On March 24, 2014, the Brazilian Ministry of Labor issued new regulations1 authorizing work on Sundays and public holidays.

In Brazil, the general rule is that employees are entitled to a weekly paid rest day, which must coincide with Sundays, except if the nature of the service/industry requires regular work on Sundays. The law further determines which industries and sectors can operate on Sundays and holidays without prior authorization from the Ministry of Labor, such as retail and public transportation, but requires all sectors and industries to maintain a rotating schedule allowing all employees to have at least one Sunday off per month. For all other industries, employers must get prior authorization from the Ministry of Labor to implement a regular work schedule that includes Sundays and holidays.

Before the new regulation was enacted, employers had to submit the following documentation for the authorization and its periodical renewal:

  1. technical report prepared by a federal, state or municipal institution, valid for four years, showing the technical needs for uninterrupted work of one or more sectors of the company;
  2. collective agreement or express consent of employees with the assistance of the respective union; and
  3. the rotating schedule, showing compliance with the one-Sunday-per-month rule.

Under the new regulation, employers will still need to submit these documents, but the authorization is now subject to the employer being on good standing with the authorities. The Ministry of Labor, through its regional districts (known as “superintendence”), will now check whether the applicant employer has been assessed for non-compliance with wage and hour or health and safety requirements within the last five years. The regional superintendence will cross-check the information provided on the Federal System of Labor Inspection (“SFIT”), the Annual Report on Social Information (“RAIS,” which is submitted annually by employers) and the General Register of Employees and Unemployed (“CAGED,” submitted by employers upon the hiring and dismissal of employees).

If the regional superintendence finds non-compliance with working hours, rest days, or health and safety rules, the employer will be subjected to a new inspection. If the employer fails the new inspection, then the authorization may be denied or canceled, especially if the employer has a history of non-compliance.

In practice, the new rules will likely hinder the approval of new and renewing authorizations, which can impact production and operations. Accordingly, employers should make sure they are compliant with the new regulations and take extra care to ensure that their applications for the authorization (or their renewal) meet all of the requirements under the law.