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Brazil Contemplates Social Benefit Scheme for Gig Workers, Without “Employee” Designation

Joining the international community that continues to grapple with how to provide a social safety net for gig and platform workers, Brazil is contemplating an approach to providing social benefits through the creation of a new welfare system that would avoid roping app workers into the country’s strict labor codes. 

According to recent remarks by Brazil’s Labor Minister Jose Carlos Oliveira, as reported by Reuterstech companies and gig workers would help fund the new welfare system which aims to be proposed in legislation by the end of 2022.  Mr. Oliveira noted the proposal was created with collaboration from tech companies and their service providers 

While providing benefits to gig workers is not necessarily “new news” any longer, what is amazing about the Brazilian approach, according to the same Reuters report, is that the new welfare system would be specifically arranged to provide the benefits and improve working conditions without designating app providers as engaging in a formal employment relationship with their workers.   

The goal of providing benefits without creating a new class of worker or a “rebuttable presumption” of employment status is notable – particularly in Brazil which is known for its tough labor code. The proposal has received support from several gig companies in Brazil.  

Notably, with the Brazilian presidential election approaching, platform workers and their benefit scheme become a focal point of the debate. Bolsonaro’s opponent Lula has also announced his focus on creating labor laws around this group.   

HR Policy Global’s Take:  A bit of a surprise here from Brazil.  As I said above, the country is known for strict (and employee friendly) labor codes.  It is, therefore, a bit of a surprise to see the country take a more moderate approach to gig and platform workers in negotiating a social welfare framework which avoids the full-employee designation while also forgoing the creation of a middle tier of worker that we’ve seen elsewhere (e.g., the UK and Canada).

Published on: May 18, 2022

Authors: Henry D. Eickelberg

Topics: Latin America

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