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Brazil's labour laws_March 2011

In 2009 21m brazilians opened cases against their

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example, annual leave can only be taken in one or two chunks, neither of less than ten days. In 2009, 2.1m Brazilians opened cases against their employers in the labour courts. These courts rarely side with employers. The annual cost of running this branch of the judiciary is over 10 billion reais ($6 billion). Businessmen have long complained that these onerous labour laws, together with high payroll taxes, put them off hiring and push them to pay under the table when they do. When Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former union leader, became Brazil’s president in 2003, they hoped he would be better placed than his predecessors to persuade workers that looser rules would be better for them. But scandals in his first term derailed these and other hoped-for reforms. More recently, as Brazil’s economy has boomed, with record numbers of jobs created, the need for change has seemed less pressing (see article ). The laws are “very up-to-date”, the labour minister, Carlos Lupi, said in December. He wants firing workers to become still pricier. That many of the new jobs are formal (ie, legally registered) is despite, rather than because of, the labour laws. The trend to formalisation is largely a result of the greater availability of bank credit and equity capital on the one hand, and recent changes that make it easier to register
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micro-businesses on the other. And it coexists with two longstanding Brazilian weaknesses: high job turnover and low productivity growth.
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