Brazil's lower house has approved the preliminary text of a bill opposed by labor unions that would allow companies to outsource their entire labor force.

The Chamber of Deputies voted late Wednesday in favor of the measure and agreed to discuss possible alterations to the measure next week.

After its final approval by the chamber, the bill would have to be approved by the Senate.

Currently, Brazilian companies can only hire outsourced workers for non-core activities like security and cleaning services. The proposed law would permit outsourced employees to work in both core and non-core activities.

Congressman Siba Machado of the governing Workers' Party has said the legislation would allow companies to fire employees and replace them with outsourced workers at lower wages.