The head section of article 464 of the Consolidated Labor Laws (CLT) provides that "the payment of salaries shall be accompanied by a receipt, signed by the employee." The sole paragraph of this legal provision provides that "proof of deposit into a bank account opened for that purpose, on behalf of the employee, with the consent of the latter, in a credit facility near the place of work shall be required." In other words, a bank deposit made by the employer into an account opened for this purpose, with the consent of the employee, is equated to a signed payment receipt.
As the legal provision was enacted in 1943, the possibilities for making payments have increased greatly since then. It is common practice currently to pay wages through electronic banking transactions. In this manner, employees no longer receive paper money at the end of the month and therefore cannot provide any individual receipt to the company.
In addition, it is no longer necessary for the current account to be opened at a banking institution located near the employees, since the Internet allows bank transactions anywhere and at any time, without requiring a physical presence at the branch.
In this context, the debate regarding the validity of payment slips as a means of proving payments made by employers arose, since these documents do not present individual signatures or vouchers of the deposits made.
When prompted to rule on the matter, Justice Douglas Alencar Rodrigues, of the Superior Labor Court (TST), issued a decision containing the understanding that payment slips issued by employers are not equivalent to the receipts referred to in article 464 of the CLT, since they do not have a signature.
The Justice further stated that, in accordance with the principle of suitability for the production of evidence, it would be incumbent on the claimant to challenge objectively the content of the payment slips.
"To do this, it would be sufficient to submit one of his paychecks that would eventually show the incorrectness of the amounts stated in the documents, which did not occur.”
This is not, however, the only position adopted by the TST on the topic. In an identical situation, Justice José Roberto Freire Pimenta agreed that proof of payment will only be valid if the receipt is signed or if the respective deposit receipt is presented.
Divergent decisions raise legal uncertainty and cause doubts for employers regarding how to proceed in order to avoid future judgments providing for payment of monies already paid.
As a result of these differences of opinion, the most cautious position is for employers to take the following preventive measures:
- Include in new employee packages, or even as a provision in the employment contract, a signed statement by which employees state the bank account in which they wish to receive their wages; and
- Keep the bank deposit vouchers for deposits made for employees, along with the payment slips, in order to prove that the payment was made into the current account provided by the employee at the time of hiring.
If employers adopt the above provisions, signature on payment receipts and bank vouchers becomes only measures of extreme caution, since, based on the sole paragraph of article 464 of the CLT, proof of bank deposit in a checking account provided by the employee would be enough to eliminate the need to sign the receipts.
These practices ensure employers are able to correctly demonstrate payments made to employees, thus satisfying the burden of proof for the payment required by law and avoiding possible questions of invalidity of the evidence presented.