Living and working in Portugal

12 august 2021

Data source: Eurostat

Eurofound provides research, data and analysis on a wide range of social and work-related topics. This information is largely comparative, but also offers country-specific information for each of the 28 EU Member States, which included the UK prior to its withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020. Most information is available in English but some has been translated to facilitate access at national level.

Eurofound strives to strengthen the ongoing link between its own work and national policy debates and priorities related to quality of life and work. Increasingly important in this context are the EU’s policy priorities for a European Green Deal, a digital future, an economy that works for people, promoting and strengthening European democracy. To help repair the economic and social damage caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU leaders have also agreed on a recovery plan that will lead the way out of the crisis and lay the foundations for a modern and more sustainable Europe. The EU’s long-term budget, coupled with NextGenerationEU, the temporary instrument designed to boost the recovery, will be the largest stimulus package ever financed through the EU budget to help rebuild a post-COVID-19 Europe. 

The European Semester provides a framework for the coordination of economic policies across the EU. It allows Member States to discuss their economic and budget plans and monitor progress at specific times throughout the year. For 2021, the European Semester will be temporarily adapted to coordinate it with the Recovery and Resilience Facility to address the impact of the crisis caused by the pandemic. As part of this, Member States are encouraged to submit national reform programmes and recovery and resilience plans in a single integrated document. These plans will provide an overview of the reforms and investments that Member States will undertake in line with the objectives of the Facility.

2015 Eurofound EWCS survey results in Portugal: 87% of people think their safety is not at risk because of their work

Living and working in Portugal and COVID-19

COVID-19 continues to have a profound impact on people’s lives across the globe, with major implications for quality of life and work. Eurofound has taken a multipronged response to the pandemic, adapting its research focus in a variety of ways. A new database of national-level policy responses, COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, collates information on measures taken by government and social partners, as well as company practices, aiming to cushion the effects of the crisis. Eurofound's unique e-survey, Living, working and COVID-19, provides an insight into the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives across the EU, with the aim of helping policymakers to bring about an equal recovery from the crisis. Three rounds of the survey have been carried out to date: in April 2020 when most Member States were in lockdown, in July 2020 when society and economies were slowly reopening, and in March 2021 as countries dealt again with various levels of lockdown and vaccine rollout. The survey investigates the impact on quality of life and society, democracy and trust, working and teleworking, the financial situation and security of people, the quality of public services, support measures and vaccinations during COVID-19. Findings for each country and a range of data pages are now available.

Explore our data pages by country to find out more on the situation in Portugal.

 

The country page gives access to Eurofound's most recent survey data and news, directly related to Portugal:

Research carried out prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020, and published subsequently, may include data relating to the 28 EU Member States. Following this date, research only takes into account the 27 EU Member States (EU28 minus the UK), unless specified otherwise.

Survey results

Ability to choose or change
methods of work

Data source: 2015 EWCS survey

Possibility to accumulate overtime
for days off

Data source: 2013 ECS survey

Recent developments

Eurofound contacts in Portugal

Correspondents in Portugal

Correspondents report on topics related to developments in the country's working life and inform Eurofound’s pan-European comparative analysis. Read more

Consortium Study Centre for Social Intervention (CESIS) / Centre for Socioeconomic and Territorial Studies (ISCTE-IUL)

Eurofound Management Board members form Portugal

Eurofound's Management Board is made up of representatives of the social partners and national governments of all Member States, European Commission representatives and an independent expert appointed by the European Parliament. Read more

Nelson Ferreira Authority for Working Conditions

Marcelino Pena Costa Confederation of Trade and Services of Portugal - CCP

Augusto Coelho Praça General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers (CGTP-IN)  

Related content

Other country-specific information may be available in certain areas on demand. Please feel free to contact your country contact at Eurofound for this or any other information at information@eurofound.europa.eu

Living in Portugal

Quality of life

Quality of life

Eurofound’s European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) shows that both life satisfaction and happiness have increased in Portugal during the years of observation. Average life satisfaction increased from 6.0 in 2003 to 6.9 in 2016, but still slightly lower than the EU28 average of 7.1 (on a scale of 1–10). Similarly, happiness increased from 6.9 in 2003 to 7.5 in 2016, which was slightly above the EU28 average of 7.4.

Respondents in Portugal are less optimistic than people on average in the EU: 54% of respondents were optimistic about their own future in 2016, in comparison to 64% on average in the EU. Similarly, 54% of respondents were optimistic about their children’s or grandchildren’s future in 2016, again lower than the EU average of 57%.

  2003200720112016
Life satisfactionMean (1-10)6.06.26.86.9
Taking all things together on a scale of 1 to 10, how happy would you say you are?Mean (1-10)6.96.97.27.5
Optimism about own futureAgree & strongly agree---54%
Optimism about children’s or grandchildren’s futureAgree & strongly agree---54%
Take part in sports or physical exerciseAt least once a week--25%39%
In general, how is your health?Very good-11%16%19%
WHO-5 mental wellbeing indexMean (1-100)-606666
Making ends meetWith some difficulty, difficulty, and great difficulty41%33%41%37%
I feel I am free to decide how to live my lifeStrongly agree--29%19%
I find it difficult to deal with important problems that come up in my lifeAgree & strongly agree---18%
When things go wrong in my life, it generally takes me a long time to get back to normalAgree & strongly agree---19%

Work-life balance

Work-life balance

The frequency of work–life balance problems in Portugal is close to the average EU level. For instance, 53% of respondents were too tired from work to do household jobs at least several times a month in 2016, compared with the EU28 average of 59%. Additionally, 36% of respondents in Portugal had difficulties to fulfil family responsibilities because of work at least several times a month, just slightly lower than the EU28 average of 38%.The least common work–life balance problem was having difficulties to concentrate at work because of family responsibilities, reported by 22% of respondents in Portugal in 2016, which was slightly above the corresponding EU28 average of 19%.

  2003200720112016
(At least several times a month)   
I have come home from work too tired to do some of the household jobs which need to be doneTotal55%46%49%53%
Men49%42%43%51%
Women64%51%56%55%
      
It has been difficult for me to fulfil my family responsibilities because of the amount of time I spend on the jobTotal38%29%27%36%
Men37%27%25%35%
Women40%31%28%36%
      
I have found it difficult to concentrate at work because of my family responsibilitiesTotal23%15%17%22%
Men21%14%16%22%
Women26%17%18%22%

Quality of society

Quality of society

Perceived tensions between poor and rich people have decreased in Portugal, from 25% of respondents reporting a lot of tension in 2003 to 11% in 2016. This is also significantly below the EU28 average of 29% in 2016. Perceived tensions between different racial and ethnic groups have also decreased, from 37% of respondents reporting a lot of this type of tension in 2003 to 21% in 2016. This share is low compared with the EU28 average of 41%.

Only 5% of respondents in Portugal reported their involvement in unpaid voluntary work at least once a month in 2016, half the EU28 average of 10%.
 

  2003200720112016
Social exclusion indexMean (1-5)-2.22.12.1
Trust in peopleMean (1-10)5.04.34.34.7
Involvement in unpaid voluntary work% 'at least once a month'--7%5%
Tension between poor and rich people% reporting 'a lot of tension'25%23%21%11%
Tension between different racial and ethnic groups% reporting 'a lot of tension'37%22%21%21%
I feel safe when I walk alone after darkStrongly agree---29%

Quality of public services 

Quality of public services 

Quality ratings for seven public services

Note: scale of 1-10, Source: EQLS 2016.

The perceived quality of health services has increased in Portugal, from 4.9 in 2003 to 6.3 in 2016, advancing towards the EU28 average of 6.7 (on a scale of 1–10). Similar positive patterns can also be observed in the perceived quality of the education system and childcare services. However, the perceived quality of long-term care services has decreased in Portugal, from 5.4 in 2011 to 5.0 in 2016. The perceived quality of the state pension system deteriorated between 2003 and 2007, from 5.1 to 3.3, but has since improved slightly to 4.2 in 2016. All of the quality ratings for public services in Portugal are below their respective EU28 averages.

  2003200720112016
Health servicesMean (1-10)4.94.95.56.3
Education systemMean (1-10)5.45.45.86.5
Public transportMean (1-10)5.65.75.85.8
Childcare servicesMean (1-10)-5.66.06.2
Long-term care servicesMean (1-10)--5.45.0
Social housingMean (1-10)--5.45.3
State pension systemMean (1-10)5.13.34.04.2

Working life in Portugal

About

  • Forfatter: Heloísa Perista, Maria da Paz Campos Lima and Paula Carrilho
  • Institution: CESIS
  • Published on: Torsdag, august 12, 2021

This profile describes the key characteristics of working life in Portugal. It aims to complement other EurWORK research by providing the relevant background information on the structures, institutions and relevant regulations regarding working life. This includes indicators, data and regulatory systems on the following aspects: actors and institutions, collective and individual employment relations, health and well-being, pay, working time, skills and training, and equality and non-discrimination at work. The profiles are updated annually.

Highlights – Working life in 2020

Highlights – Working life in 2020

Author: Maria da Paz Campos Lima and Paula Carrilho 
Institution: Centre for Studies for Social Intervention (CESIS)
Highlights updated on: 15 March 2021
Working paper: Portugal: Working life in the COVID-19 pandemic 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and the singularity of the double crisis of supply and demand related to the lockdowns and the restrictions on internal and external mobility saw the country experience its severest economic downturn in recent history. The positive trajectory of recovery, observed in particular since 2015, has been reversed during the pandemic, including with regard to gross domestic product, employment, wages and collective bargaining and inequality and poverty.

The crisis demonstrated the fragility of the Portuguese economy with regard to the tourism sector, which was the first to be affected; the vulnerability of employment relations, characterised by high levels of precariousness and ‘bogus’ self-employment, with workers in such forms of employment the first to be fired; and the long-lasting legacy of the troika, in particular with respect to dismissals and the protection of unemployed and vulnerable groups.

Compared with the period of austerity, which lasted from 2011 to 2014, there were no reductions in nominal wages, freezing of the minimum wage or reductions in unemployment and social benefits during 2020. Instead, steps were taken in the opposite direction, although these were limited to responding to the sudden and dramatic economic and social emergency. Concerns over the escalating public expense and social security sustainability and uncertainties about the medium-term financial impacts of more robust policies compromised the ambition of the measures.

Formally, all labour market industrial relations institutions functioned normally, but the pressure was enormous in terms of the depth of the challenges and the timing. Although regular tripartite national meetings or regular bargaining rounds continued, the pressing agenda made it difficult to reach agreements. Widespread unemployment, high numbers of demoralised workers, employees being locked down and receiving two-thirds of their salary during the first phase of the pandemic, a new wave of workers being restricted to telework with no previous experience, workers in essential services fearing for their safety and the problems related to the consultation of workers together represented a ‘perfect storm’, limiting trade unions’ power and capacity. Furthermore, worrying signals of exceptional authoritarian rule were observed in connection with the ‘state of emergency’, including temporary limits on the right to strike in critical services and the right of workers’ representatives to be consulted about draft laws. The escalation of the pandemic in January 2021 led to the reintroduction of lockdown measures and the same concerns as in the first wave. The pressure to address new issues and define a more ambitious agenda in terms of working conditions, employment relations and social protection increased. The government’s proposed Green Paper on the future of labour will address some of these problems, in particular the developments accelerated by the pandemic regarding platform work, telework and remote work.

