EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Municipality of Porto, Portugal: Exit policy


Case study name: 
Ageing workforce
Organisation Size: 
Public sector
Target Groups: 
Unskilled Manual
Initiative Types: 
Exit Policy


Organisational background


The Municipality of Porto has launched a preventive training programme to prepare employees for their transition to retirement.

Porto is Portugal’s second largest city with about 240,000 inhabitants. The city is situated in the centre of a region which has about 1.9 million inhabitants and a very high population density. The Municipality of Porto is responsible for communal administration, services for citizens, and the maintenance and development of the local technical and social infrastructure – such as buildings, roadworks, waste disposal, cultural events, schools and social housing.

Due to the privatisation of some of its tasks, the municipality has reduced its workforce to about 3,300 employees, comprising 63% men and 37% women. The reduction in personnel was mainly achieved through early retirement schemes. The proportion of employees aged over 50 years is 23%, or 26% for men and 19% for women. The municipality employs a relatively high proportion of low-skilled workers (14%) and unskilled workers (36%). Over 36% of the employees have a job tenure of 20 years or more.

In Portugal, civil servants are entitled to draw a full pension after 36 years of service, regardless of their age. This situation is particularly problematic for low-qualified employees who started to work at a relatively early stage in their life and who may not wish to give up working while they are still aged in their 50s. To better manage the transition to retirement, the municipality has developed a training initiative that prepares employees for this new stage of life.

Portuguese trade unions are well represented within the municipality.

Good practice today

Due to Portugal’s special pension law for civil servants, most employees, especially low-skilled workers, retire from work relatively early. Many employees find it difficult to cope with the transition to retirement and the loss of a daily routine. To prepare employees for this new situation and to facilitate their transition to retirement, the municipality has developed a unique pre-retirement programme. The programme was introduced two years ago and, in 2006, some 48 people participated in the course.

The programme aims to prevent social, mental and health problems among employees approaching retirement age and to strengthen their autonomy and social inclusion. The initiative should be seen in the context of the municipality’s general personnel policy, which is driven by social responsibility and an ethically and personally oriented human resource management (HRM) system. The programme encompasses the following strategic goals:

  • to support activities and measures that strengthen the municipality’s social responsibility towards its employees;
  • to identify and minimise social, psychological and health problems;
  • to prepare employees in a proactive way for a life without paid employment;
  • to transform retirement into a productive phase of life;
  • to support employees in developing autonomy and independence, while encouraging self-development;
  • to facilitate the transition from an identity based on work to an identity based on the employee’s personal life and interests.

The course consists of three different modules:

  • Module 1 – retirement and its implications for daily life (transition to pension, legislation, rights and duties);
  • Module 2 – areas for intervention (personal development, changing attitudes, health promotion and nutrition, family life, intellectual changes, personal safety, security, economic changes, taxation, income and expenses, needs);
  • Module 3 – alternatives and solutions (professional and social perspectives, voluntary work and participation).

The course consists of a total of 27 hours’ training, which is divided into nine sessions lasting three hours each. Both internal and external experts run the courses, depending on the particular subject. Following the positive results of the programme in 2006, a new course has been scheduled for October to December 2007. Employees in the following categories are entitled to participate in the programme:

  • employees aged 61 years or over;
  • employees who have already applied for a pension;
  • employees who retired the year before.

The Municipality of Porto also runs a programme for people who are already retired because it aims to care not only for its employees but also for its retirees. For this reason, the municipality launched the so-called ‘retirement week’ in 2005, an event which includes cultural activities. In 2006, over 450 retired people – following an initial 300 people in 2005 – and their partners participated in concerts, day trips, museum visits and other cultural activities as part of retirement week. A similar programme has been organised for 2007. The municipality also organises a Christmas dinner for its retirees and their partners, as well as providing support to a group of retirees who meet regularly.

The abovementioned measures underline how social responsibility is one of the main focuses of the municipality’s personnel policy; this policy goes beyond mere employment issues and also takes into account the needs of its retired employees.

Further information

Contact: Norberta Lima, Human Resources Director, email:



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