Training labour inspectors, Portugal
This measure involves a training course on the topic of undeclared and irregular work specifically for labour inspectors recruited since 2009, organised by ACT with the objective of understanding the varied forms of undeclared and irregular work in the context of the current legal framework, Domestic work, home working, rural labour, and micro and small enterprises have been identified as areas deserving particular focus as regards undeclared work.
Undeclared work is considered to be a public problem because it leads to difficulties in the funding of social security and barriers to the European social model (full employment productivity at work, quality of life, and social cohesion).
Undeclared work is a complex phenomenon that contradicts and places at risk the paradigm of the European social model. It is therefore very important to establish a strategy to combat it. Government intervention is required for a balanced approach of prevention, law enforcement and sanctions. The Authority for Working Conditions (Autoridade para as Condições de Trabalho, ACT) has here a special responsibility once the fight against undeclared work is part of its mission.
The training provided by ACT to the new labour inspectors on undeclared and irregular work is driven by these concerns.
A training course on the topic of undeclared and irregular work for labour inspectors admitted in 2009 was organised by ACT with the objective of understanding the varied forms of undeclared and irregular work in the context of the current legal framework, and the manifestations and conceptual approaches developed around undeclared work, in order to formulate methodologies and procedures for inspection activities, in line with ACT’s strategic objectives and the public policies.
This training is in accordance with the Decent Work Agenda, and the monitoring activities of working conditions either within the formal or the informal sector of the economy. Domestic work, home working, rural labour, and micro and small enterprises have been identified as areas deserving particular focus as regards undeclared work.
The training of the new labour inspectors included both theoretical and practical parts.
The theoretical part had the following content:
- informal economy;
- undeclared work;
- informal employment;
- work partially undeclared (understatement);
- undeclared work and related phenomena;
- irregular work;
- false self-employment;
- illicit precarious employment;
- posting of irregular workers.
The practical traineeship took place between April 2009 and March 2010, and afterwards during the exercise of their inspection activities.
The training was provided by ACT and addressed to labour inspectors.
Outcome of evaluations: lessons and conclusions
Achievement of objectives
Labour inspectors require a sound and deep knowledge of the labour standards which they are mandated to monitor and what relations and employment contracts they are supposed to observe. Labour inspectors have to deal with different types of company with a diversity of forms of contracts. Therefore, rigorous and continuous training is essential.
Obstacles and problems
Information not available.
The need to create a database to be shared with other public administration bodies on the issue of undeclared work was identified. An example of this is the sharing of this database between the Institute of Social Security (Instituto de Segurança Social, IP) and ACT in order to check the declarations made and the contributions paid.
Another lesson learned refers to the orientations to be given to the labour inspectors on undeclared work. These include decision criteria on how to intervene, according to the available resources, defining the priorities. Special attention should be given to the non-registration of companies and the non-declaration of workers whenever possible combining programmed visits with visits in response to complaints, in order to cover the largest possible number of cases and situations.
This course on undeclared and irregular work included four training actions and 65 labour inspectors were trained by the actions.
Also in 2009, an initial training programme for 148 new labour inspectors included the theme of undeclared work. The same occurs on a regular basis.
A total of over 50% of the labour inspectors are now trained on this topic.
TransferabilityCombating the undeclared work phenomenon depends on decisions taken at the highest political level and with the support of the social partners. As pointed out at the OIT Conference on Labour Inspection (Luxembourg, 2005) ‘globalization constitutes a pressure fact to the fulfilment of economic and social reforms; these reforms will only succeed if there is a strong, competent independent, and with adequate resources labour inspection’. Therefore, training on undeclared work for labour inspectors should be foreseen also at a supra-national level.Contacts
Autoridade para as Condições de Trabalho – ACT (http://www.act.gov.pt)
ACT (2011), Relatório Anual de Actividades 2011 [Annual Activity Report 2011]. Dornelas, António (2010), ‘O trabalho não declarado é invisível?’ [Is undeclared work invisible?], in Dornelas, A., Oliveira, L., Veloso, L., Guerreiro, M. das Dores (orgs.), Portugal Invisível [Invisible Portugal], Mundos Sociais, CIES/ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon, pp. 95-107.
Gonçalves, Nuno (2010), A economia não registada em Portugal [The Non-Recorded economy in Portugal], OBEGEF, Húmus edition.
International Labour Office - ILO (2010), Labour inspection in Europe: undeclared work, migration, trafficking, Labour Administration and Inspection Programme LAB/ADMIN. Geneva, ILO.
Ministério das Finanças (2011), Plano Estratégico de Combate à Fraude e Evasão Fiscais e Aduaneiras 2012-2014 [Strategic Plan to Combat Tax and Customs Fraud and Evasion 2012-2014].
Público (2012), ‘Economia paralela subiu em Portugal e vale quase 25% do PIB’, 16 January 2012.
Heloísa Perista, Janine Nunes and Paula Carrilho