As Brazil recorded its first death from Covid-19 on Tuesday, the country is now beginning to see the effects of the pandemic on its everyday life. Streets are quieter, classes have been suspended, state governments have banned large gatherings, shopping malls are closing stores, food courts are reducing their opening hours, and many are now working from home.
This reporter is among those affected. Despite it being a sunny day in Brasília, I and many others are writing their stories from home, with work in Congress reduced and political discussions taking place online, over instant messaging apps. In São Paulo, the rest of The Brazilian Report team is also working remotely.
But, like everything in Brazil, legislation is so intricate that any remote working measures adopted by companies must be rigorously analyzed so as not to justify legal proceedings. While home office regimes have been a part of Brazilian labor law since 2011, there are still some underlying doubts.
Labor lawyer Mariana Machado Pedroso warns that the change from office to remote work requires a formal provision in employment contracts. The change may occur via a contractual amendment, and must specify what activities will be provided and the infrastructure that will be offered by the company.
“As the employer must bear this economic risk, the amendment must regulate the additional amount to cover the necessary infrastructure for the job,” she explains.
Control of hours is also a controversial point, as the company would technically have the right to terminate contracts if employees are not working enough hours during home office. Also, workers must not be obligated to complete tasks outside of their agreed hours
Demand for laptops rises
The trend toward remote work has caused a number of changes in consumer habits, notably in laptop rental
Equipment leasing company Agasus has reported a 300-percent increase in demand for laptops and smartphones in the last week, according to company partner João Luiz Lima, speaking to Valor.
The major driving force behind this increase is large businesses, which have sought out rentals on a bigger scale to kit out their employees to work from home. While some companies are fearing for their future amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Agasus has announced it is increasing its staff by 20 percent and hopes to open up offices in two other cities later this year. Revenue for this year is projected to increase 60 percent.
Best practices to switch to home office
For employers, here are some tips on how to offer remote working to your staff without infringing upon labor legislation:
– The provision of services by home office must be included in employment contracts. If there is no such clause in current agreements, contractual amendments will be required;
– The activities to be provided during home office hours must be specified. Any contractual amendments must include which services employees must perform during their remote work period;
– Companies must supply the necessary equipment for the provision of services under remote working models—even electricity and internet bills must be taken into account. Where possible, the company should provide these directly or define additional remuneration to cover services required for home office work;
– Workers have the right to stop work after completing the agreed daily hours or time period. For any additional work, overtime must be paid;
– Control of employees’ hours can be done manually or automatically, by way of login and logout times;
– Companies are not required to pay compensation for transport, but meal subsidies must continue during remote work.