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Portugal

Staff

Updated 02/2011

Legal requirements

The Portuguese Labour Code lays down the procedures and rules to be observed with regard to employees.

The Labour Code defines the various types of employment contract – fixed-term or open-ended temporary contract, permanent contract and various forms of service provision – as well as an employer’s obligations with regard to holidays, leave and other employee rights.

The Working Conditions Authority (ACT) is responsible for occupational health and safety issues and also for on-site inspections.

Employment conditions

The guaranteed minimum monthly wage (RMMG) for 2011 is EUR 475. The aim is to increase this to EUR 500 during 2011.

Employers are responsible for determining the working hours of their staff, in accordance with the law and having first consulted the works councils or, where these do not exist, inter-union committees, trade union committees or trade union representatives.

The maximum normal working period is eight hours per day and forty hours per week. The working day must be interrupted by a rest break of between one and two hours, so that employees do not work for more than five hours at a stretch. An average normal working period can be set, to allow for flexible working arrangements.

The working hours of employees must be indicated in a rota, which must be displayed in a prominent place in all workplaces. Employers must send a copy of the work rota to the Working Conditions Authority (ACT) at least 48 hours before it comes into force.

Where several companies, establishments or services operate simultaneously from the same workplace, the employer in whose premises the employees are working must display the various work rotas.

Information on the social security deductions to be made by the employer can be found on the following websites:

The initial period of the contract, known as the trial period, allows the employer and employee to assess whether they want to continue the contract. The employee must be paid during this period, as he or she is already under contract. This period lasts for 90 days for most employees on permanent contracts. For fixed-term temporary contracts, this period is 30 days if the term of the contract is at least six months, and 15 days if the term is less than six months.

During this period, unless otherwise agreed in writing, either party can terminate the contract without prior notice, without having to justify its reasons and without having to pay any compensation. If the trial period lasts longer than 60 days, the employer must give prior notice of seven days in order to terminate the contract.

Employment contracts

A non-permanent employment contract, commonly known as a temporary contract, can only be used to meet the company’s temporary needs and for the period strictly necessary to meet these needs. Temporary contracts can have a fixed term or be open ended.

As a general rule, the term of a temporary contract cannot be less than six months, or more than 18 months in the case of someone starting their first job or three years in other cases, including renewals. This type of contract can be renewed a maximum of three times. In exceptional situations, after a period of three years or two renewals, the contract can be renewed for a final time, for a term of between one and three years.

If the contract exceeds the maximum term or number of renewals, it will then be regarded as a permanent contract, with the worker’s length of service being calculated from the start of his or her employment.

The fixed-term temporary contract will expire at the end of the specified term, provided that the employer or employee notifies in writing their intention to terminate the contract, either 15 or 8 days before the end of the contract.

The open-ended temporary contract will expire when the employer notifies the employee of its termination, by giving prior notice of at least 7, 30 or 60 days depending on whether the contract has lasted less than six months, between six months and two years, or more than two years.

The website of the Working Conditions Authority (ACT) provides further information on temporary contracts, including the rights of employees when contracts are terminated, whether by the employee or by the employer.

Employing foreign nationals

Foreign workers who are permitted to work in Portugal enjoy the same rights and have the same duties as Portuguese workers.

Except when employing foreign nationals from member countries of the European Economic Area and from countries whose nationals must be treated the same as Portuguese nationals, employment contracts entered into with foreign nationals for work in Portugal must always be in writing and must comply with the special formalities laid down in specific legislation.

The National Migrant Assistance Centres (CNAI), which have been set up to tackle the problems faced by migrants, such as health and employment, offer advice and information.

There are minimum social rules to follow, especially about non-discrimination, gender equality and health and safety.

Administrative procedures

Starting and ending employment

An employment contract does not have to be in writing as it can be oral. A written contract is only compulsory in those cases expressly laid down by law, such as promised employment contracts, temporary contracts or contracts with foreign workers.

Contracts that have to be in writing must include the identification and signature of the parties, each of whom must keep a copy.

The employer must provide written information to the employee on various points of the employment contract, including the full identification of the employer, professional category, contract term, holidays, etc.

Every year, between 16 March and 15 April, businesses operating in Portugal must submit a Comprehensive Report for the previous year. This must include the staff list, annual report of the occupational health and safety services, and other information on the company’s social activities. This report must be submitted on-line.

Social security contributions

Businesses which employ staff must register with the social security authorities when the business is set up. Businesses must also register each employee on the day when their contract is signed or on the next day.

The registration of employers with the social security authorities is an administrative measure, which establishes a link with the social security system. It gives them the status of taxpayers.

Businesses can register at District Social Security Centres or at Business and Enterprise Offices within whose geographical area these businesses have their head office or place of business.

The registration of each employee takes effect on the 1st day of the month in which their employment starts. Form RV1005-DGSS can be used for this registration, accompanied by the documents indicated in the form.

Employers must inform the social security authorities when they take on new employees. This must be done in writing, either by using the specific Form RV1009-DGSS or on-line through the Social Security Direct service.

