Brazil: Labor Ministry Relaxes Rules for Companies to Operate on Sundays and Holidays

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By Ed Taylor

July 20—Brazil’s labor ministry issued an ordinance July 8 that eases the restrictions on companies seeking to operate on Sundays and holidays.

Under a 1949 law, only a handful of specified sectors have automatic permission to operate on Sundays and holidays, including hotels, restaurants, hospitals and utilities. Companies in other sectors until now have had to receive approval from labor unions and authorization from the labor ministry.

Under Ordinance 945, union approval is now enough.

One Stop

According to attorney Dania Fiorin Lomnghi of the law firm Fiorin Longhi Attorneys, this means that companies will no longer have to provide the ministry with a document justifying the necessity to remain open on these days, proof of union approval and a schedule on the rotation of employees.

Once the relevant unions approve Sunday and holiday work schedules, companies need only register this directly with regional offices of the ministry without providing additional documentation.

In some cases, the new regulation also permits ministry authorization without union approval.

Major Improvement

For attorney Daniel Chiode of the firm Engelberg Moraes Attorneys, the ordinance is a major improvement for companies that deal with unions opposed to Sunday and holiday work under any circumstances.

Chiode told Bloomberg BNA that he represents six companies whose unions have rejected work on these days, but under the new regulation he will be able to ask for the ministry’s authorization without union approval.

Allowing companies to negotiate union approval without the involvement of the ministry eliminates another bureaucratic barrier.

According to labor consultant Luciano Nutti, the ministry now requires a document attesting to union approval, which can in some cases be denied.

“The union knows better the reality of its market,” said Nutti.

To register union agreement under the new ordinance, companies must define the time period covered and ensure that rules on employee safety and health will be respected.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ed Taylor in Rio de Janeiro at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

Text of the new ordinance is available in Portuguese at http://www.normaslegais.com.br/legislacao/Portaria-mte-945-2015.htm.

For more information on Brazilian HR law and regulation, see the Brazil primer.