Brazil’s job market is similar to what you’ll find in other parts but with subtle differences. Here, Brazil’s Employment Law has undergone numerous reforms to regulate interactions between employers and employees, create a flexible work environment, and modernize labor laws. The new employment law offers excellent flexibility in working hours and clearly states the obligations of the employer and employee in this regard.

Before now, Brazil was renowned for numerous cases of contemporary poor work conditions and exhaustive working hours that ruined productivity. However, following these recent changes, Brazil has created a more competitive labor market that will reduce worker exploitation. So, how do the working hours in Brazil compare against global market trends? And how do these working hours affect employee work-life balance?

What Is the Working Time in Brazil?

According to Brazil Employment Law, the working time for employees is eight hours. These working hours in Brazil are usually between 8 or 9 am and 5 or 6 pm, including an hour for an unpaid break. However, a work week should be a maximum of 44 hours long, while an entire working month should not exceed 220 hours. A work week equals 8 hours daily from Monday to Friday and 4 hours if you work on Saturday. 

The employment law also mentions that employees are allowed to work overtime but with a limit of two hours per day. You’d note that Brazil has 12 national holidays, while each state may have a few unique holidays. 

Standard Work Hours vs. Market Trends in Brazil

While the New Employment Law is a step in the right direction, it makes sense to review how these new working hours compare against global market trends. It was noted that many developed countries boasted shorter working hours than their developing counterparts. According to information from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), these are the countries with the lowest average working hours based on a 2021 survey: 

  • Netherlands – 30.3 hours per week 
  • Denmark – 33.7 hours per week
  • Norway – 34.1 hours per week
  • Germany – 34.6 hours per week
  • Austria – 35.2 hours per week

However, these are the countries with the highest average working hours: 

  • Columbia – 47.8 hours per week
  • Mexico – 44.8 hours per week
  • Costa Rica – 44 hours per week
  • Chile 42.7 hours per week
  • Israel – 40.7 hours per week

While Brazil was not ranked on this list, it’s clear that it’ll fall among countries with the highest average working hours. Currently, employees in Brazil work 8 hours daily with the option of 2 hours overtime, equaling an estimate of 10 hours per day plus another 4 hours for weekend work. That’s 54 hours per week if you exhaust all available hours. 

While there’s a regulatory limit of 44 hours per week to avoid exhaustion, this 44-hour workweek is the reality for most workers, and it shows that Brazil still has plenty of work to do to match global trends in working hours. However, there are scenarios where certain employees may negotiate for more working hours. 

Legal Limits and Flexibility: Striking a Balance

As earlier emphasized, Brazil has switched to an 8-hour workday system with a 44-hour weekly limit. So, many businesses have had to change how they operate to compensate for these regulatory changes. 

One of the most noteworthy reforms to compensate for the Brazilian Employment Law was the setting of limits and tracking of working hours. Yes, employers are now expected to track how long their employees spend on duties. The monitoring of working hours is regulated by The Brazilian Consolidated Labor Laws (Consolidação das Leis do Trabalho or CLT) and the Brazil Federal Constitution. The CLT also allows employees to track their working hours.

Another reform designed to help businesses cope with the legal limit on Brazil’s working hours is the adoption of compressed work weeks. Hence, many small and medium enterprises opt for a 4-day workweek. This 4-day workweek has helped employees enjoy a better work life and may even influence a person’s preferred choice of employment. To compensate for the day off work, many enterprises have adopted a remote work system that also supports real-time interaction between departments. 

Rethinking Overtime: From Compensation to Work-Life Balance

If an employee has worked past the legal limit, he can be paid an overtime premium of at least 50% or 100% if the overtime falls on a holiday or weekly time off. The Brazil Employment Law stipulates that overtime is limited to two hours per day, aside from the regular eight working hours. The extra hours worked as overtime and the overtime premium will increase the employee’s monthly salary. As a result, this additional payment is subject to labor, employment, and social security charges. 

However, some employees may be exempt from overtime payment. They include external employees and those holding a position of trust. External employees are those who work outside the employer’s premises, thereby making it impossible for the employer to track their working hours. If there is an agreeable way of tracking employee work, overtime should be paid. The latest innovation in software technology now makes it possible for external employees and their respective employers to keep tabs on what they are up to, leading to significant overtime payments. 