Key figures

Key figures

Comparative figures on working life in Portugal

 

2019

2020

% (point) change 2012 –2019

% (point) change 2019 –2020

 

Portugal

EU27

Portugal

EU27

Portugal

EU27

Portugal

EU27

GDP per capita

18,630

27,970

17,180

26,230

15.6%

11.5%

-7.8%

-6.2%

Unemployment rate – total

6.5

6.7

6.9

7.1

-9.3

-4.1

0.4

0.4

Unemployment rate – women

7.2

7

7.1

7.3

-8.5

-4.0

-0.1

0.3

Unemployment rate – men

5.9

6.4

6.6

6.8

-10.0

-4.3

0.7

0.4

Unemployment rate – youth

18.3

15

22.6

16.8

-19.6

-8.7

4.3

1.8

Employment rate – total

75.5

73.4

74.3

72.9

2.1

2.4

-1.2

-0.5

Employment rate – women

72.9

67.9

71.8

67.5

3.2

3.0

-1.1

-0.4

Employment rate – men

78.3

79

76.9

78.3

1.0

1.8

-1.4

-0.7

Employment rate – youth

34.3

39.4

30.2

37.9

-2.8

-0.4

-4.1

-1.5

Source: Eurostat – Real GDP per capita (chain linked volumes [2010], in EUR) and percentage change 2012–2020 (both based on sdg_08_10). Unemployment rate by sex and age – annual average (15–74 years, % active population) and youth (15–24 years) % [une_rt_a]; Employment rate by sex and age – annual average (15–64 years, unit % total population, employment indicator active population) % [lfsi_emp_a].

Background

Background

Economic and labour market context

Between 2012 and 2019, Portugal’s GDP grew by 15.6%, higher than the EU average of 11.1% increase for the same period. In 2019, the unemployment rate reached 6.5%, the lowest level since 2002.Youth unemployment decreased and stood at 18.3% in 2019, higher than the EU27 average of 15%. Female employment rate increased slightly from 2012 and stood at 72.9% in 2019, higher than the EU average of 67.9%. Total employment rate in 2019 was 75.5%, slightly higher that the EU27 average for the same year, 73.4%.

More information on:

Legal context

The main legislation covering the employment relationship and industrial relations in force are the Labour Code (Código de Trabalho) that regulates the private sector and the General Labour Law in Public Functions (Lei Geral do Trabalho em Funções Públicas) that regulates the public sector.

The 2009 Labour Code was subject to seven amendments between 2011 and 2014, during the centre right government PSD/CDS, mostly to comply with the requirements of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Troika institutions – the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These amendments introduced regulations to increase labour market flexibility and decentralise collective bargaining (Law 23/2012), to allow the suspension of collective agreements in companies in crisis and to shorten the periods of validity and survival of collective agreements (Law 55/2014). The rules on the extension of collective agreements were modified by Resolution 90/2012 which introduced criteria based on employers’ associations representativeness (to employ more than 50% of all employees in the industry concerned); and later by Resolution 43/2014 that added new alternative criteria, i.e., that the number of members of the employers’ association consist at least of 30% of micro, small and medium enterprises. The amendments introduced in 2015 aimed at improving gender equality at work and parental rights.

In the new political cycle (2015-2019, the government of the Socialist Party took the initiative of a wide range of legislative changes:

In 2016 the Law 8/2016 re-established four civil and religious holidays; and the Law 28/2016 introduced new rules to combat modern forms of forced labour, considering not only the criminal responsibility of subcontractors and temporary staffing agencies, but also the responsibility of company users. In the public sector, the most important changes were the reversal of nominal wages cuts that had been in place since 2011 and the re-establishment of the 35 hour week in the public sector, through the second amendment (Law 18/2016) to the General Labour Law in Public Functions.

In 2017, the Resolution 82/2017 established new rules on the extension of collective agreements, replacing the criteria of representativeness/representation of employer associations, by new criteria with focus on inclusiveness and reduction of inequality; and the Law 73/2017 reinforced the legal framework regulating harassment at work in the private and public sectors.

In 2018, the Law 14/2018 established that in the case of transfer of business or establishment, the workers retain all contractual and acquired rights, namely remuneration, seniority, professional category and functional content and social benefits acquired; and the Law 60/2018 introduced measures to promote equality of remuneration between women and men, including regular information assessing differences in remuneration per company, occupation and qualification level, and transparency rules to prevent wage discrimination.

In 2019, the Law 93/2019 that came into force on 1 October 2019, introduced significant changes to the Labour Code (Eurofound, 2018, 2019, 2020; Campos Lima and Perísta, 2020; Campos Lima, 2020). This legislation introduced new rules to combat labour market segmentation, reducing the duration of fixed term contracts to a maximum of two years and of three renewals; restricted their use only to temporary needs; and created an ‘additional contribution for excessive turnover’ to be applied to companies with an annual share of fixed-term contracts higher than the sector average turnover (a measure planned to take effect in practice in 2021). However, two measures introduced by this law created potential risks of precariousness: the extension of the trial period from 90 days to 180 days for first job seekers and long term unemployed, when hired in open-ended contracts; and the extension of the ‘fixed term contracts of very short duration’ from 15 to 35 days, allowing their use beyond agricultural and tourism activities. This legislation introduced also changes to the collective bargaining framework (see next section) and working time regulation (see section working time regulation) (Campos Lima, 2020; Campos Lima and Perísta, 2020).

Industrial relations context

In Portugal, industrial relations democratic institutions emerged in the context of the revolutionary transition to democracy post 1974. After almost half a century of dictatorship and the longest authoritarian corporatism in Europe (Wiarda, 1977; Schmitter, 1982, 1999), the new democratic state played a major role in the 1970s to improve labour standards and in the configuration of the system of industrial relations. The political influence of trade union and employer confederations was encouraged by the institutionalisation of tripartite concertation, a process that started in 1984 and gained increasing relevancy (Campos Lima and Naumann, 2011). In the late 1980s and in the 1990s, tripartite social pacts played a central role in conditioning collective bargaining towards wage moderation, although CGTP – the most representative trade union confederation – did not sign them. In contrast, UGT signed all those social pacts.

The Labour Code 2003, a centre–right government initiative, reversed the principle of favor laboratoris and introduced mechanisms to speed up the termination of collective agreements and reduce their period of validity after expiring. It paved the way for employers to withdraw unilaterally from existing collective agreements, but due to loopholes in the law, this did not apply to some very important agreements. Collective bargaining entered into crisis in 2004, with a sharp decline of the level of renewals of collective agreements and respective coverage (only 600,000 workers).

During the PS government mandate (2005–2009), the recovery of collective bargaining was facilitated by the medium-term tripartite agreement in 2006 on the trajectory of the minimum wage signed by all social partners. By the year 2008, when the international financial crisis occurred, around 1,800,000 workers were covered by collective agreement renewals, representing around 65% of total employees (excluding public administration). The 2009 Labour Code, a socialist government initiative, introduced significant changes in the collective bargaining framework: re-established partially the favor laboratoris principle; introduced the possibility of non-union negotiations at firm level based on trade union mandate; and further facilitated the unilateral ‘caducity’ of collective agreements and reduced their survival period, removing the obstacles for the withdrawal from agreements. (Campos Lima and Abrantes 2016; Campos Lima, 2019).

The measures and legislation imposed in the period 2011–2014, during the centre–right coalition PSD/CDS, in line with MoU requirements (and beyond), reduced even more drastically the bargaining power of trade unions. Legislation gave more room for non-union representatives to negotiate at firm level. The period of survival of collective agreements was even more reduced, encouraging employers to withdraw unilaterally from existing agreements. Stricter conditions (based on representativeness of employer organisations) were required for the extension of collective agreements. It became possible to proceed to the suspension (derogation) of collective agreements for companies in crisis. All these changes combined with the economic crisis led to a dramatic decline in the level of collective agreement renewals and workers covered, which reached the lowest historical levels in 2012, 2013 and 2014 (Campos Lima, 2019).

Since 2015, the positive developments in economic growth and employment and a number of pro-labour and social measures including the regular increase of the minimum wage launched by the PS government in alliance with the left parties - the Left Bloc (Bloco de Esquerda, BE), the Communist Party (Partido Comunista, PCP) and the Ecologist Green Party (Partido Ecologista ‘Os Verdes’, PEV) contributed positively for industrial relations. These developments and new rules facilitating extension (see extension mechanisms), contributing for some recovery of collective bargaining, but not reaching the levels observed before the international crisis. Tripartite concertation regained importance with tripartite agreements signed in 2016, 2017 and 2018, the two last encompassing a large range of measures.

Following the Tripartite Agreement on Combating Precarious Work and Labour Market Segmentation and Promoting Greater Dynamism in Collective Bargaining signed in 2018, the Law 93/2019 amending the Labour Code that came into force on 1 October 2019 reconfigured the collective bargaining framework in particular in relation to the expiry of collective agreements, although it did not reverse the possibility of unilateral caducity (see section expiry of agreements). Also it created a new challenge to collective bargaining by allowing that ‘group working time accounts’ can be decided and implemented either by collective agreements or by company referenda organized by the employers (see section working time regulation).

Contentious and open issues remain in relation to labour legislation and collective bargaining legal framework, which have been stressed by CGTP, the largest trade union confederation, In particular CGTP claims an in-depth revision of the legal framework of collective bargaining in order to fully re-establish the principle of favor laboratoris and to allow collective agreements to expire only following a joint decision of the signatory parties. So far, those claims were not successful.

In the public sector, after the PS government implemented the reversal of nominal wage cuts and the re-establishment of the 35 hours week, turning the page of austerity, but no major outcomes in collective bargaining have been achieved in terms of wages (frozen almost a decade). The trade unions pressure intensified in the last quarter of 2018 and during 2019, without success. Restrictions on public expenses have been playing an important role in the government argumentation to justify the deadlock.

Actors and institutions

Actors and institutions

Trade unions, employers’ organisations and public institutions play a key role in the governance of the employment relationship, working conditions and industrial relations structures. They are interlocking parts in a multilevel system of governance that includes European, national, sectoral, regional (provincial or local) and company levels. This section looks into the main actors and institutions and their role in Portugal.

Public authorities involved in regulating working life

In Portugal, the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity, and Social Security (Ministério do Trabalho, Solidariedade e Segurança Social, MTSSS) approves and implements policies related to employment, vocational and qualification training, labour market and industrial relations through the Directorate-General for Employment and Labour Relations (Direção-Geral do Emprego e das Relações de Trabalho, DGERT) and the Authority for Working Conditions (Autoridade para as Condições do Trabalho, ACT). DGERT is responsible for supporting the development of policies, legislation and regulations on employment and vocational training and on industrial relations, including working conditions and health, safety and well-being at work.

ACT is responsible for promoting improved working conditions by ensuring compliance with labour regulations and for promoting occupational risk prevention policies in public administration departments and bodies, and in all sectors of activity.

Two other bodies are able to pursue inquiries in cases of occupational disease or other damage to health that occurred during work or are related to work. The Social Security Institute (Instituto da Segurança Social, ISS), through the Protection against Occupational Risks Department (Departamento de Proteção Contra os Riscos Profissionais), is responsible for managing the treatment and recovery from illness or disability arising from occupational hazards. The Directorate-General of Health (Direção-Geral da Saúde, DGS) is one of the main stakeholders in the definition, promotion and enforcement of occupational health policy, through its Environmental and Occupational Health Division (Divisão de Saúde Ambiental e Ocupacional). The DGS is responsible for promoting the assessment of the relationships between work and health/ill health and evaluating the impact of work on health (disability and death). It is also responsible for supporting the development of policies, legislation, regulations, guidelines, etc. on health surveillance.