This notification must be made within 24 hours of the employment contract taking effect. In exceptional and duly reasoned cases, it can be made within 24 hours of the employee starting work.

This notification does not release employers from including new employees in the wage return for the month in which they start work. Notification that employees have started work/been hired by a new employer must be made within 24 hours of the employment contract coming into force.

Employers must also provide new employees with a declaration indicating the start date of employment of the employee and the social security (NISS) and tax (NIF) identification numbers of the employer.

If employees are hired in the place where they will work and this is not the employer’s establishment, a copy of the declaration may be issued as evidence of the start date of employment.

When hiring new employees, employers can ask them for information proving their social security status, either through a written declaration from the employee or a declaration from the social security services, preferably obtained on-line from the Social Security Direct service.

Wage return

The On-Line Wage Return service allows the wage return to be submitted on-line by employers who have less than 10 employees on the date when the system is accessed.

Work permits for foreign workers

The Foreign Nationals and Borders Service (SEF) monitors the movement of people across the national borders and also the time spent by foreign nationals and their activities within the national territory.

Dismissals

Any wrongful dismissals or dismissals for political or ideological reasons are prohibited. The usual reasons for termination of an employment contract are: expiry, mutually agreed termination, termination by the employer or employee and resignation by the employee.

Where dismissals are justified, workers are entitled to holiday pay proportional to the time worked up to the date of termination, and also to the respective holiday and Christmas bonuses proportional to the time worked in the year of termination of the contract. If workers have not taken the holiday due to them at the beginning of the year of termination of the contract, they will also be entitled to the corresponding holiday pay and bonuses.

Where workers are wrongfully or unlawfully dismissed, they can request, through a protective order, that the dismissal is suspended. They must request this within five working days of the date when they receive the notice of dismissal.

Workers can also turn to the Industrial Tribunal to assert their rights:

Where the dismissal is found to be unlawful, the employer will be ordered to compensate the worker for all financial and non-material damage caused. The worker will also have the right to be reinstated, except in the case of micro-enterprises or administrative or managerial posts where the employer can prove that reinstating the worker would be extremely detrimental and disruptive to the operation of the business.

  Collective dismissal is where the employer plans to simultaneously or successively terminate the employment contracts of at least two or five workers, depending on whether the business is a micro- or small enterprise or a medium-sized or large enterprise, within a period of three months, for market, structural or technological reasons.

This decision and the reasons for it must be notified in writing to the works council, by giving prior notice of at least 15 days for workers employed for less than a year, 30 days for workers employed for at least one year and less than five years, 60 days for workers employed for at least five years and less than 10 years, and 75 days for workers employed for at least 10 years. In these cases, workers will also have the right to compensation consisting of one month’s basic pay and seniority bonuses for each full year of service, with a minimum of three months.

Dismissal due to a post being abolished is justified for economic reasons not connected with the misconduct of the worker or employer. It must be the case that continuing the employment relationship is virtually impossible, that there are no temporary contracts covering the tasks involved in the post, and that the collective dismissal arrangements do not apply. The worker must be given the appropriate compensation (the same as for collective dismissal) up to the end of the prior notice period.

Resources

The Business Gateway contains information on human resources management, including recruitment, hiring, training, and rights and duties.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity (MTSS) publishes an on-line weekly Work and Employment Bulletin, which provides information on labour regulations, statutes, managing bodies, coordinating committees, careers and temporary employment agencies.

To recruit the best professionals, employers can recruit directly, advertise in the national and local press, or use existing systems such as the Institute of Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP).

The NETemprego website, managed by the IEFP, allows employers to advertise their recruitment needs (vacancies) on-line and also view CVs and directly contact candidates.

Employers can also decide to use temporary employment agencies.

EURES, the European job portal, offers employers information and support on recruiting across the EU. As well as assisting jobseekers, it helps entrepreneurs find workers from across the EU. In border regions, EURES provides information on cross-border commuting and helps workers and employers with problems that may arise.

Programmes

The Institute of Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP) offers employment support and incentives to businesses and public or private non-profit organisations.

The IEFP’s priorities include training, reskilling, and recognition, validation and certification of skills. The IEFP therefore offers a range of vocational training programmes.

The Work Experience Programme was designed to allow young people aged between 16 and 30 years to work in businesses. Some training as well as transport and food subsidies are funded by the IEFP. The programme normally lasts nine months and is also aimed at people with disabilities, to whom the age limit does not apply.

The INOV-JOVEM Programme supports work experiences in SMEs and is aimed at young professionals with higher level qualifications. It complements their qualifications with practical training in a work environment.

The IEFP also offers various support programmes for job creation and retention.

In addition to the IEFP, the Business Gateway also provides information on a targeted work experience programme.

The Commission for Equality in Work and Employment (CITE) annually awards the ‘Equality is Quality’ Prize. This aims to fight gender discrimination at work and in vocational training. It is awarded to companies, cooperatives and associations that have leading policies on equal opportunities.

Help & advice

Help & advice

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