Bordered by Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is quickly becoming one of Europe’s most important hubs for startups and tech. With an economy that keeps growing, Portugal is a popular destination for digital nomads and workers at major tech companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.
In Portugal, employee rights are protected by a comprehensive set of labor laws and regulations aimed at ensuring fair treatment, job security, and decent working conditions for all workers.
These rights encompass various aspects of the employer-employee relationship, including minimum wage, working hours, paid leave, and protection against discrimination and unfair dismissal.
Portugal's legal framework help foster a workplace environment that values equity and respect for workers' rights. This guide provides a glimpse into the essential principles that underpin employee rights in Portugal.
Employee rights in Portugal are established and protected by several key laws and legal instruments.
Some fundamental laws that give employee rights in Portugal include:
Labor Code (Código do Trabalho): The Labor Code is the cornerstone of employment legislation in Portugal. It addresses a wide range of employment-related matters, including working hours, employment contracts, termination procedures, leave entitlements, and collective labor relations.
Constitution of the Portuguese Republic: The Portuguese Constitution sets out fundamental principles and rights, including the right to work, the right to fair and equal treatment, and the right to join trade unions and engage in collective bargaining.
Foreign workers in Portugal generally have the same rights and protections as Portuguese workers, as long as they are legally employed and their work situation complies with Portuguese labor laws and regulations.
Here are some of the key rights that foreign workers can typically expect in Portugal:
Maternity and Paternity Rights
Collective Bargaining Agreements
Residence and Work Permits.
Occupational Health and Safety
Remote workers in Portugal are entitled to various rights and protections under Portuguese labor laws, even if they work from a location other than the employer's physical premises.
Here are some of the key rights and considerations for remote workers in Portugal:
Employment Contract: Remote workers should have a clear and legally binding employment contract that outlines the terms and conditions of their remote work arrangement. This contract should include details such as working hours, compensation, responsibilities, and any specific conditions related to remote work.
Working Hours: Remote workers are subject to the same working hour regulations as on-site workers. They should have defined working hours, rest periods, and overtime provisions in accordance with Portuguese labor laws.
Minimum Wage: Remote workers are entitled to receive at least the national minimum wage, as established by law. Employers must ensure that remote workers' compensation meets or exceeds this minimum threshold.
Leave Entitlements: Remote workers have the same entitlements to 22 days of annual paid leave, public holidays, and sick leave as on-site workers. These entitlements should be outlined in their employment contract and should comply with labor laws.
Data Protection: Employers must comply with data protection regulations when collecting and processing remote workers' personal data. Remote workers' privacy and data security should be respected and protected.
Occupational Health and Safety: Employers have a responsibility to ensure the occupational health and safety of remote workers. This includes providing appropriate equipment, training, and support to maintain a safe work environment at the remote location.
Expense Reimbursement: Depending on the employment contract and company policies, remote workers may be entitled to reimbursement for work-related expenses, such as internet connectivity, phone bills, or equipment maintenance.
Social Security Benefits: Remote workers in Portugal are typically eligible for social security benefits, such as healthcare and pensions, as long as they are legally employed and contribute to the social security system.
In Portugal, employment contracts are required by law when an employment relationship is established. Employment contracts serve as a legal framework that outlines the terms and conditions of employment between the employer and the employee.
Portugal has specific regulations governing the content and format of employment contracts, including information about:
Identification of the parties
Duration of the contract
In Portugal, employees are protected against unfair dismissal through labor laws and regulations that establish certain rights and protections for workers.
The key aspects of protection against unfair dismissal in Portugal include:
Just Cause for Termination: Employers can terminate employment contracts only for just cause. Just cause typically includes reasons such as gross misconduct, serious breaches of contract, or economic and structural reasons within the company that necessitate layoffs.
Notice Period: Employers must provide notice to employees before terminating their contracts, except in cases of serious misconduct. The length of the notice period depends on the length of service and is typically stipulated in the employment contract or collective bargaining agreement. During the notice period, the employee is entitled to continue working and receiving their salary.
Severance Pay: In some cases, employees who are unfairly dismissed may be entitled to severance pay or compensation. The amount of severance pay depends on the employee's length of service and other factors.
Collective Dismissals: In cases of collective dismissals (layoffs), employers must follow specific legal procedures, including notifying and consulting with employee representatives, providing advance notice, and offering social plans to mitigate the impact on affected employees.