Representativeness

Portuguese legislation does not provide rules regarding criteria and mechanisms to access the representativeness of trade unions and employer associations and regarding the implications of representativeness in social dialogue institutions and collective bargaining. All officially registered unions or employer associations are entitled to engage in collective bargaining. What counts is mutual recognition.

The MoU required that the extension of collective agreements should be based on representativeness, both of trade unions and employer associations. The legal changes in 2012 and in 2014 referred only to employer representativeness/representation. In the 2012 version, they had to represent 50% of employment in the sector, in many sectors an impossible target. In the 2014 version their membership had to include 30% of micro, small and medium enterprises, to be allowed to extend the collective agreements.

These rules were withdrawn in 2017 for a number of reasons: the negative impact in collective bargaining, by reducing the number of extensions and the number of updated collective agreements and their coverage; the weakness of employers’ associations as highlighted by the Green Paper on Labour Relations 2016, with only 19% of companies in Portugal in 2014 claiming to be affiliated to employer associations; and the fact that both employer confederations and trade union confederations were opposed or reticent to criteria of the extension based on representativeness/representation. In May 2017 Resolution 82/2017 (PDF) replaced the criteria of representativeness/representation of employer associations by new criteria for the extension of collective agreements: the effect on the wage bill and economic impacts; the level of the wage increase; the impact on the wage scale and on the reduction of inequality; the percentage of workers to be covered (in total and by gender); and the proportion of women that will benefit.

More information on representativeness of the main social partner organisations can be found in Eurofound’s representativeness study of the cross-industry social partners or in Eurofound’s sectoral representativeness studies.

Trade unions

About trade union representation

The right to organise in a trade union (liberdade sindical) is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic and by the Labour Code. Very few groups are excluded from this right, namely members of the armed forces and militarised security forces.

Measuring trade union membership in Portugal is a particularly difficult task because most unions do not provide updated and accurate information. Since 2010, the annual mandatory survey (Relatório Único/Ordinance 55/2010) for all companies in the market sector (Relatório Único/Ordinance 55/2010) includes a question to employers about the number of employees affiliated to trade unions. As highlighted in the Green Paper on Labour Relations 2016, the percentage of companies that indicate unionised workers is less than 4% and the data on unionised workers points to a union density between 11% and 9% in the period of 2010-2014. Furthermore, these data do not include the public sector where trade union density is always much higher.

Published data (AIAS-ICTWSS database, 2021) shows a remarkable stability of union density in Portugal until 2011. According to this database, CGTP comprised around 460,000 members in 2011 and UGT around 193,000 in the same year and independent unions comprised around 19,000 members; and in 2016 (the most recent data), CGTP comprised 400,000 members, UGT around 160,000 members, and independent unions comprised 19,000 members. There is some discrepancy between this data and the own assessment by trade union confederations, in particular by UGT. CGTP reported they had lost almost 64,000 members between 2012 and 2016 (CGTP, 2016); but that they had a significant increase in the last four years with more 132,541 members (CGTP, 2020; Porfírio, 2020). UGT reported (replies to a cross-sectoral representativeness study questionnaire) they had lost 20,000 members between 2012 and 2016, and 8,000 between 2016 and 2010 (UGT, 2013, 2017).

Trade union membership and trade union density

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Source

Trade union density in terms of active employees

16.1%

15.3%

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

OECD/AIAS ICTWSS Database 2021

Trade union membership in 1000s

596

579

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

OECD/AIAS ICTWSS Database 2021

Main trade union confederations and federations

There are two trade union confederations (CGTP and UGT) that have access to tripartite social concertation at macro level (Standing Committee for Social Concertation, CPCS).

Main trade union confederations and federations

Long name

Abbreviation

Members

Involved in collective bargaining

General Confederation of Portuguese Workers (Confederação Geral dos Trabalhadores Portugueses – Intersindical Nacional)

CGTP-IN

In 2016: 400,000

Source: ICTWSS Database 6.1; February 2021 in XLSX, J. Visser, (AIAS) , University of Amsterdam

In 2016: 423,822

In 2020: 556.363

Source: CGTP (2016, 2020); and CGTP answer to a cross-sectoral representativeness study questionnaire.

No, not directly (only via its member organisations)

General Union of Workers (União Geral de Trabalhadores)

UGT

In 2016: 160,000.

Source: ICTWSS Database 6.1; February 2021 in XLSX, J. Visser, (AIAS) ), University of Amsterdam

In 2016: 458,000

In 2020: 450,000

Source: UGT (2013, 2017); UGT answer to a cross-sectoral representativeness study questionnaire.

No, not directly (only via its member organisations)

Union Federation of Financial Sector (Federação Nacional do Sector Financeiro)

FEBASE (UGT)

Around 72,000 members

Source: Data based on results of internal elections at the three unions in the banking sector and authors’ estimates of membership of the two unions in the insurance industry

Yes

Federation of unions of Metal Chemical, Electric, Pharmaceutical, Paper, Printing, Energy and Mining industries (Federação Intersindical das Indústrias Metalúrgicas, Químicas, Eléctricas, Farmacêutica, Celulose, Papel, Gráfica, Imprensa, Energia e Minas)

FIEQUIMETAL (CGTP-IN)

Due to a broad and complex process of mergers carried out by FIEQUIMETAL it is difficult to estimate the membership numbers of this federation, around between 60,000 and 70,000 and members

 

National Federation of Teachers (Federação Nacional dos Professores)

FENPROF (CGTP-IN)

60,000

Source: Data based on results of internal elections at the member unions

 

National Federation of Public Sector Trade Unions (Federação Nacional dos Sindicatos da Função Pública)

FNSFP (CGTP-IN)

Around 66,000 members.
Source: Estimate based on results of internal elections and accounts at the member unions

 

Federation of unions of Textile, Wool, Clothing, Footwear and Leather workers (Federação dos Sindicatos dos Trabalhadores Têxteis, Lanifícios, Vestuário, Calçado e Peles de Portugal)

FESETE (CGTP-IN)

25,000

Source: Data based on results of internal elections at the member unions

 


During the past 20 years, the most comprehensive and profound restructuring among Portuguese unions was carried out by FIEQUIMETAL. The process began in 1999 with the merger of CGTP’s metal and chemical and chemical workers’ federations and was continued in 2007 with the integration of the electrical workers’ federation. In 2010, eight of FIEQUIMETAL’s member unions merged into four newly created regional unions covering several branches of manufacturing. In the same year, the national Union of Paper and Printing Workers integrated itself into these four new organisations. FIEQUIMETAL now covers the following sectors: metal, chemical, electrical, pharmaceutical, paper and pulp, graphical, press, energy and mining.

Another important structuring process occurred in 2007 when UGT’s three banking and two insurance unions created the National Federation of the Finance Sector (FEBASE). During the same year, CGTP’s transport and communication unions founded FECTRANS. In contrast to FIEQUIMETAL, the creation of FEBASE and FECTRANS did not result in restructuring the member organisations.

Employers’ organisations

About employers’ representation

The Constitution guarantees the right to organise voluntarily and protects against any coercion to affiliate in an association, and the Labour Code specifies this right for employers’ organisations.

As regards the legal status of interest associations, there is an important distinction between the employers’ organisations that are recognised as social partners on the one hand and pure trade associations on the other.

The main employers’ organisations that are represented in the most important cross-sectoral, national institution for social dialogue, the Permanent Commission of Social Concertation (Comissão Permanente de Concertação Social, CPCS) are: the Entrepreneurial Confederation of Portugal (Confederação Empresarial de Portugal, CIP), the Confederation of Commerce and Services of Portugal (Confederação do Comércio e Serviços de Portugal, CCP), the Confederation of Farmers of Portugal (Confederação dos Agricultores de Portugal, CAP), and the Confederation of Portuguese Tourism (Confederação do Turismo Português, CTP).

The Entrepreneurial Confederation of Portugal was founded in 2010 as a result of the merger of the Confederation of Portuguese Industry (CIP) with the two large national entrepreneurial associations, AIP and AEP. With this merger, CIP consolidated its leading role in the employers’ camp.

There are no published membership data regarding employers’ organisations. However, the annual mandatory survey to all companies in the market sector (Relatório Único) includes a question to employers about their affiliation in employers’ associations and their number of employees, which allows to estimate the overall employers’ organisations density in terms of the percentage of companies that are affiliated (19% in 2014) and in terms of active employees (39% in 2014), as reported in the Green Paper on Labour Relations 2016.

Employers’ organisations ­– membership and density

 

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Source

Employers’ organisation density in terms of active employees

51.2%.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a

OECD/AIAS ICTWSS Database 2021

Employers’ organisation density in terms of active employees

39%.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

National Source: Relatório Único/ Green Paper on Labour Relations 2016

Employers’ organisation density in private sector establishments*

n.a.

n.a

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

24%

European Company Survey (ECS) 2013/2019

Employers’ organisation density in private sector establishments*

19%.

n.a

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

National Source: Relatório Único/ Green Paper on Labour Relations 2016

* Percentage of employees working in an establishment which is a member of any employer organisation that is involved in collective bargaining

Main employers’ organisations

There are two main employers’ confederations (CIP and CCP) covering more than one sector that have access to the body of tripartite social concertation at macro level (Standing Committee for Social Concertation, CPCS).

Main employers’ organisations and confederations

Long name

Abbreviation

Members

Year

Involved in collective bargaining

Entrepreneurial Confederation of Portugal (Confederação Empresarial de Portugal)

CIP

Approximately 820,000 (without members of Chambers of Industry and Commerce)

Source: Authors’ calculations based on data provided by CIP

2013

No, only via its members

Confederation of Trade and Services of Portugal (Confederação do Comércio e Serviços de Portugal)

CCP

No data

-

No, only via its members

Tripartite and bipartite bodies and concertation

The tripartite body for social concertation at macro level is the Standing Committee for Social Concertation (Comissão Permanente de Concertação Social – CPCS). It was created in 1984 and produced several agreements on income policies, setting reference values for the wage increases in collective bargaining. In 1990 and 1996, broad pacts covering a wide range of areas were signed. These agreements were only signed by one trade union confederation, UGT; CGTP-IN did not sign any of them.

In 1991, the first specific agreements were signed at the CPCS: one on health and safety at the workplace and the other on vocational education and training. After the last broad agreement signed in 1996 (which was also the last agreement with guidelines for wage bargaining), this new type of specific agreement became the dominant means of social concertation until 2008. CGTP-IN signed several agreements of this type. The areas covered by these specific agreements were health and safety (1991, 2000, 2006), occupational training (1991, 2000, 2007), public pension schemes (2001, 2006), and the minimum wage mid-term agreement (2006). The tripartite agreements of 2008 and 2012 encompassed again a large number of issues including the revision of labour legislation, both against the opposition of CGTP. Analysis of social dialogue under the shadow of Troika and of tripartite agreement 2012 suggest that mostly the government combined unilateral decision with subordinating social dialogue to MoU demands and that no significant trade-off was really achieved (Campos Lima and Abrantes, 2016; Almeida et al, 2016).

