University of São Paulo: Wage floor is a political issue and unions have great importance in defining it

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How is the salary floor established? What criteria are used to determine the value of the floor? These issues arose due to the repercussion of the sanction of Law No. 14,434/2022, at the beginning of August, by President Jair Bolsonaro. The law set the salary floor for nursing professionals. By law, the minimum salary for nurses in 2022 is BRL 4,750.00; that of nursing technicians, R$3,325.00, and that of nursing assistants and midwives, R$2,375.00. One month after its approval, the measure was suspended by an injunction issued by the Minister of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), Luís Roberto Barroso. The final decision goes to the Plenary of the Court.

Professor Luciana Morilas, from the Faculty of Economics, Administration and Accounting of Ribeirão Preto (FEA-RP) at USP, clarifies what the minimum wage is and warns that the term “floor” cannot be confused with the concept of a minimum wage. . The two institutes are foreseen in the Federal Constitution of 1988, in its article 7, but they have different objectives.

While the minimum wage refers to the minimum amount that all workers must receive to meet basic vital needs, the minimum wage is related to the extent and complexity of the work performed. “For the worker, the minimum wage represents the certainty of the valorization of his career and a disincentive to the possibility of replacing workers with lower wages”, says Luciana.

floor value
To find the value of the minimum wage, there is no standard equation, it depends on political negotiations and previous studies, which are carried out by the unions of the categories. The “floor” must be proportional to the complexity and extent of the work, but how to define this complexity? The expert says that this is not an easy task.


“Based on surveys of average remuneration, unions assess whether it is a fair value for that professional category and make a proposal through collective bargaining agreements, which may or may not be approved and signed by employers’ unions or companies. individualized,” explains Luciana.

When defined by the union of a certain category, the salary floor is only valid for the area covered by that union. This causes each state or region to have a different minimum wage value for a given professional category, but always higher than the minimum wage.

The floor can also be defined through federal and state laws, as in the case of professional Nursing, which was defined from a federal law. When defined through this law, the value established is valid for the entire national territory and not just for a specific state.

Although it is defined through laws, the role of unions is of great importance, emphasizes Luciana. “The day-to-day details are known by those who work and the unions rely on this expertise; so, most of the time, who will help in the definition are the unions of the categories”, so it is very important that the categories of workers come together; “Individually, it is much more difficult to negotiate, there will always be someone who works for less”, she adds.

Impact on hiring
Although many understand that the definition of the minimum wage has a negative impact on hiring workers, Luciana believes that, by defining this value, there is no possibility of hiring a professional in that category for a lower value than the defined value. In this way, the employer is obliged to pay the minimum wage, valuing that work.

The discussion on this topic is extensive and controversial. While some believe that each worker is responsible for negotiating their own salary, without the interference of third parties, others emphasize that this is not the case. “Employers always want to increase their profit margin and what they cut first is always the worker’s salary”, says Luciana.

According to the specialist, it is rare, according to the specialist, that the employer thinks of investments to improve the profession and it was in this context that Brazil decided in 1988, with the enactment of the current Federal Constitution, to create rules for the protection of workers, such as the salary and the minimum wage. The specialist believes that the impact of these measures is positive, “it will generate more satisfied workers and, therefore, services performed with more quality”.

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