work-life balance. The ability to take leave when necessary is not only an important right for employees, but it also contributes to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

Annual Leave

Brazilian law provides for 30 days of annual leave for employees after one year of service. This annual leave allows employees to rest and rejuvenate, ultimately contributing to increased productivity when they return to work.

Maternity and Paternity Leave

Brazil's employment law recognizes the importance of family and provides for both maternity and paternity leave.

Maternity leave in Brazil is especially noteworthy. Pregnant employees are entitled to 120 days of paid maternity leave, which can commence up to 28 days before the expected date of birth.

Paternity leave, on the other hand, is shorter, standing at 5 days. This leave can be taken within the first month following the birth or adoption of a child.

These provisions support parents in the critical early days of a child's life, promoting family bonds and contributing to the overall well-being of the child and parents alike.

Sick Leave

Sick leave in Brazil is granted for employees who are unable to perform their duties due to illness or injury. The  Brazilian public healthcare system, which provides free healthcare services, supports employees during this period. The duration of sick leave varies depending on the nature and severity of the illness or injury, with the employee's salary being covered by social security after a certain period.

Leave for Special Circumstances

In addition to the above, Brazilian employment law also provides leave for special circumstances, including marriage leave (3 days), bereavement leave (2 days), and leave for donating blood (1 day).

In the context of a globalized workforce, it's essential for tech talents working remotely and companies building distributed teams to understand these leave policies. Not only do they significantly influence employee satisfaction and retention, but they also play a critical role in avoiding potential legal troubles and HR compliance mistakes.

Workplace Harassment and Discrimination

In Brazil, the commitment to creating a respectful and secure work environment is unambiguous. The employment laws encompass robust protections against any form of workplace harassment and discrimination. This commitment is particularly vital for remote tech teams that are often characterized by diversity.

Understanding Harassment and Discrimination

Workplace harassment can take various forms, including sexual harassment, psychological torment, or even cyberbullying - an aspect of growing concern in the remote work setup. Discrimination, on the other hand, involves unfair treatment based on the employee's gender, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, or other protected characteristics.

Such actions can significantly impact employees' morale, productivity, and overall job satisfaction, creating hurdles in the path of business growth.

The Role of the Employer

Employers play a crucial role in curbing workplace harassment and discrimination. Brazilian law mandates employers to establish clear policies that define, prohibit, and stipulate measures to deal with such instances.

Employers must ensure their policies and procedures align with the relevant laws to protect their employees and themselves from potential legal troubles.

Effective measures could include:

  • Regular training sessions on workplace etiquette and behavior.
  • Creating a clear, easily accessible reporting mechanism.
  • Ensuring fair and swift investigation of any reported incident.
  • Taking prompt corrective action against the harasser, if the claims are substantiated.

Cultivating an Inclusive Work Environment

Cultivating a respectful and inclusive work environment goes beyond just compliance with the laws. It also means valuing the different experiences and perspectives of your diverse team members.

In the context of remote work, this involves conscious efforts to bridge the physical distance and technology gaps, creating an environment where all employees feel valued and supported, regardless of their location.

Companies should be mindful of potential HR compliance mistakes that can inadvertently lead to a sense of exclusion or unfair treatment among remote employees.

Termination of Employment

Brazil's employment law ensures both employers and employees are protected during the termination process. Whether you are an employee considering leaving your position, or an employer contemplating terminating a contract, understanding the guidelines for termination is crucial.

Notice Period

In Brazil, the notice period is determined by the length of the employee's service. For employees who have served for more than one year, the employer is obligated to provide a 30-day notice. An additional three days of notice is added for every year of service beyond the first year.

Employees are also required to give notice if they decide to leave their jobs. The length of the notice period is the same as that required of employers. This is essential in maintaining transparency and enabling both parties to prepare adequately for the change.

Severance Pay

On termination, employees in Brazil are entitled to severance pay, which may include:

  • A pro-rata share of the 13th salary for the year
  • Any outstanding annual leave
  • A 40% fine over the total deposited in the employee's "FGTS" (a fund established for workers as a form of saving for the future) during the contractual period.

Severance payments must be made promptly, and failure to do so could lead to significant legal troubles. Companies considering terminating employment contracts should ensure they are fully prepared to meet these financial obligations to avoid penalties.

Rights of Remote Employees

With an increasing number of employees working remotely, it's crucial to understand the rights of remote employees during the termination process. Brazil recognizes the rights of remote employees to the same extent as those working on-site. Therefore, companies must carefully consider the legal and tax implications of terminating a remote employee's contract.

Moreover, if your organization is considering building a remote or distributed team, it is imperative to fully understand the complexities of global employment laws and avoid common HR compliance mistakes. This is an essential step toward building a resilient and future-proof organization.

Ensure Compliance in Brazil with Skuad

Complying with employment laws in Brazil, or in any country, is not a mere obligation; it is a significant contributing factor to the success of a business. It ensures smooth operation, fosters a healthy work environment, and ultimately promotes growth. For businesses targeting tech talent in Brazil, understanding these regulations becomes even more crucial.

However, navigating through the complexities of different employment laws, especially when dealing with remote or distributed teams, can be daunting. This is where Skuad steps in. As a global employment and payroll platform, Skuad makes it easier for organizations to hire, onboard, and manage contractors and employees across over 160 countries, including Brazil, compliantly.

With Skuad, you do not have to worry about legal risks and potential fines that come with non-compliance. Skuad ensures your organization is fully compliant with country-specific laws and regulations. By doing this, Skuad not only helps protect your business from legal pitfalls but also contributes to establishing compliance as an integral part of your corporate identity.

Whether you're hiring your first remote employee or building a distributed team, Skuad can help ensure your business remains compliant, secure, and well-poised for growth. To learn more about how Skuad can support your business in navigating the world of global employment laws and compliance, talk to Skuad experts today. Navigating the employment landscape does not have to be challenging - with Skuad, you're in safe hands.

FAQs

Does Brazil have at-will employment?

Yes, employment in Brazil is at-will. What this means is that employers have the right to terminate an employee without cause provided a notice period and severance pay is provided to the employee. However, if an employer terminates an employee without notice or severance pay provisions, the employer will require a just cause for the termination to be valid.

What is the minimum wage in Brazil?

The minimum wage in Brazil is fixed at 1320 BRL per month (approximately 268 USD).

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EOR in 
Brazil
Monthly
best value
Annually
Pay monthly at a discounted rate with a 12-month commitment
$
199
/month
(billed annually)
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Employ contractors and employees in 160+ countries

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limited-offer-banner
EOR in 
Brazil
Monthly
$
249
/month
(billed annually)
Annually
Pay monthly at a discounted rate with a 12-month commitment
$
199
/month
(billed monthly)
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Employ contractors and employees in 160+ countries

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Table of Content

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