Since the last quarter of 2014, tripartite concertation regained importance with the signature of a tripartite agreement on the minimum wage increase. In the new political cycle, initiated in end of 2015, with the government of the Socialist Party supported by the left parties, three tripartite agreements were signed 2016, 2017 and 2018 covering various issues. While the tripartite agreement 2016 focused only on the implementation of the minimum wage update, the tripartite agreements in 2017 and 2018 covered a broader range of issues with implications in labour reforms. Following the Tripartite Commitment for a Mid-term Concertation Agreement signed in 2017, the government revised the criteria for the extension of collective agreements (see extension mechanisms) and a bipartite agreement between employer confederations and trade union confederations suspended temporarily for 18 months any unilateral initiatives demanding the expire of agreements (see expiry of collective agreements).

In June 2018, the Tripartite Agreement on Combating Precarious Work and Labour Market Segmentation and Promoting Greater Dynamism in Collective Bargaining introduced proposals to reinforce arbitration before the expiry of agreements and to protect workers acquired rights in some domains, when collective agreements expire (see expiry of collective agreements); and to extend the range of issues to which applies the favor laboratoris principle. At the same time the tripartite agreement introduced new challenges regarding collective agreements and workplace decision making on working time flexibility. The tripartite agreements of 2017 and 2018 were not signed by CGTP. Among the reasons not to sign, is GCTP demand for an in-depth revision of the legal framework of collective bargaining in order to fully re-establish the principle of favor laboratoris and to allow collective agreements to expire only following a joint decision of the signatory parties.

Main tripartite and bipartite bodies

Name

Type

Level

Issues covered

Standing Committee for Social Concertation (Comissão Permanente de Concertação Social, CPCS)

Tripartite

National

All issues related to work relations, employment, economic and social affairs; agreements may refer to political strategies and/or to specific measures

Workplace-level employee representation

The rights of works councils (comissões de trabalhadores) and trade union organisation at the company level are guaranteed by the Constitution and regulated by the Labour Code.

The competences of works councils are largely limited to information and consultation. The legal possibility of unions to delegate their ability to sign collective agreements to works councils created in 2009 and extended in 2012 did not have any effect in practice.

Unions have the exclusive right to sign legally binding collective agreements and to call for strikes. Union structures at company level (delegates or committees) are involved in collective bargaining if the trade union board wants to be. It is the board who makes the decisions in relation to the negotiations.

Data from the ECS confirm the findings of a survey in the 1990s: the trade union delegates are the most numerous bodies (in terms of establishments and employees covered).

Regulation, composition and competences of the bodies

 

Regulation

Composition

Competences of the body

Involved in company level collective bargaining?

Thresholds/rules when they need to be/can be set up

Workers’ Commission (Comissão de Trabalhadores, CT)

Constitution of the Portuguese Republic and Labour Code

Workers elected by all employees of the company

Since 2009, and extended in 2012, workers representatives including CTs can be involved in collective bargaining if they have a mandate from the trade unions. The main competences of CTs are information and consultation.

CTs can be created in all companies. There is no threshold.

Trade union delegate (Delegado Sindical)

Constitution of the Portuguese Republic and Labour Code

Delegate elected by the members of the respective union employed in the company

Involved via their trade union. The signing party of collective agreements is always the union.

Union delegates may be elected in all companies. There is no threshold.

Union Committee (Comissão Sindical, CS) or Inter-union Committee (Comissão Intersindical, CIS)

Constitution of the Portuguese Republic and Labour Code

Constituted by Union Delegates of one (CS) or several (CIS) unions

Involved via their trade union(s). The signing party of collective agreements is always the union.

Union Committees and Inter-Union committees may be elected in all companies. There is no threshold.

Workers' representatives for safety and health at work (Representantes dos trabalhadores para a Segurança e Saúde no Trabalho)

Legal regime for the promotion of safety and health at work Law no. 102/2009 (Article 21)

Elected by workers by direct and secret vote, on the basis of lists submitted by trade unions when they have workers; or lists subscribed by at least by 20% of the workers.

Not involved

No threshold

Collective bargaining

Collective bargaining

The central concern of employment relations is the collective governance of work and employment. This section looks into collective bargaining in Portugal.

Bargaining system

Collective agreements are published in the Ministry of Labour’s official bulletin and are legally binding. There are no collective agreements on wages in public administration. The economic and social crisis in 2011–2013 combined with the introduction of stricter criteria to extend the agreements (2012 and 2014) that was implemented under the Memorandum of Understanding resulted in a collapse of collective bargaining at all levels – but with more impact in sector multi-employer bargaining – while the intended decentralisation did not take place. Although the number of company agreements as a percentage of total agreements increased, this was more the result of the fall in sector-level agreements than of an increase of company bargaining. In 2016, the 58 company agreements signed represented 39.6% of all collective agreements signed, in 2017 the share was 46.2%, in 2018 the share was 44.5% and in 2019 the share was 43.8%. But in these four years they only represented 3.5% to 5.0% of collective bargaining coverage (DGERT/MTSSS, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020).

Wage bargaining coverage

Overall, the coverage collective agreements in force have been slightly declining over the years. Considering the most recent edition (2018), the government survey Quadros de Pessoal registered an 86.2% total coverage of all legally existing agreements in the market sector for 2018 compared with 91.4% in 2011. This ‘accumulated coverage rate’ includes a number of agreements that have not been reviewed for many years (DERT/DGERT, 2013, 2017; 2018, 2020)

Following the implementation of legal changes in the collective bargaining legal framework required by the Troika, there has been a dramatic decline of the level of renewals of collective agreements, with their coverage dropping in 2011 from around 1.242 million workers, i.e. around 53% of total employees covered by agreements in the market sector, to unprecedented historic levels of 19% in 2012 and around 11% in 2013 and 2014. Since 2015, a slow process of recovery started with the increase of the share of workers covered by collective agreements that were reviewed or newly published: 568 thousand (25%) in 2015, 749 thousand (32%) in 2016, 820 thousand (34%) in 2017; 900 thousand (40%) in 2018; and 883 thousand in 2019. Nevertheless, this coverage did not reach the levels observed on the eve of international crisis, when the number of employees covered by renewals of collective agreements was 1, 895 million and they represented 65% of all workers covered by agreements (Campos Lima, 2017, 2019; DERT/DGERT, 2013, 2017; 2018, 2020).

Collective wage bargaining coverage of employees from different sources

Level

% (year )

source

All levels

73.6 (2018)

OECD/AIAS ICTWSS Database 2021

All levels

69 (2019)

ECS (2013)

All levels

56 (2019)

ECS (2019)

All levels

79 (2010)

SES (2010)

All levels

87 (2014)

SES (2014)

All levels

89 (2018)

SES (2018)

All levels

91.4% (2011)

Quadros de Pessoal 2011, DGERT/Relatório sobre Regulamentação Coletiva de Trabalho 2017; Green Paper on Labour Relations 2016.

All levels

89.1% (2013)

Quadros de Pessoal 2013 DGERT/Relatório sobre Regulamentação Coletiva de Trabalho 2014; Green Paper on Labour Relations 2016.

All levels

87.5% (2016)

Quadros de Pessoal 2016 DGERT/Relatório sobre Regulamentação Coletiva de Trabalho 2017.

All levels

86.5% (2017)

Quadros de Pessoal 2017 DGERT/Relatório sobre Regulamentação Coletiva de Trabalho 2018

All levels

86.2% (2018)

Quadros de Pessoal 2018 DGERT/Relatório sobre Regulamentação Coletiva de Trabalho 2019

Sources: Eurofound, European Company Survey 2013 (ECS), private sector companies with establishments >10 employees (NACE B–S) – multiple answers possible; Eurostat, Structure of Earnings Survey (SES), companies >10 employees (NACE B-SxO), single answer for each local unit: more than 50% of employees covered by such an agreement – online dataset codes: [EARN_SES10_01], [EARN_SES14_01], [EARN_SES18_01] (Percentage of employees working in local units where more than 50% of the employees are covered under a collective pay agreement against the total number of employees in the scope of the survey)For more information on the methodology: Quadros de Pessoal/DGERT/Relatórios sobre a Regulamentação Coletiva de Trabalho (2010-2020); OECD/AIAS ICTWSS Database 2021.

Collective bargaining coverage - national data

 

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Source

Potential bargaining coverage of agreements revised in the respective year (in the private sector)

11.3

25.3

32.4

34.3

40.1

DGERT/Relatório sobre Regulamentação Coletiva de Trabalho 2019.

Green Paper on Labour Relations 2016.

Quadros de Pessoal (2011 to 2018)

Bargaining coverage of all legally existing agreements (in the private sector)

88.9

88.5

87.5

86.5

86.2

DGERT/Relatório sobre Regulamentação Coletiva de Trabalho 2019.

Green Paper on Labour Relations 2016.

Quadros de Pessoal (2011 to 2018)

Bargaining levels

Since the creation of the Portuguese collective bargaining system in the 1970s–1980s, the most important level by far has always been the sector or branch. The agreements at this level referred to more than 90% of the total workforce potentially covered by all levels of collective bargaining. There are no collective agreements at cross-sector level. Bargaining at company level is important in some sectors (such as in public utilities). In practice, there is no decentralisation in collective bargaining in Portugal.

Levels of collective bargaining, 2019

 

National level (intersectoral)

Sectoral level

Company level

 

Wages

Working time

Wages

Working time

Wages

Working time

Principal or dominant level

   

X

X

   

Important but not dominant level

           

Existing level

       

X

X

Articulation

Up to 2009, company agreements could only be signed by trade unions. Since 2009, company bargaining can be also conducted by non-union bodies in companies above 500 employees; and since 2012 in companies above 150 employees – but still under the delegation of trade unions (Article 491 No. 3 of the Labour Code, with the changes introduced by Law No. 23/2012). However, agreements of this particular type have not been signed since the creation of that possibility, as documented in the Green Paper on Labour Relations 2016 (GEP/MTSSS, 2017). Moreover, there is no significant articulation between bargaining levels, insofar as company agreements are not subordinated to the framework of sector agreements. For instance, it is possible that the trade union that signs a given company agreement is not the same trade union that signed the sector agreement in force. Competition between unions (affiliated to CGTP, UGT or independent) and expiry of sector collective agreements contribute to that possibility. On the other hand, Law No. 23/2012 made it possible for collective agreements to include clauses of articulation between levels, but very few agreements signed since then have included such a type of clause (CRL/MTSSS, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020).

Timing of the bargaining rounds

The period between the signature of an agreement and its publication in the Official Bulletin of the Ministry of Labour (BTE) may vary between a few weeks to a few months.

There are large variations in the duration of bargaining rounds between sectors and years. This is a second difficulty in determining the part of the year when bargaining rounds usually take place.

The present crisis in bargaining and the resulting low numbers of agreements do not allow significant patterns of timing to be identified, as it was possible to do before the crisis.

In general, bargaining rounds take place on a yearly basis, in connection with wage bargaining.

Coordination

Trade union confederations follow up on sector bargaining and provide some guidance but it is at the sector or federation level that coordination with lower-level units takes place. High-level employers implicitly coordinate changes among their lower-level affiliates. During the first decade of tripartite concertation at macro level (1987–1997), wage bargaining coordination took the form of tripartite macro agreements on income policies (Campos Lima and Naumann, 2011). Non-binding tripartite agreements on the increase of the national minimum wage may have an influence on collective bargaining outcomes because they put pressure on the lower wages of the existing wage tables. This occurred during 2008–2010, and more recently since 2015, because the national minimum wage after the increases exceeded the level of the lowest wage groups of many collective agreements. Recent studies highlighted this link between minimum wage policies and collective bargaining developments (Martins, 2019; GEP/MTSSS, 2019; Campos Lima et al, 2021).

