Brazil is ranked fifth globally among those countries that have a formal system for hiring temporary workers. The retail sector has the most temporary workers due to special occasions such as Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day. Learn in this article what regulations govern temporary work generally, and the advantages and disadvantages for both companies and for the workers.
Temporary work can be defined as the provision of services rendered for a limited period of time by a private person for the benefit of a legal entity. Temporary workers are often hired to replace regular workers as needed, as in case of maternity leave, or when there is a high, but sudden demand, as is the case with shopping malls during the Christmas season.
Since the temporary worker is only utilized for a specific period of time, at the end of the agreed upon period, the employer can either dismiss the worker, hire the worker, or if permitted by law, extend the term of the temporary work. The relationship between the temporary worker and the company that retains him or her is managed by a third party; an employment agency. It should be noted that the temporary worker is not an employee of the company that needs the temporary help, but is instead an employee of the employment agency.
Brazilian law only permits the rendering of services by a temporary worker under the following circumstances, and only if all of the requirements are met:
- A written contract between the employment agency and the company requesting the services;
- The need for a temporary workforce must be justified;
- The salary to be paid to the worker must be stated in advance;
- The contract must clearly specify the term of the work, i.e. the period of time that the temporary worker will provide services to the company, and that term cannot exceed three months in duration. If the company wishes to extend the contract, the company must make a formal request in advance to the Ministry of Labor, and if granted, the extension cannot exceed six months.
Also, under Brazilian law, a contract for temporary work can only be used for:
- The rendering of services to meet a specific demand for a specified period of time (i.e. shopping malls that hire more staff during the Christmas season).
- Transitory (not on-going) company activities;
- A probation period of three months during which the employer can evaluate the employee, and, if necessary, dismiss him or her without having to pay the rights granted to CLT workers by law, such as notice and maternity leave (in the event that the employee became pregnant during this three month probation period).
People that oppose a temporary work system claim that the employers can take unfair advantage of the system, by creating a cheap workforce, and exempting themselves from paying applicable fees, and those benefits that are granted by law to regular employees.
Despite laws that forbid this practice, some companies nevertheless operate with only a temporary workforce, significantly reducing or even eliminating the costs of employee benefits and rights. For this reason, it is not unusual to hear of temporary workers who successfully sued the company they worked for, and were granted by law the right to be hired as regular employees.
According to the Assesttem (Associação Brasileira das Empresas de Serviços Terceirizáveis e de Trabalho Temporário) , which is the association responsible for temporary work in Brazil, only 15% of those temporary workers hired in December 2012 to meet the demands of the Christmas season, were ultimately hired as regular employees in 2013.
According to the ACSP (Associação Comercial de São Paulo), the São Paulo Commercial Association, out of the 150,000 temporary workers that were used in 2012, 70% were in the retail sector, while the remaining 30% were divided among other sectors, such as industry.