4-day week can reach Brazil by collective bargaining

In various corners of the world, employees from different sectors are already experiencing a novelty that could become the future of work: the four-day workweek. United Kingdom, Belgium, Scotland, Spain, Japan, Iceland and the United Arab Emirates are some of the nations where this idea has been put into practice.

home office during a pandemic blurred boundaries between personal and professional life

And what about Brazil? Here, this innovation still seems far from becoming a trend, but there are no legal impediments to this happening.

It is not news that the debate around the reduction of working hours has gained momentum with the health crisis caused by Covid-19. With social isolation and the consequent mass adoption of home office, the boundaries between work and personal life have become increasingly blurred.

Exhausting journeys have provoked an avalanche of cases of Burnout syndrome, an emotional disorder that causes stress and physical exhaustion. And, according to International Stress Management Association (ISMA-BR), Brazil is the second country with the highest number of workers affected by the disease.

Naturally, the debate about reducing the week to four working days is one of the consequences of this reality. In an article published by ConJurthe specialists in Labor Law Ricardo Calcini and Leandro Bocchi de Moraes addressed the topic. They recalled that the Constitution sets the limit on working hours at eight hours a day and 44 hours a week, a number higher than the 40 hours recommended by the International Labor Organization.

no hindrance
Discreetly, some Brazilian companies have already started to test the model. From a normative point of view, experts consulted by the ConJur explain that there is no impediment, but some care must be taken. that’s what it says Rogério da Silva, partner at Paguetti & Silva Advogados. He maintains that the potential legal problems of adopting this model lie precisely in the way in which it will be implemented.

“Extending a daily shift to 11 or 12 hours, so that you have a four-day working week, can have the opposite effect and harm the health of the worker.” He also recalls that the CLT, in its article 59, limits the extension of the daily journey to just two hours by individual agreement, collective agreement or collective bargaining agreement.

collective path

Gisela Freire, a partner at Cescon Barrieu in the labor area, believes that many of the problems that may arise in adopting the four-day week can be mitigated through collective bargaining. This instrument could be used, for example, to agree on the maintenance or reduction of salary and changes in the employment contract.

Experts say collective bargaining is the best way to reduce working hours

This understanding is shared by the lawyer Geraldo Fonseca, partner at Martorelli Advogados. According to him, the adoption of the model does not imply flexibilization of the rights guaranteed by the CLT.

“However, in order to have greater legal certainty, both for the company and employees, the four-day working day must be formalized via a collective bargaining agreement”.

Carlos Eduardo Dantas Costa, a partner at Peixoto & Cury Advogados, believes that, although it does not result in flexibilization of labor rights, the adoption of the model should bring compensation to companies. The way to it? Again, collective bargaining.

“The best way to make an adjustment like this, safely and with the possibility of reversal, is to enter into a collective agreement with the union that represents the workers. Thus, already in the agreement, it could be fixed that, if not renewed, after the end of its term, the original working day is automatically re-established”.

The adoption of a test phase of the reduction of working hours is defended by the specialist in Labor Law Immaculate Gordian. “The company can exercise the option of taking one day off work a week, reducing the workload, but not reducing the employee’s salary. But, if in the future it chooses to return to the previous workload, it will have to increase the employee’s salary” , she says, referring to cases in which there is no prior negotiation.

Finally, the lawyer Sergio Pelcerman, from Almeida Prado & Hoffmann Advogados Associados, defends that the adoption of the model be done on a preliminary basis, with only a few employees. “This is through an individual agreement. In this way, it will be possible to understand the impacts on a daily basis, listing the positive and negative points”.

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