Extension mechanisms

Collective agreements can be extended by a decree issued by the Ministry of Labour. Until the crisis, this was a pervasive practice in many sectors. The 2011 MoU required that the extension of collective agreements should be based on representativeness, both of trade unions and employer associations. The legal changes in 2012 and in 2014 referred only to employer representativeness/representation. In the 2012 version, they had to represent 50% of employment in the sector, in many sectors an impossible target. In the 2014 version, their membership had to include 30% of micro, small and medium enterprises, to be allowed to extend the collective agreements.

These rules were withdrawn in 2017 for a number of reasons: the negative impact on collective bargaining, by reducing the number of extensions and the number of updated collective agreements and their coverage; the weakness of employers’ associations as highlighted in the Green Paper on Labour Relations 2016, with only 19% of the companies in Portugal in 2014 claiming to be affiliated to employer associations; and the fact that both employer confederations and trade union confederations were opposed or reticent to the criteria of extension based on representativeness/representation. In May 2017, Resolution 82/2017 replaced the criteria of representativeness/representation of employer associations by new criteria for the extension of collective agreements: the effect on the wage bill and economic impacts; the level of the wage increase; the impact on the wage scale and on the reduction of inequality; the percentage of workers to be covered (in total and by gender); and the proportion of women that will benefit.

Derogation mechanisms

Law 23/2012, established the possibility of ‘open clauses’ by allowing collective agreements to specify that rules on geographical mobility, working time and wages can be set by agreements on another level (as required by the Troika MoU). However no cases were reported of agreements including this type of clauses (CRL/MTSSS, 2016; GEP/MTSSS, 2017).

Derogations in a strict sense were not possible until recently, but this changed in August 2014. The seventh revision of the Labour Code introduced the possibility to temporarily suspend collective agreements in the case of a severe crisis that ‘gravely effects the normal activity of the company’. The suspension is only possible if the respective employers’ organisation(s) and trade union(s) sign a written agreement for that purpose.

Expiry of collective agreements

The 2003 Labour Code introduced mechanisms to speed up the termination of collective agreements and reduce their period of validity after expiring and the 2009 Labour Code facilitated unilateral ‘caducity’ of collective agreements and reduced their survival period. In line with Troika MoU requirements, legislation in 2014 further reduced the period of validity and survival period. Expiration becomes effective if one of the signing parties officially ‘denounces’ the agreement, thus triggering the process of caducity. This process takes at least 14 months (starting on the date of denunciation) for the agreement to be effectively cancelled. The employees who were covered by the agreement before its caducity individually keep a set of rights stipulated in the agreement, such as their remuneration, their category/function, working time and social protection. The employer associations and companies have been the protagonists of the unilateral requirements for the caducity of agreements. The legal measures had undermined union power and the quality and balance collective bargaining in a number of sectors.

The Tripartite Commitment for a Mid-term Concertation Agreement signed in January 2017 comprised a bipartite agreement between employer confederations and trade union confederations to suspend any requests of caducity during 18 months. While this initiative might have helped the recovery of collective bargaining, it did not respond to the problem insofar as the measure was temporary. Trade union confederation CGTP has been calling for revision of the legal framework in order to re-establish the principle that a collective agreement only expires when both signatory parties agree to do so, a principle that has been entrenched in the collective bargaining system until 2003.

The Law 93/2019 amending the Labour Code, following the 2018 Tripartite agreement, did not reversed the possibility of unilateral caducity of collective agreements. However, it introduced various mitigation measures such as: the obligation that the written request for the expiry of a collective agreement must state the economic and structural reasons or maladjustment of the collective agreement (article 500); strengthen the role of the Economic and Social Council in relation to arbitration and mediation to prevent the expire of agreements (article 501-A); and extended the range of rights of rights that workers keep when collective agreements expire including also occupational safety and health and parental rights (article 501, paragraph 8). On the other hand, this law added the possibility of expiry of collective agreements in the case of the extinction a signatory organization, trade union or employer association (article 502 paragraph 1b), a measure which generated controversy and is under examination by the Constitutional Court.

Peace clauses

According to the Labour Code (Article 542) collective agreements can include rules on peace clauses determining industrial peace during the validity of a collective agreements, but peace clauses in collective agreements are extremely rare.

Other aspects of working life addressed in collective agreements

Collective agreements encompass a large number of issues but in the few last years collective bargaining prioritised wage bargaining and working time flexibility. Regulations on working time accounts and other forms of working time flexibility have been addressed in a number of collective agreements. (CRL/MTSSS, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). Recent reports highlighted as well provisions concerning the challenges of digital economy (Ramalho, 2019).

Industrial action and disputes

Industrial action and disputes

Legal aspects

In Portugal, strikes are the most widely used form of industrial action by far. The right to strike is guaranteed by the Constitution since 1976, which establishes that the workers themselves competence to define the scope of the interests to be defended by means of strike action, and that this scope may not be restricted by the law. In parallel with establishing the right to strike, it prohibits the use of the lock-out. Other forms of industrial dispute, such as sit-ins and other disruptive actions, were relevant during the revolutionary period (1974–1975) and its aftermath, but they do not occur any longer. An exception may be when workers at a factory that is closing try to stop the withdrawal of equipment and material from the establishment in order to avoid their sale before the company has paid its debt to the dismissed workforce.

Incidence of different forms of industrial action between 2010 and 2019

Work-to-rule or refusal to do overtime

13%

Work stoppage or strike for less than a day

12%

Strike of a day or more

31%

Blockade or occupation

3%

Source: European Company Survey 2019

Note: Percentage of private sector establishments reporting any form of industrial action during the indicated period.

 

Industrial action developments, 2015­–2018

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

Working days lost per 1,000 employees

8.0

4.7

11.1

18.5

Number of strikes

75

76

106

144

Top four reasons

Wages (17.9%)

Working conditions (15.0%)

Statute of company (8.1%)

Employment and training (6.3%)

Wages (50.4%)

Working Conditions (12.0%)

Collective regulation procedures (7.2%)

Employment and training (2.0%)

Employment and training (18.3%)

Working conditions (13.8%)

Statute of company (8.8%)

Wages (8.0%)

Wages (28.7%)

Collective regulation procedures (22.6%)

Working conditions (13.8%)

Employment and training (4.5%)

Source: GEE, 2014a, 2014b; GEP, 2016, 2017.

Dispute resolution mechanisms

Collective dispute resolution mechanisms

The Labour Code regulates the following collective dispute resolution mechanisms:

  • Conciliation and mediation (Labour Code, Articles 523­–528): Conciliation may be initiated at the request of one or both parties of the conflict. The process is normally carried out at the responsible service of the Ministry of Labour. The parties are obliged to attend the conciliation meetings, but the success of the process depends entirely on their will. If the conciliation fails, it may be transformed into mediation. Mediation may be initiated at the request of one or both parties of the conflict. The mediator is appointed by the Ministry of Labour. He or she presents a compromise for the resolution of the conflict. The parties are obliged to attend the mediation meetings, but the success of the process depends entirely on their will.
  • Voluntary arbitration (Labour Code, Articles 506–507): The parties involved in the negotiation of a collective agreement may initiate a process of voluntary arbitration at any time during the conflict. The arbitrating body is comprised of one representative from each side of the conflict (employers and trade unions) and a third member who is chosen by the two representatives. The involved parties are obliged to inform the Ministry of Labour about the beginning and the conclusion of the process.
  • Mandatory arbitration (Labour Code, Articles 508–509): Mandatory arbitration may take place if all previous steps of negotiation and conciliation in relation to a collective agreement (conciliation, mediation and voluntary arbitration) have failed and if the majority of social partners represented at the CPCS recommend it. In case of risks to life, health or security of citizens, the Ministry of Labour may unilaterally initiate the mandatory arbitration (after consultation with the CPCS). In the case of the negotiation of a completely new agreement, one of the parties may request mandatory arbitration if the other one has brought all previous steps of negotiation and conciliation to failure. The Ministry of Labour decides on the execution of a mandatory arbitration, taking into consideration (a) the number of workers affected by the conflict, (b) the relevance of social protection of the covered workers, (c) the social and economic impact of the conflict, and (d) the position of the involved parties regarding the object of the arbitration. After consultation of the involved parties and the regulating or supervising body of the respective sector, the Ministry of Labour unilaterally determines the decision regarding the arbitration.
  • Necessary arbitration (Labour Code, Articles 510–511): If a collective agreement expires and is not substituted by another agreement during the 12 months (covering at least 50% of the respective workforce), the Ministry of Labour may initiate the process of a necessary arbitration (which is regulated by a specific decree-law). This type of arbitration is designed to be triggered in the course of the expiration of a collective agreement. In the case of a strike in a sector or institution that provides indispensable services for the population, the respective trade union is obliged to present in its prior notice of the strike submitted at the Ministry of Labour a proposal for ‘minimum services’. If the involved parties do not come to a common solution, an arbitration takes place at the Economic and Social Council (Conselho Económico e Social, CES) (Labour Code, Articles 534, 537–538).

Individual dispute resolution mechanisms

The Labour Code (Article 492-2 f) stipulates that collective agreements shall regulate conflicts regarding employment contracts, ‘namely by conciliation, mediation and arbitration’. It seems that the most important collective agreements revised since 2009 (textile, clothing, shoe, metal, construction, commerce) do not make use of this legal possibility to regulate the resolution of individual conflicts.

In the case of disciplinary measures against an individual worker and in case of dismissal, the respective works council and trade union organisations must be informed (Labour Code, Articles 353, 356–357). In the case of the dismissal of a worker resulting from the extinction of the workplace or because of ‘inadaptation’ of the worker to the demands of his or her job, the respective works council and trade union organisations must be informed and consulted (Labour Code, Articles 370, 375, 377–378).

The Labour Code (Article 387) states that the legality and admissibility of a dismissal can only be judged by a legal court.

The most common forms of collective dispute resolution in Portugal in relation to collective bargaining are conciliation and mediation. Arbitration is extremely rare. The Annual Report on Collective Bargaining 2015, 2017 and 2019 (CRL/MTSSS, 2016; 2018; 2019) examined the trends observed in the period 2005–2018, concluding that the most common and most successful form of dispute resolution has been conciliation. Mediation has been less frequent and with more limited results. Between 2005 and 2018, only one decision based on voluntary arbitration was published and three processes of compulsory arbitration were concluded. The last two years there was nothing to add. As to the necessary arbitration, there was not a single case concluded in the last decade, although in 2018 there was one request.

Use of dispute resolution mechanisms

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

Conciliation*

63

38

58

51

Mediation*

11

10

12

17

Voluntary arbitration

0

0

0

0

Compulsory arbitration

0

0

0

1

Necessary arbitration

0

0

0

0

Source: CRL, MTSSS, 2016; 2018; and DGERT/BTE online. * Number of yearly requests.

Individual employment relations

Individual employment relations

Individual employment relations are the relationships between the individual worker and their employer. This relationship is shaped by legal regulation and by the outcomes of social partner negotiations over the terms and conditions governing the employment relationship. This section looks into the start and termination of the employment relationship and entitlements and obligations in Portugal.

