Brazil’s highly regulated employment schemes provide safeguards for preventing those working in Brazil from being dismissed unlawfully, while also providing some quirky benefits unique to the Brazilian way of life.
I have worked as an English teacher formally and informally. I’ve worked as a freelance translator and I have managed an Airbnb. Now I pay my own pension and have managed to get all the paperwork so that one day, maybe, I’ll retire on a beach in Brazil.
Do you know how daunting it is to try to get yourself a job in a foreign country? A country where you don’t even really speak the language. You hand over a resume and you can barely explain that it is a resume! Whilst trying to emit the visage that you are actually a fully-functioning adult that would like someone to pay you?
If that’s you, you’re a hero. For even attempting to get employment in another country you should be heralded. In that vain I’ve put together a post with everything I’ve learnt about working in Brazil. I hope it helps!
How to get yourself a Workers Book (Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social)
In order to work in Brazil, you need to be formally hired by your employer in your Workers Book (carteira de trabalho). Inside this little blue book is your salary or hourly wage, the details of the employer and your details such as social security number. It’s like a passport of work, which guarantees you your legal rights as an employee.
A Social Security number in Brazil is the PIS number and you receive it via your Carteira de Trabalho.
Good news, you can now get your Workers Book digitally!
Download the app to your mobile device here.
Data needed to apply: CPF, Name, Date of Birth, Mother’s Name, then select “Não sou brasileiro” if you are foreign born.
Learn how to get a CPF here (even if you are a tourist).
Your new employer can access your digital workers book once you provide them your PIS number.
Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social (CTPS) = A Worker’s and Social Security Book
Programa Integração Social Número (PIS número) = Social Security Number
Your Worker’s Rights
The Brazilian law is crafted to ensure that all workers are treated fairly and have the same benefits. This includes paid time off, maternity leave, salary increases in line with inflation, as well as set yearly bonuses, food and transportation. Having lived in the US for 2 years I can tell you that working in Brazil is much less precarious than in the States. You can at least know that once you have a job, you’ll be able to keep it and eventually get a pension.
30 paid days off a year
Every person will be required to take 30 days of vacation. You will be paid the normal amount of hours that you would work during this period. Mostly you have to take that PTO in a bundle of 30 days or split into 20 and 10 days at a time. You can negotiate this with your employer, but this is the standard way to enjoy your vacation.
In addition to this vacation, employees enjoy 16 days of national holidays where offices, schools, and public bodies are obligated to close.
13th Salary (Décimo Terceiro Salário)
Expect an extra month salary at the end of the year. In Brazil a yearly bonus is a requirement and is pegged to the equivalent of a month’s wage.
Minimum Salary is set each year
The Brazilian government set a national minimum salary that rises annually. In 2021 this is R$1,200 per month (Brazilian Real).
Some jobs will distinguish your payment in terms of minimum salary. For example, you will be paid 2 minimum salaries. In this case the salary will increase in line with government increases in minimum salaries.
Due to inflation Brazilian workers are often granted a salary increase per year. This is mostly negotiated by your union. The majority of employees will be members of a union and pay a small price for this membership (equivalent of 1 day of work per year).
Brazilian State Pension Scheme
Every worker in Brazil has the right to have a State Pension known as INSS (Instituto Nacional de Seguro Social). Employers must pay this pension monthly as part your salary. If you are self-employed, for instance a day cleaner, you have to pay this yourself.
Since I stopped working in Brazil as an English teacher, I pay my own INSS monthly. Currently I pay the minimum salary just to keep my account active. I suggest you do the same if you are just starting out and increase the contribution closer to the retirement age.
How to Pay Your Own INSS (State Pension)
Go to this website and click Gera GPS.
Input your PIS, name and the captcha.
Verify your information is correct.
Select ‘contribuinte depois de 1999’.
Select ‘contribuinte individual’.
Input your salary amount and the month you are paying (the previous month)
Pay the boleto (bill).
Save a comprovante (proof of payment).
Transport and Food Subsidies
Some jobs, depending on the size of the organization will pay you a food subsidy in line with hours worked.
There is also a transport subsidy for those who must travel to their place of work.
Companies must pay you 120 days of maternity leave if you are formally employed in your worker’s book. If you are not formally employed or unemployed you can apply for government maternity pay.
In order to sign up to this benefit you must be registered in INSS, which is the State Pension Program. Every worker in Brazil should sign up to this pension scheme in conjunction with other private schemes if possible. To get maternity leave you must have contributed at least 10 months of INSS at some time.
FGTS – Government Savings Account
Employers must pay an amount into your government savings account, held in the public bank Caixa. The rules of this account change frequently, allowing withdrawals to aid the flow of money into the economy in moments of recession.
Get the FGTS app to check your current amount.
You can use this money to pay for part of the deposit of a property. Also after 3 years of no formal work (no signed work in your Carteira de Trabalho) you can withdraw the money you accumulated in your Caixa FGTS account.
Check if you can withdraw money in additional occasions via the Brazilian national news.
Quitting a Job in Brazil
You have to write a handwritten letter explaining that you are leaving. Weird, but it’s a thing. Handwritten!?
Registering Your Foreign Degree
If you want to work in certain professions in Brazil, you need to register and transfer your degree so it is recognized in Brazil. This is mainly important for professions like lawyers, doctors, biologists and economists. However, in order to do further studies such as a Masters, you also need your degree validated. This is to ensure that the modules you studied are equal to those studied in the same degrees in Brazil. Tit for tat.
Working in Brazil, Whose Permitted?
Only permanent Brazilian residents can work in Brazil or those on Work visas (sponsored by a company). Usually, a work visa is provided by an employee that is transferred abroad by a multinational company.
Tourists and students are not allowed to legally work. You could work for cash privately. However, you won’t be employed in any language schools, businesses, or other work areas on these two visas.
Working in Brazil Etiquette
Eat lunch with your colleagues. Get happy hour with your colleagues. Brazilians are social creatures.
Dress formally. Office attire is a must in Brazil even if it is 40 degrees celsius outside. The excessive use of AC will aid this attire. On the flip-side in some universities I have seen professors using flip-flops. But you can’t wear flip flops in the office.
Baby showers at work. Work like to throw baby showers where other people bring you mountains of nappies for your little arrival.
End of year parties are called festa de confraternização. Most big companies will absolutely be expected to pay for this for all employees.
The coffee area. There is an area called “Copa” with coffee and biscuits for employees. Use it.
I hope this provided you some guidance to working in Brazil. Knowing your rights as an immigrant worker is critical and if you are ever in doubt seek legal advice. This is just a starting point to guide you in the right direction.
Infinite luck in your Brazilian journey!