Holiday Leave in Brazil
After being employed for 12 months, employees are entitled to 30 paid days off a year. At least one of the vacation periods needs to be 14 days long, and two at least 5 days long. On top of the regular wage during the time off, employers must also give employees a vacation bonus, which equals one-third of their monthly salary. This bonus must be paid at least two days preceding the date the employee goes on vacation. The vacation bonus is paid separately from the regular payroll but may be recorded and reported along with the monthly payroll. Employees may request that their employers convert one-third of their unused vacation to the equivalent in cash. Unused annual leave cannot be carried over to the following year.
If employees take unjustified absences during the year, their holiday entitlement lowers as follows:
- 6 to 14 days of unjustified absence – 24 days of paid time off
- 15 to 23 days of unjustified absence – 18 days of paid time off
- 24 to 32 days of unjustified absence – 12 days of paid time off
- more than 32 days of unjustified absence – 0 days of paid time off
Employees who are absent from work may present a document to their HR department, proving their irrevocable need to miss work for that day, which is then analysed by the company and accepted or not as a justifiable absence.
In Brazil, there are national, regional, and optional holidays. There are nine national holidays that apply to all employees, regional holidays that vary by state, and five optional (i.e., not mandatory) holidays often observed by companies and seen as important celebration dates.
The dates of optional holidays often involve the reduction in volume of public transportation on the streets; for that reason, some employers allow employees to work from home on those dates.
In Rio de Janeiro, the 20th of January (Saint Sebastian's Day), the 23rd of April (Saint George's Day), and the 20th of November (Black Awareness Day) are statutory holidays.
In São Paulo, the 25th of January (São Paulo’s Foundation Day), the 9th of July (Constitutional Revolution), and the 20th of November (Black Awareness Day) are statutory holidays.
When an employee works during a national holiday, they are entitled to either a double pay or an additional day off at a later date. When a holiday falls on a weekend, it doesn't carry over to the next working day.
Brazil 2021 Holiday Calendar
|1/1/2021||Friday||New Year’s Day|
|2/17/2021||Wednesday||Carnaval (ends at 2 p.m.)*|
|10/12/2021||Tuesday||Our Lady Aparecida and Children’s Day|
|11/2/2021||Tuesday||All Souls Day|
|11/15/2021||Monday||Republic Proclamation Day|
* Optional but very common holidays. Carnaval is a mandatory holiday in Rio de Janeiro, and Corpus Christi is a mandatory holiday in São Paulo.
Most companies observe Christmas holidays starting at 2 p.m. on the 24th of December and New Year’s Eve starting at 2 p.m. on the 31st of December.
Types of Leave in Brazil
In Brazil, employees get sick leave (licença médica) as dictated by the doctor, who prescribes how long they need to be absent from work, not by a pre-established number of days. Employees must present their employers with a doctor’s stamped note stating that the employee was unable to come to work.
Employers are responsible for paying the employee 100% of their salary for the first 15 days of illness. From the 16th day onward, the Social Security (INSS) pays for the leave, capped at BRL 6,433.57 monthly (auxílio doença). The INSS pays the allowance only if the employee has been working for the company for at least 12 months. Employees who receive sick leave pay from the INSS cannot be fired for up to one year after they return to work.
Female employees who have been employed for more than three months are eligible for 120 days of paid maternity leave, including adoptive mothers. The leave may be extended by two weeks with a doctor’s order. The employer pays for the leave, which is equal to the employee’s regular pay, without a cap. However, employers can claim the payment back through deductions on social security contributions.
During the pregnancy, the employee is entitled to time off for hospital visits and sick leave. The maternity leave may start up to 28 days before the child’s birth or on the day of the birth/adoption. Employees on maternity leave are protected from being dismissed without cause for the first five months after the birth.
Recently, the federal government has created an optional program — Empresa Cidadã, using which private companies can give employees an additional 60 days of paid leave financed directly from their corporate tax contributions. This fully paid leave may begin at the eighth month of pregnancy. In case of adoption, the amount of additional leave depends on the child’s age. After one year and up to four, the mother is entitled to 30 additional days; four to eight years, 15 days.
For the first six months after a child is born, biological and adoptive mothers are entitled daily to two paid breastfeeding breaks of 30 minutes each. After that, companies can choose to combine the two breaks and reduce the employee’s daily working hours by one hour or give them an additional 15 days of paid time off, which is the equivalent of the daily breaks for the time.
Fathers are entitled to five days of paid paternity leave after the birth of their child, paid by the employer at the employee’s full salary.
The Empresa Cidadã optional program described above in the “Maternity leave” section is also applicable to fathers, but for a shorter leave of 15 days. The leave is paid by the employer and is deducted from the company’s corporate tax contributions.
Employees are entitled to two paid days in the case of death of an immediate family member such as a parent, spouse, sibling, and child.
Employees are also entitled to paid time off, paid by the employer, in the following situations:
- Marriage leave for the employee’s wedding – three days.
- Election days, which are public holidays usually falling on Sundays.
- Medical leave to attend medical appointments for themselves or their children under the age of six – one day per year.
Employees also get two days off to accompany their wives to medical appointments during their pregnancy.
- Blood donation for one day within a 12-month period.