Protected Categories: Special protections exist for certain categories of employees, such as pregnant women, individuals on parental leave, and employees with disabilities. Dismissing employees in these categories may require additional justification and adherence to specific legal procedures.
Legal Remedies: Employees who believe they have been unfairly dismissed can challenge their terminations through the legal system. They may seek reinstatement, compensation, or other remedies through labor courts or dispute resolution mechanisms.
Anti-Retaliation Protections: Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who assert their rights or file complaints related to their employment. Retaliation can lead to additional legal consequences for the employer.
The Portuguese Constitution guarantees the right to equality and prohibits gender-based discrimination, forming the bedrock for anti-harassment measures.
The Labor Code mandates employers to create harassment-free environments, offering clear definitions of sexual harassment and establishing confidential reporting procedures.
The Portuguese Labor Code protects against discrimination in the workplace during onboarding, hiring, during working hours, and when considering promotions and training.
Employers in Portugal are prohibited from discriminating against someone because of:
In Portugal, personal employee information is protected through a combination of laws and regulations, primarily governed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU.
The GDPR is a European Union regulation that establishes a comprehensive framework for the protection of personal data. It applies to all EU member states.The GDPR sets out principles and requirements for processing personal data, including employee data.
Under this legislation:
Data can only be collected for legitimate and specific purposes
Employers may not keep this data for any longer than what they need it for
Data must always be complete and correct
Eligible reasons is only necessary for the performance of a contract, a specific legal obligation, of the employer has a explicit need
Employees must receive notification of how their data is being collected, what it’s being processed for, and how it’s being used by their employer
Employees in Portugal have important protections when it comes to their rights to join, form, or participate in labor unions.
These protections include the right to organize and engage in collective bargaining, strike when necessary, and advocate for improved working conditions without fear of discrimination or retaliation.
Portuguese labor laws safeguard union activities, making it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on their union involvement. Unions play a crucial role in representing workers' interests, negotiating labor agreements, and advocating for labor rights, thereby contributing to a fair and balanced labor environment in Portugal.
In Portugal, employees are entitled to various types of leave to address different life situations and needs.
Here are some of the most common types of employee leave in Portugal:
Annual Leave (Férias Anuais Remuneradas): Employees in Portugal are entitled to paid annual leave. The minimum annual leave period is 22 working days, but it can vary based on the employment contract, seniority, and other factors. Annual leave is an essential benefit that allows employees to take a break from work and recharge.
Sick Leave (Baixa Médica): Employees who are ill or injured and unable to work due to a medical condition can take sick leave. During sick leave, employees receive a portion of their salary, typically paid by Social Security, the employer, or a combination of both.
Parental Leave (Licença Parental): Portugal provides parental leave to allow parents to care for their newborns or adopted children. Parental leave is divided into maternity leave (for mothers), paternity leave (for fathers), and parental leave that can be taken by either parent. The duration and conditions of these leaves may vary.
Adoption Leave (Licença por Adoção): Employees who adopt a child may be entitled to adoption leave. The duration of this leave varies depending on the age of the adopted child and other factors.
Bereavement Leave (Licença por Falecimento): Employees are typically granted 3 days of paid leave in the event of the death of a close family member, such as a spouse, child, or parent.
Unpaid Leave (Licença sem Vencimento): In some cases, employees may request unpaid leave for personal reasons, such as further education, travel, or personal projects. Employers have the discretion to grant or deny such requests.
The social security system in Portugal is a comprehensive and inclusive safety net designed to provide financial support and social protection to its residents.
It covers various aspects of social welfare, including healthcare, pensions, unemployment benefits, and family support.
Contributions to the social security system are mandatory for both employees and employers and are typically deducted from salaries. Portugal's social security system ensures access to healthcare services through the National Health Service (SNS) and provides pensions to retirees based on their contributions during their working years.
Companies that want to hire workers and expand Portugal need to have a comprehensive HR system and team in place to help navigate and manage compliance and employee rights.
As a global EOR provider, Via makes hiring Portuguese talent and building your global team seamless. Instead of having to learn every specific nuance in every province, you can focus on finding the talent that fits your company. Whether you need to hire remote workers or independent contractors in Portugal, we support you throughout the entire process. Via helps you manage local HR processes for direct employment such as work visas & permits, benefits, payroll, background checks, and more. Our team of local labor lawyers and on-the-ground experts ensure that your company remains compliant while expanding abroad. As your employer-of-record/entity in Portugal, Via assumes responsibility for employment liability, so that you can focus on what matters: recruiting and managing your team.