FGTS celebrates 55 years amid change projects; check proposals

Created 55 years ago to be a kind of worker savings and help him in difficult times, such as dismissal or retirement, the Severance Indemnity Fund (FGTS) has undergone major changes in recent years. With the increase in unemployment and informality, the Fund – which also serves the government as financer of infrastructure and housing projects — arouses the interest of shareholders with each announcement of new withdrawals. In Congress alone, there are at least 15 bills to add new forms of access to the FGTS, ranging from reducing the minimum age for making the balance available to withdrawing for assisted reproduction. For specialists, despite promoting the depletion of the Fund, the opening of more withdrawal possibilities moves the economy.

Attorney Ursula Cohim Mauro, a partner at Orizzo Marques Advogados, says that it is common for retirees or those fired to use the funds to open their own business. The maintenance of the FGTS is also positive, in his view, as it grants a financial reserve in fragile situations:

— The income of many Brazilians does not meet the payment of basic bills. Imagine if he will be able to save for unforeseen events? I believe that the Fund has not lost its purpose over the years by allowing access to a substantial amount at important moments.

Labor lawyer Carolina Villas Bôas, from Solon Tepedino Advogados, recalls, however, that a huge range of professionals is uncovered: the self-employed, such as application drivers. Only employees of signed license can withdraw at retirement or at age 70; in case of unfair dismissal; in the purchase of the first home or real estate financing; if they are without a job for three years in a row; or if they have serious illnesses.

In addition to these options, the government recently released two new forms of withdrawal: birthday, in which the worker is entitled to withdraw part of the balance annually, in the month of birth, giving up the withdrawal by termination, and emergency, in the amount of up to R$ 1,045. This alternative, allowed by presidents Michel Temer and Jair Bolsonaro, was not offered this year. According to FGTS advisor Maria Henriqueta Arantes, the three authorized extraordinary withdrawals led to a reduction in the balances of most of the fund’s accounts and, as the economic recovery has been gradual, the accounts have not yet received sufficient contributions to recover.

— A new round of withdrawals it would make the bottom very fragile now and it would result, for the majority, individually withdrawing a very low amount from the FGTS account.

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Profitability in check

The monetary correction of the balance of the FGTS linked accounts is always made on the 10th of each month, and the yield is 3% per year, plus Reference Rate (TR). As the index has been zeroed since September 2017, there is a discussion that this form of remuneration hurts the property right of the worker. If the Supreme considers it unconstitutional, it is estimated that the government would have to bear more than R$540 billion in interest arrears.

— The Supreme can also decide who will be able to request the readjustment based on the new index, if all workers since 1999 or if it will only be valid from now on — explains Ursula.

The president of the Workers’ Guarantee Fund Institute, Mário Avelino, defends the adoption of INPC:

— Today there are about 300,000 suspended actions awaiting judgment by the STF. The worker can still go to court to ask for an update.

Fund enables social investments

FGTS advisor Maria Henriqueta Arantes believes that new proposals for withdrawal modalities should come with a rigorous study of the impact on the Fund’s balance and on the repercussions on its investment program. Although many parliamentarians emphasize that the amount of resources of the Fund is of BRL 584 billion, in addition to meeting daily withdrawals, BRL 405 billion are used in credit operations, BRL 26 billion in specific investment funds, and the remainder is committed to future disbursements for contracted works and the contracting budgets for the coming years. This is because the FGTS resources are used by the government to subsidies in housing programs, in addition to improvements in sanitation and urban infrastructure, without harming workers.

— The fund has a social role that needs to be maintained and defended. In the first half of 2021 alone, R$ 66 billion were placed on the market through withdrawals by workers; R$ 24 billion, in works in progress, not counting the constant generation of new jobs – he argues.

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For her, new methods of looting will mean fewer houses built, less water supply or sewage networks, less modernization of mobility systems. Comparatively, it would be like transferring investment resources and generating new jobs to consumption.

Henriqueta also criticizes, specifically, the project that aims to allow withdrawal of the FGTS at the age of 60:

— It goes against the grain of the new social security system, which sets the minimum retirement age at 62 or 65 after 40 years of contribution. Anticipating age will mean reducing investment targets, without significant benefit to the worker.

Ask your questions

Who is entitled?

CLT workers; domestic servants; professional athletes; temporary, intermittent or detached workers; rural workers and saffrons; and directors who are equivalent to other workers.

linked accounts

The employer, when hiring a person, must open an account linked to the contract on behalf of the employee and pay monthly

active or inactive

Active account is one related to current employment, which receives deposits regularly. Already inactive is related to previous jobs. Even with the termination of the employment contract, the accounts are not closed, and the money continues to yield.

How to check deposits?

For employees with a formal contract, the payment is 8% of the salary and must be made on the 7th of each month. You can check the statement on the Caixa and FGTS websites.

I was fired. When can I withdraw?

The FGTS does not stipulate a deadline.