Start and termination of the employment relationship

Requirements regarding an employment contract

According to the Portuguese Labour Code (Law 7/2009 of 12 February, Article 68-2), the minimum working age is 16 years. A person aged less than 16 who has completed compulsory education may be hired for soft jobs with adequate tasks (Article 68-3), or in a family company a person aged less than 16 may work under the direct supervision of an adult family member (Article 68-4). In any case, the employer must inform the inspecting authority about the hiring of a person aged less than 16 within eight days (Article 68-5).

The Portuguese Labour Code requires that employment contracts in a written form should include information regarding (Article 141):

  • identification of the employer and the employee; 
  • workplace;
  • daily and weekly working hours;
  • date of the contract and the date of its entry into force;
  • functions to be performed by the employee;
  • amount of the basic wage and other remuneration;
  • definition of the notice period in case of termination of the contract.

The exception are the ‘contracts of very short duration’ which do not have a written form, but are communicated by the employer to the social security service using an electronic form including the above mentioned information (Article 142). In general, there is no timeframe for signing the contract. The Labour Code protects workers who do not have clear contractual situations. A worker who does not have a written and signed contract may be considered as a permanent worker.

Dismissal and termination procedures

According to the Portuguese Labour Code (Law 7/2009 of 12 February), in its article 340, an employment contract may be terminated due to: expiration, revocation, denunciation and termination. Among the dismissal modalities, the following are to highlight:

  • dismissal with fault attributable to the employee;
  • collective dismissal;
  • dismissal due to the extinction of the job position ;
  • dismissal due to unsuitability;

Dismissal of the employee without just cause or for political or ideological reasons is forbidden.

The employer must inform the employee of the notice period for termination of the employment contract.

Entitlements and obligations

Parental, maternity and paternity leave

In Portuguese maternity and paternity leave are regulated under the regime of ‘initial parental leave’ which includes provisions for both parents and exclusively for the mother and for the father (Decree Law 91/2009, Articles 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15).

Statutory leave arrangements

Regime of initial parental leave (subsidio parental inicial)

Overall maximum duration

150 days (Article 12 paragraph 1)

150 + 30 days = 180 in case of shared leave (Article 12 paragraph 1)

150 + 30 + 90 days = in the case of extended leave (Article 16)

Reimbursement

From 80% to 100% of the average daily wage remuneration declared to social security in the previous six months – does not apply to the extended leave.

To be eligible for the initial parental allowance, the mother and / or the father must have 6 months affiliation in a social security system with registered remuneration.

Who pays?

The public social security system is responsible for the payment.

Legal basis

Decree Law 91/2009 of 9 April, Articles 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 (amended by Decree-Law 70/2010 of 16 June, Decree-Law 133/2012 of 27 June, Law 120/2015 of 1 September and Decree-Law 53/2018 of 2 July.

Initial parental leave – detailed provisions

Maximum duration

Initial parental leave is 120 or 150 consecutive days of leave. It is obligatory for the mother to take 42 days (six weeks) following the birth; the remaining period may be shared between the father and the mother by mutual agreement.

The duration of the leave is extended by 30 days in the case of shared leave; each parent takes a leave of 30 consecutive days or two periods of 15 consecutive days. Mothers have the option to take up to 30 days of initial parental leave before birth.

It is obligatory for the father to take 20 working days’ exclusive parental leave, of which five days must be taken consecutively immediately after birth and 15 days during the subsequent 42 days (six weeks).

Initial parental benefit is extended by 30 days per child in the case of multiple births, besides the first one.

In the case of multiple births, an extra two days for each child (besides the first one) are added to the 20 compulsory days of parental leave exclusive of the father.

The extended parental leave (Article 16) may be granted to one or to both parents (alternately), up to a maximum period of three months (for each parent) provided that it takes places immediately after the Initial Parental Benefit or after the Extended Parental Benefit from the other parent.

Reimbursement

The parental leave benefit varies according to the option of the parental leave:

- 120 and 150 days’ initial parental leave corresponds to a daily allowance of 100% and 80% of the average daily wage, respectively.

- The 20 working days’ exclusive parental leave of father corresponds to a daily allowance of 100%, of the average daily wage.

- In the case of shared leave between the father and the mother of 150 or 180 days, the benefit corresponds to a daily allowance of 100% or 83% of the average daily wage, respectively.

When the level of earnings is very low, the law provides a minimum amount of €11.70 per day, equal to 80% of the 1/30 Index of Social Support (€438.81in 2020).

For the extended parental leave of three months the benefit corresponds to a daily allowance of 25% of the average daily wage.

When the level of earnings is very low, the law provides a minimum amount of €5.85 per day, equal to 40% of the 1/30 Index of Social Support (€438.81 in 2020).

Sick leave

In Portugal, the right to paid sick leave is granted by law (Decree-Law 28/2004 of 4 February, with the changes introduced by Decree-Law 146/2005 of 26 August, Decree-Law 302/2009 of 22 October, Law 28/2011 of 16 June, Decree-Law 133/2012 of 27 June and Decree-Law 53/2018 of 2 July) to employees working under a labour contract (the worker should have made contributions to the social security system for at least six months, consecutive or not) and, optionally, to independent workers too. Additionally, beneficiaries must have registered earnings for at least 12 days of work in the four months immediately before the month preceding the onset of incapacity. However, this condition does not apply to self-employed workers or to seafarers covered by the voluntary social security scheme (these workers must have paid their social security contributions up to the end of the third month preceding the onset of incapacity).

The benefit is payable from the fourth day of incapacity for work onwards (there is an unpaid three-day waiting period) in the case of employees; from the 11th day of incapacity for work onwards (unpaid 10-day waiting period) in the case of self-employed workers; and 31st for the beneficiaries covered by the voluntary social security scheme.

No waiting period is applicable in case of: i) tuberculosis, ii) hospitalisation or outpatient surgery treatment in a duly authorised establishment, iii) sickness initiated during the entitlement period to the parental benefit and extending beyond this period.

This payment is granted by the state through social security. The amount of this allowance is calculated as a percentage of the worker’s salary (this salary is determined by taking into account the average salary of the previous six months before the sickness, Christmas and Holiday allowances excluded), but this percentage varies according to the duration of the leave and to the nature of the sickness.

The amount of the average daily pay covered by sickness allowance varies according to the duration of the incapacity to work: 55% for up to 30 days; 60% for 31–90 days; 70% for 91–365 days; and 75% if it is more than 365 days.

The minimum rate of benefits payable is set at 30% of the daily amount of Index of Social Support (€438.81 in 2020). Where the person's reference income is lower than the Index of Social Support, the sickness benefit will be equal to the reference income. The benefits cannot exceed the reference income. The employment relationship may be terminated while the employee is on sick leave (Law 7/2009 of 12 February (Labour Code)).

Retirement age

Ordinance 50/2019 of 8 February established that the normal age of entitlement to old age pension in 2020 is 66 years and five months.

Early retirement can be claimed if the insured person has both a minimum age of 60 and 40 years of contributory career, without the application of the sustainability factor. Early retirement is penalised according to the established by Decree-Law 187/2007 of 10 May, amended by Decree-law 119/2018 of 27 December: 0.5% per month of anticipation reduced by 12 months for every period of three years for those with more than 30 years of insurance record.

Decree-Law 119/2018 of 27 December proceeds to the eighth amendment of the Decree-Law 187/2007 and establishes the new flexibilisation scheme regarding the age of access to the early retirement: i) the beneficiaries who are at least 60 years old and, at this age, have at least 40 years of contributions may request early retirement; ii) it is not possible to access the pension before having reached 60 years old; iii) the personal age of access to the old-age pension is established, resulting from the reduction in four months for each civil year above 40 years of contributory career; in any case, this reduction cannot lead to access to old-age pension below 60 years of age; iv) the sustainability factor is eliminated from the calculation of the pensions of the flexibilisation scheme of the old-age pension’s age. In such cases, the beneficiaries are not double penalised.

There is a special pathway to retirement for long-term unemployed older workers. If unemployment occurs after the completion of 57 years, retirement is allowed, without penalties, at the age of 62. If unemployment occurs between the ages of 52 and 56, retirement is allowed, with penalties, at the age of 57. In this latter case, the qualifying period is increased from 15 to 22 years of insurance.

There are special retirement conditions for people with arduous jobs, such as miners, seafarers in fisheries, maritime workers of merchant navy, coastal navigation and coastal fishery, air traffic controllers, professional classical and contemporary dancers and embroiderers from Madeira Island. These professionals may request early retirement within the specific conditions set up for each activity as regards age and contributory records, but they always have to comply with the 15-year (successive or not) record of contributions for Social Security or for any other social protection scheme which entitles them to a retirement pension.

Pay

Pay

Pay: For workers, the reward for work and main source of income; for employers, a cost of production and focus of bargaining and legislation. This section looks into minimum wage setting in Portugal and guides the reader to further material on collective wage bargaining.

According to the most recent ILO report on Portugal (ILO, 2018), real average wages (using data from GEP’s Quadros de Pessoal and CPI) had increased 12% between 2002 and 2012, before sliding back as Portugal entered into recession. The years of troika intervention (2011-2014) with the dramatic blockade of collective bargaining and extensions and minimum wage freezing contributed to this sliding back. Pay developments in recent years were influenced by the new political cycle and the measures that helped recovery in particular the trajectory of minimum wage increase and a certain recovery of collective bargaining. As highlighted by ILO, the recovery in the private sector started in 2015. On the other hand, a study examining the evolution of the average wages for the whole economy, using information provided by National Statistics on the basis of administrative data (from Social Security and Caixa Geral de Aposentações) showed that the inversion of the trend of declining wages (regular gross remuneration excluding Christmas and holiday bonus ) occurred at the end of 2017, increasing until September 2019, when the annual rates of change registered 2.8% in nominal terms and 3% in real terms (Caldas, 2019).

Monthly average basic nominal wages per worker (in euros)

 

 

2012

2017

2018

NACE

 

Men

Women

Men

Women

Men

Women

Total

 

999.85

814.54

1012.25

861.17

1039.08

888.56

A

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

756.92

603.34

766.02

673.16

800.74

707.02

B

Mining and quarrying

898.89

1.000.87

971.57

1,110.74

1,021.72

1,163.49

C

Manufacturing

938.57

687.03

983.28

766.59

1013.95

801.02

D

Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply

2,361.58

2,263.47

2,076.98

2,037.44

2,075.99

2,099.58

E

Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities

847.67

984.60

853.60

1023.33

882.40

1048.13

F

Construction

796.48

895.08

799.29

890.84

815.37

908.45

G

Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles

940.93

778.48

960.01

831.57

984.75

855.33

H

Transportation and storage

957.49

1 157.54

963.03

1178.82

998.16

1190.12

I

Accommodation and food service activities

745.63

612.35

776.68

666.62

799.96

693.62

J

Information and communication

1,599.66

1,373.84

1,600.27

1,368.07

1,644.94

1,395.75

K

Financial and insurance activities

1,758.36

1,382.87

1,780.12

1,406.90

1,794.30

1,412.99

L

Real estate activities

1,130.47

844.20

1,103.19

880.55

1,120.14

908.26

M

Professional, scientific and technical activities

1,412.08

1,027.67

1,406.22

1,067.34

1,426.33

1,097.34

N

Administrative and support service activities

812.54

725.85

804.35

764.59

821.76

787.39

O

Public administration and defence; compulsory social security

869.49

951.86

827.37

942.32

851.43

983.07

P

Education

1,287.80

1,073.08

1,324.12

1,075.15

1,368.96

1,098.06

Q

Human health and social work activities

1,075.19

772.97

1,126.57

829.91

1,149.03

850.17

R

Arts, entertainment and recreation

2,038.92

843.82

2,109.27

911.02

2,077.22

933.92

S

Other service activities

1,043.62

769.63

1,044.41

808.41

1,063.26

835.75

U

Activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies

1,765.38

2,091.41

2,138.34

1,889.21

2,283.46

2,042.38

Source: Quadros de Pessoal 2012 2017 and 2018 (Remunerações base médias, por actividade económica, segundo o nível de qualificação).

