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HomeEconomyCarnival is not a national holiday: see workers' rights

Carnival is not a national holiday: see workers’ rights


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The worker who is counting down the days for the official start of Carnival 2023 needs to ensure that he will be entitled to time off before starting planning for the party.

Despite being prominently listed in most calendar pages, Carnival is not a national holiday. This means that companies are not required to grant employees time off and can summon the professional to work without the need to pay overtime.

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However, as it is an event with great cultural appeal, it is common for employers and employees to negotiate an agreement.

This year, Carnival will be celebrated on February 21, Tuesday. It is the first year of unrestricted celebration since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Rio de Janeiro is the only Brazilian state to consider the date a holiday. In this case, there is the right to time off and payment of double hours in case of working hours.

Other cities and states, however, consider Carnival an optional point. This is the case of the city of São Paulo, which declared an optional point for municipal employees on February 20th and 21st. On the 22nd, the point will be optional until 12h.

According to lawyer Stéfany Klein, from Silveiro Advogados, while a holiday is determined by law, the optional point is a decree published in the Official Gazette of each state or municipality. “At the optional point, companies can choose or not to suspend activities”. In the civil service, the day off is guaranteed when a certain body is closed.

For many categories, the decision not to work during the optional period is defined in collective agreements and varies according to the area of ​​activity of each category.

Banks, for example, follow a resolution of the National Monetary Council, which does not consider working days for the purposes of banking operations Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays, as well as Monday and Tuesday of Carnival.

According to Febraban (Brazilian Federation of Banks) the office hours in bank branches only return on Ash Wednesday (22), from 12h. The schedule applies to both public and private banks.

Trade will operate normally during Carnival and in the days leading up to the party. According to the president of the Commerce Workers Union of São Paulo, Ricardo Pata, Carnival has great relevance in the trade movement, which is why the category does not release employees during the days of revelry.

What type of agreement can be defined between employer and employee?

According to experts, it is quite common for employers and employees to reach an agreement not to work on Carnival day. The most common is an hourly compensation agreement.

“Companies that already adopt a bank of hours can compensate for these hours not worked by employees”, says lawyer Stéfany Klein.

However, in smaller companies, the agreements end up being different. According to the expert, one of the alternatives is to offer the employee the option of extending the working day for a few days a week to compensate for the hours not worked on the day off.

“The employee can work an extra hour all week to have Carnival off. But, according to what the CLT (Consolidation of Labor Laws) says, the maximum that the worker can do is two extra hours a day.”

What happens if the employee is absent?

In case the company chooses to keep the working hours during the days of revelry, and the employee misses work without justification, he will be disrespecting an employer’s order, says lawyer Luís Carlos Mello, from the Atique e Mello Advogados office.

In this case, the company can deduct that day from the salary and stop paying the weekly rest day. “Law 605/49 guarantees the worker the remuneration of the day of rest only if he has completed the journey of that week with assiduity and punctuality”.

In some cases, he may also have a discount on vacation, on the basic basket and other benefits.

But despite these consequences, unexcused absence is not a reason for dismissal for just cause, says Stefany.

“To configure a dismissal for just cause, it would take at least 30 days of absence. Depending on the employer, in addition to the discount, the punishment can be a suspension or even a warning”.

Can the company that dismisses the employee charge replacement hours?

According to experts, a company that decides on its own not to open during Carnival cannot deduct the day from employees’ salaries or demand that hours not worked be compensated.

“In this case, as it is a decision made by the company itself, it cannot discount [o salário]. In the event of the existence of a bank of hours, in theory, the company will be able to debit such hours in said bank”, says Mello.

In municipalities where the date is included in the list of local holidays, the worker has the right to a rest day guaranteed by law. The employee who goes to work on the occasion has the right to receive double the amounts, if the employer does not guarantee the day off.

Commerce in São Paulo operates at normal hours

São Paulo trade workers will have normal working hours this carnival. According to the Trade Union of São Paulo, stores will operate normally on the 20th, 21st and 22nd.

“We do not have anything in the collective agreement that considers the date as a holiday, or that says that the employee should earn overtime. Unfortunately, it is a common day, because the legislation itself makes no mention of this date being a holiday”, says the president of the union.

According to Ricardo Pata, keeping stores open is also a strategic decision, as tourism helps to move stores.

“It’s one of the moments when it sells the most. It has an important chain, which goes not only from confetti to serpentine, but which also drives the sale of costumes, drinks and food”.

Shopping malls will also have no change in operation

Those who work in a store or restaurant inside a shopping center will also have little change in their routine during the days of Carnival. According to Alshop (Brazilian Association of Shopping Store Owners), there will be practically no change in the operation of the establishments.

On Saturday (18) and Monday (20), opening hours will be normal, from 10am to 10pm. On Sunday (19), the operation will be from 14:00 to 20:00.

On Carnival Tuesday (21st) and Ash Wednesday (22nd), malls were also instructed to maintain their normal opening hours, from 10am to 10pm. However, it is up to the management of each shopping center to decide whether to maintain full-time or reduced hours, says Luis Augusto Ildefonso da Silva, director of institutional relations at Alshop.

“This is an internal decision of each company. There is no rule that stipulates this”, says Silva.

On the 21st, shopping centers that decide to reduce their opening hours can open from 2 pm to 8 pm. On the 22nd, whoever chooses to shorten the hours can work from noon to 10 pm.

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