Current Demands on Brazil’s Labor Courts

COVID-19 Reports on Latin America and the Caribbean: No. 11 (Em Português)

In Brazil, many workers were let go from their jobs due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Conciliations and mediations have become crucial due to the large volume of labor lawsuits that have resulted.  However, conciliations were down during the first part of the year because they were temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus.

Brazil’s Superior Labor Court

On August 31, 2020, Brazil’s Superior Labor Court published an article explaining what conciliation and mediation is and how these practices can be used to resolve new labor conflicts during the pandemic.

Labor conciliations have a great advantage for the parties, in that they put an end to long-standing legal disputes and can now be done via videoconference, enabling a faster result. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the Superior Council for Labor Justice, through Recommendation CSJT.GVP 1/2020, expanded the scope of pre-procedural mediation for conflicts involving personal interests, and related to the company’s operating activities in extraordinary situations. 

The procedures for conflict resolution in the first instance have also been established in Brazil, so that essential activities continue and workers are not exposed to the virus. 

The number of labor conciliations according to CNJ

According to the 2019 National Council of Justice (CNJ) report, the Labor Courts are the body of the Brazilian Judiciary that most use conciliation, with 24% of cases resolved in this way.  In 2019, the Labor Courts’ conciliation rate was 42.9% and more than 853 thousand agreements were signed, resulting in the payment of more than $14.4 billion Reais to workers.

The result of labor conciliations during the COVID-19 pandemic shows that from January to July 2020, the general conciliation index for the Labor Courts was 39.5% (270,800 conciliations), with more than $6 billion Reais paid by first instance agreements.

The CNJ also published a report with information about the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil and its impacts on labor lawsuits. The publication includes links, normative acts, and statistics on the subject.

In preparation of the report, a working group was created to collect information from the courts, except those related to the Electoral Courts. Between June 4th and 19th, aspects of administrative management, case management, service to the public, and perceptions of the impacts and difficulties encountered during the pandemic were collected via an online questionnaire.

The graph below shows the number and percentage of cases for each system used by the court. It is observed that 20% of the cases are handled through the Electronic Judicial Proceedings (PJe) portal, while 19% of the cases are handled by the Automated Judicial System (SAJ).

In the labor courts and in the three higher courts, the proportion of electronic proceedings are higher.

The graph below shows the percentage of cases processed electronically by the PJe, again showing the situation in the Labor Courts and the diversity of electronic systems used by the State Courts.

With regard to administrative management, the courts are adapting to the impacts of the pandemic. Most public employees are working remotely (84%).  In terms of case management, only 27% of court cases are still processed physically.

Labor conciliations in the Regional Labor Court of São Paulo (TRT-2)

The website of the Superior Council for Labor Justice shows how to request a conciliation during the suspension of face-to-face activities because of COVID-19, and provides a list of all Regional Labor Courts (TRTs) and their respective service contacts. 

The Regional Labor Court of São Paulo (TRT-2) website also has special recommendations during the pandemic.

The Regional Labor Court of São Paulo continues to take steps to seek pre-procedural and procedural conciliation in labor disputes, especially in cases related to Covid-19, as many workers have lost their jobs due to spending cuts.

On May 11th, the Judicial Centers for Consensual Methods of Dispute Resolution (CEJUSC) of TRT-2 resumed the hearings of general matters through videoconferences, as defined in Act GP nº 8/2020.  The parties and lawyers are able to submit cases for settlements in the CEJUSC of the first and second instances through the Conciliation Portal.

TRT-2 also published a video showing how a telepresence hearing works in a CEJUSC.

Conciliation and mediation are inherent to the Labor Court in Brazil.  In the current pandemic, due to the coronavirus, they have proven to be an even faster and more effective consensus solution to resolve various conflicts between employees and employers.

The Brazilian Labor Courts will most likely continue to see increases in lawsuits and settlements this year as the pandemic continues. To monitor the Labor Courts and Labor Laws affected by the COVID-19 in Brazil, follow these websites: 

by Daniela Majorie Akama dos Reis and translated by Abby Dos Santos

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