Minimum wages

The statutory minimum wage was created during the democratic revolution of 1974. It is set by the government after consultation with the social partners. There are no fixed rules or permanent expert committees. Until 2011, the increases usually took place at the start of every year.

In 2006, a tripartite agreement was signed at the CPCS (by the government and all union and employers’ confederations), stipulating that the minimum wage would be increased until 2011 at a pace that was foreseeably faster than the increase of collectively agreed wages. The aim was to reach €500 per month in 2011, but the escalation of the crisis and Troika MoU requirements stopped the process at €485 (2011). The government imposed a freeze of the minimum wage during three years. No other agreements were made until 2014, when a tripartite agreement was signed at the CPCS to increase the minimum wage for 2015 to €505. In the new political cycle, two tripartite agreements were signed regarding the conditions of implementation of the minimum wage update to €530 for 2016 and to €557 for 2017. It is relevant to note that a trajectory of the minimum wage increase to reach €600 in 2019 was part of the parliamentary deals with the left parties and one of the conditions they put forward to support the government of the Socialist Party. The minimum wage increase for 2019 to €600 had into consideration this planed trajectory (Martins, 2019; GEP/MTSSS, 2019).

For more information regarding the level and development of minimum wages, please see:

Collectively agreed pay outcomes

For more detailed information on the most recent outcomes in terms of collectively agreed pay, please see:

Working time

Working time

Working time: ‘Any period during which the worker is working, at the employer’s disposal and carrying out his activities or duties, in accordance with national laws and/or practice’ (Directive 2003/88/EC). This section briefly summarises regulation and issues regarding working time, overtime, part-time work as well as working time flexibility in Portugal.

Working time regulation

Working time is regulated by the Labour Code, by collective bargaining and by employers at company level.

The Labour Code sets the general framework by defining basic notions, by setting certain limits, such as for regular weekly working time and possible deviations from it, which may result from regulations regarding flexibility (working time accounts), and by regulating different types of flexible working time arrangements.

Collective agreements at branch, professional or company level may regulate the working time in the respective areas within the stipulations of the Labour Code. There is no articulation between the different levels of collective bargaining.

Employers regulate working time in their companies within the stipulations of the Labour Code and of the respective collective agreement (if there is one). In 2009, the Labour Code introduced working time accounts ( banco de horas) making their implementation in the companies dependent on their regulation by collective agreement. However, since 2012, the Labour Code introduced the possibility of ‘individual working time accounts’ which allowed the increase of normal working period up to two hours per day and 50 hours per week, with a limit of 150 hours per year, with basis on individual negotiations between employer and employee, without the mediation of unions or employee representatives, which could bypass the provisions of sector collective agreements.

The Law 93/2019 amending the Labour Code, which came into force on 1 October 2019, eliminated the regime of ‘individual working time accounts’, but provided for a period of one transition year, until October 2020, during which this regime still could apply. At the same time, this amendment introduced the regime of ‘group working time accounts’ (banco de horas grupal) (article 208-B). This new regime can be implemented in two ways: by collective agreements; or implemented at company level, when approved by the workers on the basis of ‘referendums’ organized by the employer, applying to all workers in a team, section or economic unit. The works councils (comissões de trabalhadores) and the trade union delegates at the company level have a mere role of surveillance of the referendum process. In the absence of representatives (the case of the large majority of Portuguese companies), the workers can designate a representative commission with the maximum three or five members. Labour inspection has the role of surveillance of referendum in the case of companies with less than 10 workers without worker representatives.

For more detailed information on working time (including annual leave, statutory and collectively agreed working time), please consult:

Overtime regulation

Overtime is regulated by the Labour Code, by collective bargaining and by employers at company level.

The Labour Code sets the general framework by defining basic notions and by setting certain limits, for example to the maximum number of overtime hours per year and per day.

Collective agreements at branch, professional or company level may regulate overtime in the respective areas within the stipulations of the Labour Code. Namely defining more favourable provisions concerning overtime limits and forms of compensation including overtime payment. There is no articulation between the different levels of collective bargaining.

Employers regulate overtime in their companies within the stipulations of the Labour Code and of the respective collective agreement (if there is one).

The amendments made in 2012 to the Labour Code reduced by half overtime time payment and suspended for two years collective bargaining provisions more favourable to the workers. This reduction is still in place but collective agreements may set more favourable rules.

Part-time work

According to the Portuguese Labour Code (Law 7/2009 of 12 February), a part-time worker is an employed person whose normal working hours are lower than the normal working hours prevailing in the enterprise/institution, for the respective professional category or in the respective occupation. In 2019, 7.9% of the Portuguese workforce had a part-time job, slightly less than half of the EU27 average. Part-time work is more evident among Portuguese female workers. Although the difference has been decreasing over the years, the percentage of female workers working part time is still considerably higher than that of male workers.

Persons employed part-time in Portugal and EU27 (% of total employment)

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total (EU27)

18.2

18.1

18

17.8

17.8

16.6

Total (Portugal)

9.6

9.2

8.6

7.8

7.9

7.3

Women (EU27)

30.2

30

29.8

29.5

29.4

27.6

Women (Portugal)

12.3

11.9

11.4

10.2

10.7

9.8

Men (EU27)

8

7.9

7.9

7.7

7.8

7.2

Men (Portugal)

6.9

6.6

5.8

5.4

5.1

4.7

Source: Eurostat Labour Force Survey [lfsi_pt_a] – Persons employed part-time (20 to 64 years of age) – total and by sex.

Involuntary part-time

Involuntary part-time workers can be defined as those working part time because they could not find a full-time job.

Persons employed in involuntary part-time in Portugal and EU27(% of total part-time employment)

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total (EU27)

32.3

31.0

29.7

28

26.5

25.0

Total (Portugal)

50.7

49.2

48.5

46.2

44.6

45.5

Women (EU27)

28.8

27.7

26.4

25.2

23.9

22.5

Women (Portugal)

55.0

52.8

49.9

48.7

46.9

47.1

Men (EU27)

43.6

41.8

40.4

37.2

34.9

33.1

Men (Portugal)

43.2

42.8

45.8

41.5

39.8

42.3

Source: Eurostat Labour Force Survey [lfsa_eppgai]- involuntary part-time employment as a percentage of the total part-time employment, by sex and age (20 to 64 years of age)

Night work

According to the Portuguese Labour Code (article 223), night work means a period with a minimum duration of seven hours and a maximum duration of eleven hours, including the time range between midnight and 05.00, comprised in the period between 22.00 of one day and 07.00 of the next day unless provided otherwise by collective agreement instrument.

Shift work

Shift work (article 220 of the Portuguese Labour Code) means that the work is performed in daily and successive, continuous or discontinuous periods and the workers change periodically and regularly from one working schedule to the subsequent one, according to a pre-established scale.

Weekend work

The Portuguese Labour Code (Law 7/2009 of 12 February) establishes in its article 232 on weekly rest that the worker has the right to at least one day of rest per week. The mandatory weekly day of rest can be on a day other than Sunday, in the case the employee worker provides activity: In a company or business sector exempted from closing or suspending operations one full day a week, or that is required to close or suspend operations on a day other than Sunday; in a company or department of a company whose operation cannot be interrupted; in an activity that must take place on a rest day for the remaining workers; in surveillance or cleaning activity; and in activities in fairs and exhibitions.

In all the other situations, the article 229, regulating compensatory rest for overtime, establishes that those that work at Sundays are entitled to a day of paid rest on one of the following three days. Moreover, according to article 268, as amended by Decree Law 23/2012 of June 25, overtime is paid at the hourly wage amount with an increase of 50% for each hour or fraction, in weekly mandatory day rest or complementary day of rest; before 2012 it was an increase by of 100% for each hour or fraction.

Rest and breaks

The Portuguese Labour Code (Law 7/2009 of 12 February) establishes in its articles 214 and 232 the right of the worker to a daily rest of at least eleven consecutive hours between two consecutive periods of daily work; and the right to at least one day of rest per week. A period of complementary weekly rest, continuous or discontinuous, in all or in some weeks of the year, may be imposed by collective agreement instrument or by employment contract.

Working time flexibility

Law 7/2009 of 12 February and Law 23/2012 of 25 June introduced significant changes in working time regulations in Portugal. While the standard working time continued to be 40 hours a week and 8 hours per day, new forms of working time flexibility and new regulations on overtime were introduced.

Law 7/2009 of 12 February introduced the regime of working time adaptability, with the possibility of working 60 hours a week and 12 hours per day, to be set up by collective agreements, with the condition that it would not exceed 50 hours on average for a period of two months. It also introduced a regime of individual adaptability whereby employer and employee can have an individual agreement defining periods of normal working time of 10 hours per day and 50 hours per week.

Law 23/2012 introduced the concept of individual working time accounts (banco de horas individual) to be negotiated between the employer and the individual employee, without the interference of the unions or of worker representatives, a measure that weakened collective bargaining and the bargaining power of the unions. With the Law 93/2019 this concept was replaced by the concept of group working time accounts (banco de horas grupal), although for a transition period of one year it remained in place (see working time regulation).

The Portuguese Labour Code, in its article 56, provides that the worker with a child under twelve years old (or with a child, regardless of age, with a disability or a long-term illness) has the right to working time flexibility. Flexible working time is defined as the possibility to choose, within certain limits, the start and end of the working day. The worker with working time flexibility may work up to six consecutive hours and up to ten hours each day and must fulfil the corresponding normal weekly working period, on average for each four-week period.

Health and well-being

Health and well-being

Maintaining health and well-being should be a high priority for workers and employers alike. Health is an asset closely associated with a person’s quality of life and longevity, as well as their ability to work. A healthy economy depends on a healthy workforce: organisations can experience loss of productivity through the ill-health of their workers. This section looks into psychosocial risks and health and safety in Portugal.

Health and safety at work

Law 7/2009, of 12 February (articles 281 to 284) establishes the general principles on health and safety at work; and Law 102/2009, of 10 September, recently amended by Law 79/2019 of 2 September, regulates the legal regime for the promotion and prevention of health and safety at work, in accordance with the provisions in article 284 of the Law 7/2009, of 12 February.

Accidents at work, with four days’ absence or more working days lost

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

All accidents

113,392

111,936

116,148

110,094

n.a

Percent change on previous year

2.0

-1.3

3.8

-5.2

n.a

Per 1,000 employees

30.6

29.6

     

Source: Eurostat Labour Force Survey [hsw_mi02] – accidents at work by days lost, by sex and age.

