A 4-day week in Brazil: does it work? What are the legal implications?

A 4-day week in Brazil: does it work?  What are the legal implications?

Since September, many companies have adhered to the four-day work week in Brazil. The project, initiated by UK-based 4 Day Week Global, suggests companies adopt shorter working days to increase employee comfort, and thus also increase their preparedness.

The model is 100-80-100™: pay 100%, work 80% of the time, stay productive 100%. However, the application of this model raises doubts among managers, especially regarding legal and labor issues. One of these questions concerns daily working hours. How are they doing?

Lawyer Rodrigo Abreu, from the Lima Neto office, explains that the calculation of working hours must be done by individual agreement between the worker and the company. In Brazil, many companies operate 44 hours a week. When it comes to reducing the number of days, the company that will undertake the project needs to calculate the most viable option: either reducing the weekly working hours to 36 hours, for example, maintaining an average of 8 hours per day, or increasing the number of working hours. Daily hours to achieve the weekly calculation (which is not the 4-day week suggestion).

Remember that Brazilian legislation does not talk about reducing working hours, but rather imposes limits on daily and weekly working hours. According to the law, only an increase of 2 hours per day is allowed in the working day, which amounts to a total of 40 hours per week (taking into account an 8-hour working day).

“This reduction in working hours from 44 hours to 36 or 40 hours per week, depending on the daily working hours, can even be done by individual agreement between the worker and the company, as long as the employee’s wage is maintained,” he says. “If the company has doubts about the practical feasibility of this reduction, it is better for this temporary reduction to be done through an agreement with the union, to make it clear that this is a trial period,” advises Abreu.

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What precautions should you take before adopting the model?

Rodrigo Abreu explains that these calculations must be carefully thought through before testing the model so that everyone leaves the experience satisfied. “The company has to be very careful not to create a payroll problem,” he says. “Imagine two employees who today have 44 hours a day, do the same activities and earn the same salary. If only one of them is given a reduction in work hours, that employee will receive a proportional increase in the value of his/her salary. He explains that the salaried employee For 44 hours of work, he will receive the same amount as the employee whose working hours were reduced to 40 or 36 hours, depending on the size of this reduction.

The lawyer is also advised to evaluate the financial feasibility of this reduction. “There is no proportional reduction in the cost of labor, as workers’ wages cannot be reduced. The company will have to evaluate whether this reduction in working hours will be compensated for by an increase in productivity. This is a very important aspect!”, he says.

4 days a week

The four-day week aims to encourage companies and employees to build a new way of working. The idea is to improve business productivity and worker health outcomes, as well as address the issue of gender equality and suggest a more sustainable way of working. In Brazil, the pilot is implemented by Reconnect Happiness at Work in partnership with 4 Day Week Global and Boston College, and began in September 2023.

The proposal has already been tested in the United Kingdom with the following results, according to the organization:

  • 92% of businesses will continue with a 4-day week
  • 39% of employees felt less stressed
  • 71% reduction in fatigue symptoms
  • 54% found it easier to balance personal and professional life
  • 1.4% increase in revenues
  • Compared to the same period in previous years, revenues increased by 35%
  • Trading value decreased by 57% during the trial period
  • 15% of participating employees said that any salary increase would not make them return to a 5-day workweek
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About the Author: Camelia Kirk

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