National Health Agency Resolution 279 establishes rules for maintaining corporate healthcare plans for former employees laid off or dismissed without just cause and for retirees. The resolution has been responsible for a decline in the number of actions brought in the labour courts by officials questioning payment of the full value of the plan and makes the obligations of companies clearer.
The impact of social networking on labour relations is a relatively new subject in labour court decisions. As there is no legislation regulating the use of the Internet in Brazil, decisions tend to analyse the matter in relation to the constitutional right to privacy. The Superior Labour Court recently upheld a termination for cause in a case involving a nurse who had posted inappropriate photographs online.
The world is becoming hot, flat and crowded - an issue that is of increasing concern for maintaining the health and safety of workers worldwide. Workers must deal with the fear and stress associated with downsizing production and changing work schedules. Employers in Brazil should be aware of the key issues in occupational health and safety and the effects of social security laws on their workforce.
There has been much debate over the extent of employers' social responsibility. Companies are being urged to increase their level of commitment towards the communities where they operate if problems arise. An employer's role is deemed to go beyond merely paying salaries punctually; it also comprises joint responsibility for employees' quality of life and for social issues.
Allowing employees to work from home can present benefits to both employers and employees, but the same technological advancements that allow employees to work from home represent a risk to employers' liability with regard to payment of overtime. Companies looking into allowing employees to work from home should therefore either effectively monitor working hours or evaluate performance by an alternative means.
The National Congress recently passed a bill to regulate the provision in which it finally set forth the criteria for calculating the proportionality between time of service and the length of the prior notice for termination. It is hoped that this bill will be the first step of a broader labour reform aimed at modernising the labour law system, and that it will spark a wide and rational discussion among the parties in the labour scenario.
The federal government and the Ministry of Development, Industry and Commerce recently launched the Plano Brasil Maior, a set of measures destined to reduce the tax burden of certain industry sectors. A key measure established in the plan is the reduction of the rate of employer social security contributions. The government hopes that the move will attract foreign investors and expand local manufacturing activities.
The labour courts have recently taken an additional step towards the recognition of arbitration as a means of resolving individual labour conflicts. In ruling on an appeal in which the validity and effects of an arbitration award were discussed, the Superior Labour Court held that the enforcement of arbitration clauses in individual labour contracts was acceptable.
The rise of social media has triggered a re-evaluation of Brazilian labour laws, as employees log on using workplace systems and company equipment in ever greater numbers. Employers must consider how the use of social media fits within the Brazilian legal environment, which is traditionally pro-employee, and whether their existing internal policies provide sufficient protection.
Judges from the Superior Labour Court recently met to discuss controversial and relevant issues for work relations in Brazil. One of the main topics under consideration was outsourcing, with both employers and employees hopeful that the discussion would bring a decisive conclusion through which the problems of outsourcing would be solved once and for all. Instead, for now, uncertainty remains the rule.
The liability of employers for damages resulting from employment-related accidents has been widely debated in labour courts during the past few years. Since the enactment of the new Civil Code in 2002, discussion has focused on the standard of liability that judges should apply when determining whether an employee who suffered damages resulting from a work-related accident is entitled to be indemnified.
In recent years, companies that repeatedly ask their employees to work overtime hours in excess of the statutory limits have faced class actions demanding compensation for overtime (if filed by a union) or the cessation of excessive overtime and penalties for collective damages (if filed by the Labour Public Attorney's Office). However, there may be a new trend of class actions on the horizon.
In recent years, executive compensation has become a controversial topic in the corporate governance arena. For example, executive compensation has played a significant role in the ruin of large private banks and automobile companies. Since then, boards of directors have been paying special attention when drafting payment plans for the corporation's top-ranked employees.
It used to be understood that an employment contract was formed only when the employee began effectively to render services to his or her employer. However, there is no doubt that the pre-screening process is part of the pre-contractual stage of an employment agreement, and that, for this reason, both parties are under obligations to comply with the principles and rules of labour law.
Employers are often concerned about the legal implications of granting free parking spaces to their employees and the risks of removing such benefit. Contrary to expectations raised by the highly regulated Brazilian employment system, there is no express statutory regulation regarding the grant of free parking spaces as an employment benefit.
The Superior Labour Court recently confirmed that the acquirer of a spin-off company will not be jointly liable for company employees towards the vendor, as long as the vendor remains solvent and actively in business at the moment of the transaction. The acquirer will be jointly liable towards the vendor if the spin-off is fraudulent - that is, if the original company does not continue as a genuine business.
Since the Supreme Court ruled that the Arbitration Law is not unconstitutional, there has been steady growth in the use of arbitration to resolve disputes involving civil and commercial matters. However, this trend has not continued with regard to labour disputes because of the general understanding that labour rights are not disposable and, as a consequence, cannot be arbitrated.
Under Article 7(XVIII) of the Federal Constitution and Article 392 of the Labour Code, all female employees, regardless of their length of service, are entitled to 120 days of paid maternity leave. However, since January 1 2010, all private companies that apply for inclusion in the Corporate Citizen Programme can increase their offered maternity leave period by a further 60 days.
The Mendes Junior Act aims to protect Brazilian employees working temporarily abroad. To protect transferred employees, the act makes the labour legislation partially applicable to employees working abroad. This is unique given that Precedent 207 of the Labour Court states that the laws of the country where the employee is working are applicable.
The Labour Ministry recently issued Annex II of Rule 30, introducing specific provisions for activities carried out on oil rigs. Annex II establishes minimum requirements for health and safety conditions for offshore workers and upholds the right of offshore workers to be informed about existing risks in the workplace that may endanger their health or safety.