Men are more vulnerable to accidents at work, both fatal and non-fatal. The number of accidents involving an absence of four or more days from work decreased in 2018: in 2018, there were 110,094 accidents with more than four days’ absence, representing a decrease of 2.9 compared to 2015.

Accidents at work, fatal and non-fatal, by sex, age and number of working days lost

   

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Non-fatal

208,296

207,429

209,250

195,658

n.a.

Sex

Men

144,176

142,026

143,192

126,253

n.a.

Women

64,120

65,403

66,058

69,405

n.a.

Age group

Up to 34 years

63,456

63,030

68,376

60,808

n.a.

35–44 years

58,098

56,050

54,375

48,465

n.a.

45–54 years

51,480

52,285

50,983

46,260

n.a.

55+ years

29,905

30,522

29,968

29,868

n.a.

Unknown

5,184

5.542

5,686

10,257

n.a.

 

Accidents with four days’ absence or more

134,378

135,034

135,489

130,434

n.a.

Fatal

161

138

140

103

 

Sex

Men

159

134

135

101

n.a.

Women

2

4

5

2

n.a.

Age group

Up to 34 years

33

11

18

11

n.a.

35–44 years

34

25

39

13

n.a.

45–54 years

58

47

35

45

n.a.

55+ years

34

55

45

27

n.a.

 

Unknown

   

3

7

n.a.

Source: GEP/MTSSS (2020), Séries Cronológicas Acidentes de Trabalho 2007 – 2018 [Cronological series on Occupational Accidents], Gabinete de Estratégia e Planeamento/ Ministério do Trabalho, Solidariedade e Segurança Social.

Psychosocial risks

Law 102/2009 of 10 September, Article 15, amended by Law 3/2014 of 28 January, specifies that besides chemical, physical and biological risks, the employer must ensure that exposure to psychosocial risks is limited and that the safety and health of workers is not at risk.

Law 73/2017 of 16 August, amended by the Declaration of Rectification 28/2017 of 2 October, reinforces the legal framework that regulates harassment at work in the private and public sectors, amending the Portuguese Labour Code, the Labour Procedure Code and the General Labour Law in Public Functions. Companies with seven or more employees are required to adopt codes of good conduct aimed at preventing and combating harassment at work. Noncompliance constitutes a very serious administrative infringement, triggering penalties of variable amounts, depending on the company’s annual turnover and the employer’s degree of responsibility.

In 2017, the ‘Guide for the development of the code of good conduct for preventing and combating harassment at work’ (Guia para a elaboração do código de boa conduta para a prevenção e combate ao assédio no trabalho) was launched by the Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment (Comissão para a Igualdade no Trabalho e no Emprego, CITE). It aims to assist employers in the creation of a management tool to facilitate the policy of zero tolerance to harassment.

For more detailed information on health and well-being at work, please consult:

Skills, learning and employability

Skills, learning and employability

Skills are the passport to employment; the better skilled an individual, the more employable they are. Good skills also tend to secure better-quality jobs and better earnings. This section briefly summarises the Portuguese system for ensuring skills and employability and looks into the extent of training.

National system for ensuring skills and employability

The Qualifica centres are responsible for the educational and occupational Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences (RVCC) processes for adults; collaborating in the definition of criteria for structuring a network of educational and training opportunities appropriate to local qualification needs, improving contact between schools and companies’ training centres; monitoring the young people’s and adult’s paths referred for different qualification solutions to benchmark the fulfilment or deviation of the trajectories defined; and collecting information regarding the interaction between the learning outcomes of young people and adults and the labour market in order to improve the quality of education and training system.

The Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences System (Sistema de Reconhecimento, Validação e Certificação de Competências, RVCC) allows accreditation for skills and competencies that have been acquired in different learning contexts, including personal, professional and social life. RVCC includes three stages: recognition (of knowledge, know-how and skills of each applicant), validation (of skills through a standard assessment) and certification of skills (which is formalised by issuing a certificate of basic education at level 1, 2 or 3 or a secondary education diploma, depending on the case).

The Qualifica programme comprises a set of lifelong learning measures that had been implemented within the ‘New Opportunities’ initiative and was subsequently discontinued.

This programme focuses on adult education and training, complementing a process of certification with training. Its main objective is to contribute to the improvement of the levels of qualification among the population and the improvement of individuals’ employability. Qualifica centres, where adults can validate their competences, are key structures in the implementation of this programme.

Training

The Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional, IEFP) is responsible for managing public employment services, job centres and vocational training centres. IEFP aims to promote employment and combat unemployment through the implementation of active employment policies, including vocational training.

Work organisation

Work organisation

Work organisation underpins economic and business development and has important consequences for productivity, innovation and working conditions. Eurofound research finds that some types of work organisation are associated with a better quality of work and employment. Therefore, developing or introducing different forms of work organisation are of particular interest because of the expected effects on productivity, efficiency and competitiveness of companies, as well as on workers’ working conditions. Ongoing research by Eurofound, based on EurWORK, the European Working Conditions Survey and the European Company Survey, monitors developments in work organisation.

For more detailed information on work organisation, please consult:

For Portugal, the European Company Survey 2019 shows that between 2010 and 2013, 57% of establishments with 10 or more employees reported changes in the use of technology, 43% introduced changes in ways to coordinate and allocate the work to workers and another 20% saw changes in their working time arrangements.

Equality and non-discrimination at work

Equality and non-discrimination at work

Equality between men and women is enshrined in the Portuguese Constitution, namely in the employment field.

Furthermore, specific legal provisions ensure equality and non-discrimination at work:

  • Law 105/97 of 13 September aims to ensure the effectiveness of the right of both sexes to equal treatment at work and employment.
  • The Labour Code (Law 7/2009 of 12 February) includes a subsection on Equality and Non-discrimination, which includes provisions regarding the prohibition of discrimination based on sex as well as sanctions in case there is a breach of the law.
  • Decree-Law 133/2013 of 3 October establishes that public companies must implement goals of social and environmental responsibility, namely the promotion of equality and non-discrimination, and adopt equality plans in order to achieve effective equal treatment and opportunities between men and women, to eliminate discrimination and to promote the reconciliation of professional, family and personal life.
  • Law 35/2014 of 20 June approves the General Labour Law in Public Functions, applying the provisions of the Labour Code, namely regarding equality and non-discrimination and parenting.
  • Law 120/2015 of 1 September proceeds to the ninth amendment to the Labour Code reinforcing the rights of maternity and paternity, as well as including several measures to promote a better work–family reconciliation.
  • Law 28/2015 of 14 April prohibits discriminatory practices based on ‘gender identity’.
  • Law 93/2017 of 23 August establishes the legal regime for the prevention, prohibition and fight against discrimination on the grounds of race/ethnic origin, nationality, ancestry and territory of origin.

On 5 December 2018, the Programme ‘3 Aligned – Programme for the Reconciliation of Professional, Private and Family Life 2018-2019’ was launched. This programme aims at promoting a better work-life balance as a condition for equality between men and women as well as for a full citizenship. Since then, some specific legal provisions were created reinforcing parenting protection and non-discrimination at work:

  • Law 26/2019 of 28 March establishes the balanced representation regime between men and women with regard to the management staff and in Public Administration’s bodies.
  • Law 90/2019 of 4 September reinforces parenting protection, amending the Labour Code and the Decree-Law 89/2009 of 9 April and 91/2009 of 9 April.

The national mechanism for the promotion of equality and non-discrimination between men and women in labour and employment is the Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment (Comissão para a Igualdade no Trabalho e no Emprego, CITE). Its main responsibilities are to promote equality and non-discrimination between women and men in labour, in employment and in vocational training; protection of parentality (maternity, paternity and adoption); and reconciliation of professional, personal and family life.

Although the promotion of equality and non-discrimination between men and women in labour and employment is not its main mission, the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality (Comissão para a Cidadania e a Igualdade de Género, CIG) also has competences at this level.

Equal pay and gender pay gap

As provided for in Article 31 of the Labour Code, approved by Law 7/2009 of 12 February, women are entitled to receive equal pay for equal work or work of the same value as that performed by men. Nevertheless, a gender pay gap persists regarding both wages and earnings.

The gender pay gap has being narrowing. The monthly remuneration decreased 2.7% (from 14.8% in 2017 to 14.4% em 2018) and the average monthly earnings decreased 2.2% (from 18.2% in 2017, to 17.8% in 2018)).

The gender pay gap has been addressed by several legislative support measures:

  • The Resolution of Council of Ministers 13/2013 of 8 March approved a set of measures ensuring and promoting equal opportunities and outcomes for women and men in the labour market. The main objective of these measures is the elimination of the gender wage gap; the promotion of balance between work and personal and family life; the encouragement of corporate social responsibility; and the elimination of occupational segregation and other differences that still exist.
  • The Assembly Resolution 45/2013 of 4 April recommends that the government implements the necessary mechanisms to combat direct and indirect wage discrimination by prioritising inspective and punitive action. It also develops a national plan against direct and indirect wage discrimination.
  • The Resolution of Council of Ministers 18/2014 of 7 March has adopted several measures for the promotion of equal pay between men and women and the elimination of wage discrimination based on sex, namely:
    • the discussion about wage differences will be promoted among the social partners;
    • every three years, state-owned companies should produce a report on male and female wages in order to take concrete measures to be included in the respective plans for gender equality;
    • following this report, state-owned companies should take concrete measures to eliminate the situations of wage inequality between women and men that were identified;
    • to provide an electronic tool to companies to evaluate the gender pay gap and identify concrete situations of wage differences between women and men which cannot be explained by objective factors;
    • it is recommended that private companies with more than 25 employees develop a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the pay gap between women and men. These companies should consequently develop a strategy to address the unjustified differences in those remunerations.
  • The Resolution of the Council of Ministers 11-A/2015 of 6 March 2015 provides for a mechanism to support companies in the identification and analysis of the gender pay gap as a tool to promote equal pay.
  • Law 60/2018 of 21 August introduces measures to promote equal pay between women and men who perform equal work or work for equal value.

Quota regulations

  • Over the years, particularly since 2012, a legal basis for encouraging the participation of women in management bodies was developed: The Resolution of Council of Ministers 19/2012 of 23 February aims to increase the participation of women in management bodies of companies in the public and private sectors. Public companies must adopt plans for equality and identical procedures are recommended for the private sector.
  • The Decree-Law 133/2013 of 3 October laid down the principles and rules applicable to public sector companies. This Decree-Law establishes that the administration and supervision bodies of state-owned enterprises must pursue the objective of a plural presence of men and women in their composition.
  • The Resolution of the Council of Ministers 11-A/2015 of 6 March 2015 marks the commitment with listed companies aiming at a more balanced representation of women and men in their boards, with a target of 30% of the underrepresented sex until the end of 2018.
  • Law 62/2017 of 1 August establishes a minimum representation of women on executive company boards and surveillance boards in public companies and private listed companies. For public companies, the required minimum of female board members is 33.3% since January 2018. For private listed companies, the set minimum is 20% since 1 January 2018, but increasing to 33.3% from 1 January 2020.
  • Law 26/2019 of 28 March 2019, which established a minimum 40 per cent threshold of women among top civil servants in public administration, and in public higher education institutions and public associations.
  • Organic Law 1/2019 of 29 March 2019, which raised from 33.3% to 40% the minimum threshold of women in electoral lists to the national and European parliaments, elective bodies of municipalities, and members of the Parish Councils

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