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Employment Agreement Essentials

Understand the key elements of employment contracts in Guinea-Bissau

Types of employment agreements

In Guinea-Bissau, the labor law framework primarily recognizes two types of employment agreements: Indefinite-Term Contracts and Fixed-Term Contracts.

Indefinite-Term Contracts

Indefinite-Term Contracts, also known as "permanent contracts," do not specify an end date for employment. Although these contracts can be established verbally, it's highly recommended to have a written document outlining the terms and conditions to ensure clarity and enforceability.

Fixed-Term Contracts

Fixed-Term Contracts, on the other hand, stipulate a predetermined timeframe for employment. According to Guinea-Bissau law, fixed-term contracts are restricted to a maximum duration of two years. If the employment relationship extends beyond this period, the contract automatically converts into an indefinite-term contract.

Regardless of the type of employment agreement, all contracts in Guinea-Bissau must comply with specific legal requirements. The agreement must be documented in writing. It should be drafted in the official language of Guinea-Bissau, which is Portuguese, and utilize the local currency, the West African CFA franc. The agreement must also clearly outline key details such as salary/compensation and benefits packages.

Essential clauses

Employment agreements in Guinea-Bissau should clearly define the rights and obligations of both the employer and employee. Several key regulations and codes inform these agreements.

Identification and Start of Employment

The agreement should clearly identify the employer and the employee. It should also specify the official start date of employment and the employee's job title and a brief description of their duties.

Remuneration and Benefits

The agreement should outline the gross salary amount, payment frequency (e.g., monthly), and any applicable allowances (housing, transportation, etc.). It should also detail any benefits offered, such as health insurance, paid leave (annual, sick leave, etc.), and social security contributions.

Working Hours and Conditions

The agreement should define the standard work week (including number of hours per day and days per week) and any overtime arrangements and compensation. It should also specify the entitlement to annual paid leave and any sick leave or other types of leave offered by the employer.


The agreement should establish grounds for termination by either party, including notice periods and required compensation in case of wrongful termination.

Dispute Resolution

The agreement should indicate the legal jurisdiction that governs the interpretation and enforcement of the agreement. It should also outline the process for resolving any disputes arising from the agreement, such as through negotiation or mediation.

The agreement should be drafted in a language understood by both parties (typically Portuguese or French). It should also ensure adherence to all relevant Guinea-Bissau labor laws and regulations.

Probationary period

Probationary periods are a standard part of employment agreements in Guinea-Bissau. They provide an opportunity for employers to evaluate an employee's suitability for a role, while also allowing new hires to assess if the job is right for them.

Mandatory and Negotiable Probationary Periods

In Guinea-Bissau, a probationary period is mandatory for all new hires. The duration of this period is at the employer's discretion, within legal limits, but it can be negotiated between both parties during the hiring process.

Typical Duration of Probationary Periods

The standard probation period in Guinea-Bissau typically ranges from one to three months. However, there is room for flexibility depending on the agreement between the employer and the employee.

Extension of the Probationary Period

In certain circumstances, employers can extend the probationary period beyond the standard three months. This is particularly true for highly complex roles, where the probation period can be extended up to a maximum of six months.

Termination During the Probationary Period

During the probationary period, both employers and employees have more freedom to terminate the employment contract. Unlike after the probationary period, there is no requirement to provide a notice period for termination during this time.

Confidentiality and non compete clauses

In Guinea-Bissau, employment agreements may contain confidentiality and non-compete clauses to safeguard an employer's legitimate business interests. However, the law in Guinea-Bissau ensures a balance between these protections and the employee's right to work.

Confidentiality Clauses

Confidentiality clauses prevent employees from revealing an employer's confidential information to third parties. This information may encompass trade secrets, client lists, and technical processes.

  • Legal Basis: The Labor Code of Guinea-Bissau does not explicitly mention confidentiality clauses. However, the general principle of good faith, enshrined in Article 34, applies to all employment contracts. This principle implies a duty of loyalty from the employee, which can include the protection of confidential information.

  • Scope and Limitations: The range of confidential information should be explicitly defined in the employment agreement. Guinean law may consider overly broad restrictions unenforceable.

Non-Compete Clauses

Non-compete clauses limit an employee's capacity to work for a competitor or establish a competing business after leaving the company.

  • Legal Basis: Similar to confidentiality clauses, there is no specific legislation governing non-compete clauses in Guinea-Bissau. However, Article 35 of the Labor Code prohibits employers from imposing limitations that "unjustifiably restrict" an employee's right to work.

  • Enforceability: Non-compete clauses are generally disfavored in Guinea-Bissau. Courts will likely uphold such clauses only if they are deemed reasonable in terms of:

    • Duration: The restricted period should be limited and proportionate to the legitimate interests protected (e.g., protecting highly specialized knowledge).
    • Scope: The geographic and sectoral restrictions should be narrowly tailored to the employee's role and the employer's business.
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