One of the most striking and controversial changes promoted by Law No. 13,467/1207 (Labor Reform), later complemented by Presidential Decree No. 808, was the end of the obligation to pay union contributions.
Also called the union tax, this contribution was collected annually from employees and companies and sent to unions, federations, confederations, trade unions, and even the Ministry of Labor.
Between applause and criticism, most of the news and commentary on this change referred only to the end of employees’ obligation to contribute. In fact, the new wording of article 582 of the Consolidated Labor Laws (CLT) is clear and states that employers shall only deduct the union contribution from employees who have previously and expressly authorized collection.
Article 582. Employers are required to deduct the union contribution in March of each year from the payroll of their employees who have expressly authorized in advance collection for their respective unions.
However, although it received little comment, the Labor Reform also made union contribution to employers’ unions optional for companies.
The old wording of Article 578 of the CLT was imperative in determining that union contributions would be "paid, collected, and applied" in the manner established. However, the Labor Reform added at the end of article 578 the expression "provided that they are expressly authorized in advance":
Article 578. Contributions owed to trade unions by participants in economic or professional categories or professions represented by said entities shall be paid, collected, and applied in the manner established in this Chapter, provided that they are expressly authorized in advance.
The conclusion that the union contribution will also no longer be mandatory for companies is strengthened by the new wording given to article 587 of the CLT by the Labor Reform:
Article 587. Employers who choose to collect union contributions must do so in January of each year, or for those that come to be established after that month, at the time they apply to the authorities for registration or a license for the exercise of their respective activity.
The end of the obligation will come into force in 2018, unless some proposed amendment to Presidential Decree 808 or a new law on this subject is enacted.
It is important to note that the Labor Reform did not mention other forms of contribution to unions. Thus, there is nothing to prevent collective rules from establishing other payments to be made by companies and employees, with questionable obligatoriness for those not associated with the unions.