On the other hand, employees with a position of trust must be assessed to determine if they qualify for overtime payment. These employees are those who have management positions or have the power to control, recruit, and fire other employees. Each employer must clearly define the line between regular employees and those holding positions of trust to avoid lawsuits on misclassified overtime payments. 

Further reading: Employee Benefits in Brazil and Leave Policies in Brazil

Night Work and Alternative Schedules: Adapting to Modern Needs

The Brazil Employment Law classifies activities between 10 pm and 5 am as night work. This law stipulates night time workers should be compensated more. Therefore, night-time workers should be paid at least 20% more than the daytime hourly rate. It’s common to find trade unions imposing higher hourly rates for night work. To avoid paying hefty hourly rates for night work, employers opt for incentives such as paid insurance and health plans, additional vacation days, and professional development opportunities. 

Embracing Flexibility: The Opt-Out and Sunday Work Evolution 

For most people who work six days a week, Sunday is an off day to spend with their families. However, with the opt-out option, it’s possible to create flexible working hours that may or may not include Sundays. The opt-out option allows employees to negotiate their work hours with employers directly. As a result, you can transfer your working hours to other days of the week, such as Sunday. 

To successfully adopt an opt-out, employers must be able to track employee operations. However, external workers or those holding positions of trust are exempt from tracking. 

The Impact of Flexible Work Hours on Business and Talent Attraction

Due to global trends, Brazilian employers are looking for new ways to create flexible schedules for their employees and streamline certain activities to reduce the time spent on them. Employers also adopt flexible labor laws to attract the best talent to work for them. It’s become an increasingly important deciding factor to help employees choose a new place of work. 

According to a poll by Brazilian corporate memes Instagram profile Festa da firma, 84% of 35,000 respondents would readily choose an employer with a shorter workweek than a traditional workweek. Another poll with 282 respondents indicated that 58% of respondents stated that the extra day off work could be an essential deciding element when choosing an employer.

One of the first companies to implement a 4-day workweek in Brazil was Zee Dog. This arrangement was adopted after the COVID-19 lockdown to cope with the new realities of the post-pandemic era. While there were difficulties initially, Zee Dog’s shorter workweek arrangement led to more productivity and improved self-management. Another company renowned for adopting the 4-day week is Winnin. They reported challenges at the initial stages, but the positive results were evident in the long term. 

Further reading: Hiring Remote Employees in Brazil and How to Hire Independent Contractors in Brazil

Meeting Employee Expectations: PTO, Flex Hours and Beyond

Today, the demands of Brazilian employees have changed as they demand a fairer and more competitive work environment, especially those who have worked in international markets. These Brazilian employees demand better-working terms such as a 13th-month salary, social security benefits, vacations, pension, maternity and paternity leave, and sick days. To cope with these new demands, employers can create a suite of benefits to be advertized to job seekers. 

FAQs

In Brazil, the legal maximum work hours are 44 hours per week, typically divided into 8 hours per day, Monday to Friday. Overtime may be required by law or agreed upon in employment contracts but is limited to a maximum of 2 hours per day, with a cap of 10 hours of overtime per week.

Brazilian labor laws are governed by the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT) and other supplementary regulations. These laws cover various aspects of employment, including working hours, minimum wage, vacation entitlements, and employee benefits. Employers must adhere to these laws to ensure fair treatment and protection for workers.

Lunchtime in Brazil typically falls between 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM, depending on individual work schedules and regional customs. Many businesses and offices observe a lunch break lasting around one hour, allowing employees to rest and recharge before resuming work in the afternoon.

While Saturday is considered a regular business day in Brazil, the standard workweek is Monday to Friday. Some businesses may operate on Saturdays, particularly in sectors such as retail, hospitality, and healthcare. However, Saturday is not a mandatory workday for all employees, and work on Saturdays may be subject to specific agreements or contractual terms.

Author avatar
Article author
Vit Koval
Co-founder at Globy
A top Global Hiring voice on LinkedIn, co-founder of Globy, and host of Default Global. Using deep expertise in global hiring, remote work, and global business expansion to help companies excel worldwide with innovative strategies.