Government approves draft bills on public sector employment relations

After failing to reach a consensus with the trade unions in the talks on public sector employment relations, the Council of Ministers approved two draft bills on 19 April 2007. These included the proposals for the Law on the employment relationships, careers and wages of public sector employees and the Law concerning the integrated management system and performance assessment in the public administration. Following further debate, they will be presented to the parliament for approval.

In their meeting on 19 April 2007, the Council of Ministers (Conselho de Ministros) approved two draft bills (in Portuguese) concerning employment relations in the public sector. These included the proposals for the Law on the employment relationships, careers and wages of the employees in the public sector and the Law concerning the integrated management system and performance assessment procedures in the public administration.

Provisions of first draft bill

The draft bill issued by the government on the employment relationships, careers and wages of the employees in the public sector is an initiative that has been preceded by a period of negotiations and debates with the trade unions. These negotiations began on 31 January 2007 after the government’s presentation on 24 January of the document ‘Reform of employment relationships, careers and wages in the public sector – main guidelines’ (Reforma dos regimes de vinculação de carreiras e remunerações na administração pública – princípios orientadores (in Portuguese, 43Kb PDF)) ( PT0702059I). However, the government did not reach a consensus with the trade unions during the negotiations. Furthermore, the government proposals in relation to these issues face strong opposition from some of the main public sector trade unions. For example, on 3 April 2007, the Common Front of Public Administration Unions (Frente Comum dos Sindicatos da Administração Pública, FC) called a general strike to take place on 30 May 2007 in protest against the government’s proposals (PT0704069I).

According to the statement issued by the Council of Ministers, the draft bill establishes two types of employment relationships: one that happens by appointment and one by individual employment contract. The typical employment relationship of civil servants is by appointment. This type of relationship will be limited to the functions in the areas of external defence, internal security, the judiciary and the diplomatic service, which contrasts with the previous situation where the education and healthcare sectors were also included. The regime of the individual employment contract in public functions will follow the provisions of the Labour Code but will be adjusted accordingly in order to assure public interests.

Given the fact that general and specific careers are envisaged, the major change proposed by the government is to merge the existing general careers, of which there are around 75, into three categories: high-level staff, technical assistant and operational assistant. In relation to wages, a single wage scale will be created, while wage supplements will be subject to further rationalisation. The bill also introduces a performance bonus to reward employees with higher performance assessment scores.

Provisions of second draft bill

The second draft bill concerning the integrated management system and performance assessment procedures in the public administration aims mainly to revise Law 10/2004 (PT0309101N), which set up an integrated performance assessment for public employees. The new system comprises the following three components:

  • performance assessment of the services provided;
  • performance assessment of the high-level and middle-level managers;
  • performance assessment of all other employees.

The latter area of assessment, which was governed by Law 10/2004, will be subject to change in order to:

  • develop individual goals in line with those of the services and respective outputs;
  • identify employees’ potential for improvement;
  • evaluate the training needs of workers and the adjustment of job profiles and work processes;
  • support career development based on merit and excellence of performance;
  • simplify the present system while ensuring objective assessment.

Commentary

The two draft bills will be subject to public debate and to further negotiations with the social partners, after which they will be presented to the parliament for approval.

Maria da Paz Campos Lima and Reinhard Naumann, Dinâmia

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