A postcard from... Brazil

Our 'postcard from' series keeps your updated on key HR areas in different countries

Economic briefing

Brazil hits headlines this month as host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Unfortunately much of this attention has been negative and Zika-related. And the Olympics might never have provided as big an economic boost as needed anyway, according to Moody’s Investor Service report, which found the surge of tourism won’t save Brazil from its longest recession since the 1930s. GDP growth has slowed since 2011 due to factors including overdependence on exports of raw commodities, low productivity and persistently high inflation.


Brazil’s rapid fertility decline since the 1960s is the main factor behind the country’s slowing population growth rate, aging population, and rapidly changing demographics. More than half of Brazil’s population is now considered middle class, but poverty and income inequality levels remain high. The current age structure will begin to shift around 2025, with the labour force shrinking and the elderly population growing.

Legal lowdown

The Brazilian labour system is a rigid legislative framework, mainly defined by the 1988 Federal Constitution and the 1943 Consolidated Labour Laws. Labour courts play an important role and are typically in favour of employees.

“One of the main challenges to be overcome in order to improve business conditions in Brazil include the accumulation of labour entitlements, which can result in high costs associated with hiring or dismissing employees,” says Eduardo Juacaba, partner at Cascione, Pulino, Boulos & Santos Advogados (CPBS). “Labour matters are always a sensitive issue in legal due diligences and is typically a concern for investors given the difficulty in measuring and dealing with the risks involved.”

The main statutory rights include: a 44-hour work week, a Christmas bonus (the ‘13th salary’), annual paid holiday of 30 days, paid weekly rest of 24 uninterrupted hours, maternity and paternity leave of 120 days and five days respectively, health hazard and risky activity bonuses, and right to strike.

From the HR frontline

As the statutory 30 days of annual leave reflects, people take their holidays and leisure time seriously. “In February we celebrate Carnival, which is a big celebration,” reports Aline Gobbi, talent management manager at Fujitsu, Brazil. “We have almost a week of national holiday in which employees can travel to our beautiful beaches, enjoying the summer, the parade and the parties.

“In June we have a national celebration in most cities, especially in the Northeastern region, called Festa Junina. This is a celebration of Saint John’s day and it is very typical for many cities to declare a holiday for a couple of days.”

Fact file

Area: 8,515,770 square kilometres
Population: 204,259,8124
Average age: 31.1 years
Life expectancy: 73.5 years
Main languages: Portuguese
Unemployment rate: 7.6%
GDP per capita: $15,600
Main industries: Well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors