Portugal: Latest developments in working life Q1 2019

Recommendations to the government on tackling wage disparity and promoting equal pay for men and women, and controversy over the length of service being recognised for teachers are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Portugal in the first quarter of 2019.

Recommendation to tackle wage disparity approved

On 18 January, the Assembly of the Republic approved a recommendation to the government on defining a proportional limit for wage disparity in every company. The recommendation contained the following suggestions.

  • Define a minimum set of statistical information to be released each year by each company (e.g. the minimum, average and maximum wages paid).
  • Following consultation with the social partners in the Economic and Social Council, establish a mechanism for the proportional limitation of wage disparity in every public and private company.
  • Review remunerations in public sector companies in order to ensure that the limit is being applied.
  • Penalise private companies that do not implement the mechanism by increasing their social security contributions or preventing their access to subsidies and job creation support.

The wage disparity in Portugal has been the subject of policy debate and social dialogue for some time. According to calculations by the digital newspaper Dinheiro Vivo (based on corporate annual reports), the CEOs of the Portuguese companies listed in the PSI-20 stock market index earned 52 times more than their workers did in 2018. [1]

Recommendation to promote equal pay for men and women approved

The gender pay gap in Portugal remains at high levels, with the 2017 figures standing at 14.9% in terms of basic remuneration and 18.3% in terms of pay. [2]

On 8 February, the Assembly of the Republic approved a recommendation to the government on the adoption of measures aimed at promoting equal pay for men and women. The recommendation contained the following suggestions.

  • Fully map the pay inequalities between women and men in the public and private sectors.
  • Develop measures to reduce the pay gap and ensure the adoption of measures to promote transparency in this area (e.g. awareness-raising actions, the adoption of equality plans within companies and the reinforcement of labour relation inspections).


Controversy over length of service for teachers

The publication of Decree-law 36/2019, on 15 March 2019, concluded a cycle of unsuccessful negotiations between the government and unions in the teaching sector about length of service for the purpose of career development.

Trade unions argued that teachers’ careers had been frozen for nine years (by successive State Budget laws from 2011–2017) and so demanded that this time be recognised for the purpose of career development. However, the decree established that 2 years, 9 months and 18 days would be added to the length of service for all teachers from January 2019.

On 4 April, the Council of Ministers also approved a resolution applying to particular civil service careers such as the military, judges and the police. This resolution provides for the recovery of 70% of the ‘standard time of service’ relevant to their progression, to be implemented in three phases (in 2019, 2020 and 2021). In the case of teachers, the standard time of service is 4 years and 70% of that is the same 2 years, 9 months and 18 days listed in the March decree.

The government decisions were not welcomed by the unions, who are now threatening to intensify the conflict and prolong the protests until teachers are awarded nine years of service time.



  1. ^ Dinheiro Vivo (2019), CEO de cotadas na bolsa ganham 52 vezes mais do que trabalhadores , 9 April.
  2. ^ PORDATA (2019), Emprego e Mercado de Trabalho: Salários .

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