Changes to Brazilian labor laws have been on the agenda ever since the beginning of the Michel Temer government in August 2016, after the contentious impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. In the past three and a half years, these rules have been altered to a greater or lesser extent, from the approval of sweeping labor reform in 2017, to the Economic Freedom Law of 2019, which increased flexibility for employers and gave more power to private contracts.
But the history of workers’ rights in Brazil begins in the 1930s, during the first term of President Getulio Vargas. It was then that the analysis of all labor protection rules began.
In 1943, with Vargas having established a dictatorship, the result of these debates on workers’ rights culminated in the so-called Consolidated Labor Laws (CLT), which unified all the rules concerning labor rights into a single document. According to President Vargas, the CLT represented the “economic emancipation of workers,” as the legislation was designed to protect employees at a time when their employers held excessive power. These rules largely remained in place until recently.