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Brazil Fights Business and Technology: Everybody Loses

Many readers of this post probably just went through this process: after sending a quick work email from a smartphone while riding the train or subway, or sitting at home on the couch, they then opened up a news reader app to thumb through articles.

First, thank you for coming to Via Meadia. But secondly, did you technically get paid for those five minutes you just spent composing that email?

Should your employer be paying you overtime for checking that email?

That may seem a ridiculous idea, but in Brazil President Rousseff recently signed a law mandating companies pay overtime for those emails and after-work business calls. The FT reports:

More wide-reaching than restrictions in other countries, such as a regulation at Volkswagen in Germany that blocks the sending of work emails to some employees outside the office, the law could set a precedent for other government concerned that modern smartphones are creating nations of Crackberry-addicted workaholics.

Yet, in a country that already has strong protections for workers, there are fears the law will only make the cost of hiring steeper in Brazil, discouraging employers from recruiting and encouraging more litigation.

Workers should watch out: if companies started deducting pay for hours on company time spent on personal emails, social media and general web-surfing, many of us would be getting much smaller checks. I’ve been to Brazil a number of times over the years and on the whole find that the danger of Brazil turning into a nation of workaholics is well under control.

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  • Rhodium Heart

    Two words: São Paulo. Brazil successfully eradicated the disease of workaholism, probably around the time of the Treaty of Tordesillas, but the germ survived in one little enclave in the Brazilian Southeast.

  • Corlyss

    Economist this week offers a chiling story about state capitalism, the new business model.Brazil apparently has thrown over its 20 yr old persuit of an economy based on private capitalism.

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