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Focus On: Brazil Is Definitely Not For Beginners

By Eric Villaverde, VP, HR & Payroll, EMEA & LATAM

February 2017

The largest South American country has this adage: “Brazil is not for beginners”.  The phrase is attributed to the world famous creator of Garota de Ipanema, Tom Jobim.  He was well aware of the idiosyncrasies of our country and its people.  If you dare to take a closer look, you will most likely reach the same conclusion soon enough.

When I worked as the Payroll Operations Manager for ADP, one of the world’s largest payroll providers, setting up their premier global platform division in Brazil, one of my duties was to explain some of the characteristics of Payroll processing in the country to the senior leadership team in North America.  That was one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever had, since explaining the inexplicable was quite hard at times.

I remember vividly the attempt to clarify all the back and forth involving the government’s ordinance requirements about the electronic reporting platform called “eSocial”.  My boss would get particularly disconcerted at the incredibly high number of postponements of the platform’s go-live, given that there were massive investments being made to comply with the new system.  Many companies took the energy, time and money to look into the government requirements, analyze current system and internal processes, and proceed with changing those processes and updating their systems in order to comply with the requirements and have it all ready for the go-live dates that kept being pushed forward.  Not to mention the constant changes in specifications and scope, which are taking place to this date.

Brazil_Flag_350The eSocial platform, by the way, is the perfect example of why it is such a good idea for global companies to have a local partner in Brazil to help organize the processes and prepare for drastic changes in their day-to-day operations!  Created to improve the enforcement of Brazilian labor laws by obliging organizations to submit their employee related data through this new platform, "the eSocial system is extremely complex and Requirements are frequently modified by governmental branches involved in the project." By Eric Villaverde, VP HR & Payroll Solutions, LATAM.  It is one of many examples of the need for support of local expertise, without which an entire implementation project can fail miserably.

Now if you add up the current political upheaval, the seemingly everlasting economic crisis that looms over the country, and a way of doing business that more often than not puzzles most of the foreigners, you will quickly come to the conclusion that Brazil, indeed, is not for beginners.  As a business practice well versed in global challenges, the Spencer Thomas Group has been helping clients in this country and all of South America.  Our in-country experts know what it takes to make sense of this complicated environment. 

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