Brazil: Answering work emails after hours is overtime

Workers in Brazil who must answer work emails on their mobile phones after their job shift ends can qualify for overtime pay under a new law. The Star via Slashdot (via @evgenymorozov).


  1. Please, more Brazil news when you run across it, Xeni. I was amazed to recently hear that Brazil is the world’s 4th largest economy. Because so much of their trading is with China I think their growth in global importance has been largely overlooked in our most watched news sources. It seems like the only things I stumble on are the awful things done to the indigenous in the deep interior.

    1. You should check out some better news sources, the growth of the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China and sometimes South Africa) is a pretty key theme in any serious international coverage.

      Although it’s usually ranked more like 7th in terms of size.

        1. I get several RSS feeds from BBC that are supposed to be international, but still seem US-centric. I suspect there’s location info in the feed address I need to reset. Same with my AP and Reuters feeds. NPR’s international coverage seems largely focused on the Mideast.

          7th seems more realistic than 4th. It’s striking how central and South America have slid out of focus for the US since the end of the Cold War.

          1. Sorry, you’re both wrong. Brazil just overtook UK becoming the sixth largest economy (Dec 2011)

          2. I would recommend al-Jazeera English – honestly, best international news service in the world right now, and much broader in terms of regional coverage than the BBC, AP, etc.

          3. the BBC World Service and the BBC News are two arms of the BBC. He meant the former which is primarily a podcasting and radio broadcast service; you appear to refer to the latter, which is more a written word and online video service.

            I agree with wreckrob that the world service is not terrible.


    1. Doesn’t seem that complicated to me. If you’re required to respond to work-related issues in your personal time, and you’re not on salary, then you should be able to claim pay for those lost hours. What’s complicated about that?

      1. Well, for one thing it only applies to “shift” workers; salaried employees need not apply. Frankly I don’t know a lot of shift workers who bring email-reading home with them.

      2. As I Brazilian I can tell you that this kind of law, produced in droves in Brazil, makes it very hard for companies to open job positions. The effects of those laws are exactly the opposite of what they say. The sad thing is that politicians know that and keep creating them to get votes.

        1. Ask any Brazilian what they would prefer: work as a full-time employee at a large corporation, with all the benefits – but having to reply to one or two emails a day; or work for one of the many third-party companies created to provide temps, earning lower wages and with joke benefits. As Leandro said, it is FAR more complicated.

          1.  ask any human which they prefer, unfair caricature #1 or irrelevant caricaure #2, and they will see through you almost every time.

        2. The sad thing is that politicians know that and keep creating them to get votes.

          I’m interested to hear about your view of democracy wherein it’s a bad thing for elected officials to do what their constituents want.

          1. Because the majority doesn’t always make the best decision.  Let’s say someone proposed the minimum wage to be $50/hr.  Most folks would get an immediate raise but would that situation actually work?  No, because although that’s what the people might want, the result would be huge job losses.

    2.  What’s more complicated?  If you follow the link, you’ll find a slightly expanded version of this.  It’s a new law that says exactly what Xeni posted.  What’s the confusion?

      (Also, it’s “than,” not “then.”)

      1. I have a feeling Leandro, being Brazilian, might have a bit more insight into this issue than the two-paragraph Star article has provided you and Xeni.

        And you can start smarmily correcting his English grammar when you start producing near-perfect posts in Portuguese.

        1. I have a feeling Leandro, being Brazilian…

          And you’ve decided that he’s Brazilian because…..his names end in ‘o’?  And that he’s an expert because of a seven-word comment that doesn’t actually say anything?

  2. Interesting comments. I’m an Australian living in Brazil and over the past couple of years, there have been many laws passed by the government that are designed to appeal to voters, but when implemented, create unforeseen (or ignored) complications. ie Zero tolerance to drink driving – good idea – but zero increase in public transport and taxi services.

    Brazil is a complicated place and its complication goes right back to when the Portuguese settled it (read Machado de Assis for more insight into this and its effect on Brazilian culture today).

    So why is this law complicated? Because aside from the question of who will police and enforce it, some might be inspired to save their work email to send after a shift. This will last for a little while and then companies will stop enabling mobile email access so that it can only be done during work hours.

    Now, maybe that sounds ridiculous – but then maybe it’s just a little more complicated than passing yet another (somewhat arbitrary) law.

    1. “It says that company emails to workers are equivalent to orders given directly to the employee. Labour attorneys told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper this makes it possible for workers answering emails after hours to ask for overtime pay.”

      I don’t live in Brazil. In fact, I’m on the opposite side of the planet. But I imagine what will happen is every single email will have a prefix saying “If you receive this email after normal work hours, please only answer it during your next shift”.

    2. So, instead of learning to plan better, all planning must be abandoned?

      also, as an aside, is “it’s a little more complicated than that”… a brazillian thing? Or is that the troll code for the thread?

  3. Mr. Moderator, I can understand this jerk Mad Hatter being aggressive, but neither Leandro, nor Geoffrey are being aggressive or trolling, so why are you being aggressive towards them? In my case, thanks for making a meaningful question about votes and democracy in Brazil, where the system IS different from the US, and is listed by many organizations as a flawed democracy.

    More than ever, politicians are using the combination of mandatory votes and low education of voters to create all kinds of distortions. Like soccer players and country singers being elected with the largest number of votes and “pulling”  with them crooks from their for-hire parties, people that would never get the votes even from the less educated voter. Yes, in Brazil we don’t have districts, and the most voted representatives can “give” votes to other candidates in their parties!

    Xeni reported an interesting law from a foreigner point-of-view, why not let people from Brazil explain how things work here? This Mad Hatter, living from mom’s basement, can say that is trolling, but I would expect more from a moderator.

    And, grammar nazis, I hope I used English the right way.

    1. neither Leandro, nor Geoffrey are being aggressive or trolling, so why are you being aggressive towards them?

      Leandro said something so vague that it could be subject to virtually any interpretation.  Then Geoffrey defended him on the grounds of ‘being Brazilian’.  I asked why he assumes that Leandro (who’s commenting from the US) is Brazilian, why it matters if he is, and why he’s defending the expertise of someone whose entire analysis consists of, “It’s a bit more complicated then that”

      1. Hmmm… Leandro’s vagueness started a rich discussion. And both Leandro’s first and last name are fairly common in Brazil. Both names suggest Portuguese descent, which makes an assumption of Brazilian nationality a relatively safe bet. But I agree with you, both could have more substance. 

        However, the way you put it, it felt like you were siding with the raging commenters that can’t accept Brazilians not being so enthusiastic against that law. Brazil has a lot of idiosyncrasies that keeps it from becoming faster a 1st World country. A big part of the problem is a huge state that tries to legislate every aspect of citizens’ lives – our Constitution has 250 articles and 50 amendments (in 20 years), for example.

        The result of the excess of regulations – including laws about emails(!) – is corruption and a large part of society working outside of the law. Guess who suffers more with this? Poor people, as always. So many middle-clas, educated Brazilians get chills on their spines when yet another aspect of civil life is swallowed by the Mega-State. I would like to see the reaction in the US to a law like that.

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