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Employee Rights and Protections

Explore workers' rights and legal protections in Guinea-Bissau


In Guinea-Bissau, the termination of employment is governed by a clear set of regulations. These regulations cover the legal grounds for dismissal, mandatory notice periods, and severance pay requirements.

Grounds for Dismissal

Employers in Guinea-Bissau can lawfully terminate an employee's contract for the following reasons:

  • Just Cause: This includes worker ineptitude or misconduct, serious breach of contract, or illness or injury that renders the employee unable to fulfill their job duties.
  • Economic, Technical, or Structural Reasons (Redundancy): Employers may also terminate employment contracts due to economic downturn, technological advancements, or company restructuring.

Notice Requirements

The mandatory notice period depends on the length of the employee's service:

  • Employees with less than three years of service: One month's notice is required.
  • Employees with three or more years of service: Two months' notice is required.

Employers have the option to provide payment in lieu of notice, but they are still obligated to respect the notice period length.

Severance Pay

Upon termination, employees in Guinea-Bissau are entitled to severance pay, the amount of which varies depending on the circumstances:

  • Termination for Economic Reasons: Employees are entitled to one month of pay for each year of completed service.
  • Termination for Other Reasons: Severance may be required but will likely be based on the employment contract or collective bargaining agreement.


Guinea-Bissau has made strides in addressing discrimination, particularly in the workplace. Although a comprehensive anti-discrimination law that covers a broad range of protected characteristics is not yet in place, there are certain constitutional and legal protections that have been established.

Protected Characteristics

In terms of employment, Article 20 (2) (b) of the 1986 Labour Law (Lei No. 2 of 1986) explicitly prohibits gender-based discrimination. Furthermore, the Constitution of Guinea-Bissau broadly enshrines the principles of equality and non-discrimination, although it does not specify protected characteristics.

Redress Mechanisms

While specific anti-discrimination mechanisms are limited, there are potential avenues for redress within Guinea-Bissau's labor framework and court system. Employees who experience discrimination in employment may have recourse through labor dispute resolution mechanisms under the Labour Code. Additionally, individuals can approach the courts to seek redress for violations of their constitutional right to equality and non-discrimination.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers in Guinea-Bissau have a responsibility to uphold the existing legal protections against discrimination. This includes avoiding discrimination in hiring and employment practices, ensuring that decisions regarding hiring, promotion, compensation, and termination are based on merit and not discriminatory criteria. Employers can also implement policies and training programs to foster a workplace free of discrimination and harassment.

Limitations and Challenges

Despite these measures, Guinea-Bissau's anti-discrimination framework has limitations, including the lack of protection for characteristics such as race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and disability. Advocacy efforts are ongoing to strengthen these protections.

Working conditions

In Guinea-Bissau, while there are laws outlining labor standards, enforcement is often weak, and working conditions can be challenging across various sectors. The main law governing working conditions in Guinea-Bissau is the General Labor Law of Guinea-Bissau (Law No. 4/86 of August 14, 1986).

Work Hours

The legal maximum workweek is 44 hours. Overtime work is permitted but must be compensated at a higher rate than regular working hours, determined by collective labor agreements or individual contracts.

Rest Periods

Workers are entitled to a minimum of 11 consecutive hours of rest per day. They are also entitled to one day of rest per week, typically Sunday. Workers are entitled to paid annual leave, with the amount of leave varying depending on the worker's length of service.

Ergonomic Requirements

Guinea-Bissau's labor laws have limited specific provisions addressing ergonomics. However, employers have a general duty to ensure workplaces are safe and hygienic, minimizing hazards to workers' well-being. Employers are also responsible for protecting workers' health on the job and preventing occupational injuries and illnesses.

Challenges in Practice

A large proportion of the Guinean workforce works in the informal economy, where labor regulations are less likely to be enforced. Child labor remains a concern in Guinea-Bissau, with children often found working in hazardous conditions. Government bodies responsible for labor inspection and enforcement often lack resources leading to inconsistent implementation of labor standards.

Health and safety

In Guinea-Bissau, health and safety regulations are designed to protect workers from workplace hazards and foster a safe working environment. These regulations establish certain obligations for employers and rights for employees.

Employer Obligations

Employers in Guinea-Bissau are legally obligated to ensure workplace health and safety. Their primary responsibilities include:

  • Risk Assessment and Prevention: Employers are required to identify and assess potential workplace hazards and implement preventive measures to mitigate these risks.
  • Provision of Safety Equipment and Training: Employers must provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and train workers on its usage. They must also offer adequate training on workplace safety procedures.
  • Maintenance of Safe Workspaces: Workplaces must be maintained in a safe and hygienic condition, with proper ventilation, lighting, and sanitation facilities.
  • Incident Reporting and Investigation: Employers are required to report workplace accidents and illnesses to relevant authorities and conduct thorough investigations.
  • Worker Consultation and Participation: Employers should involve workers in identifying and addressing health and safety risks.

Employee Rights

Employees in Guinea-Bissau have certain rights regarding workplace health and safety:

  • Right to Know: Employees have the right to be informed about workplace hazards and associated risks.
  • Right to Refuse Unsafe Work: Employees can refuse to perform work if they believe it poses an imminent danger to their health or safety.
  • Right to Participate: Employees have the right to participate in workplace health and safety committees and raise concerns.
  • Protection from Retaliation: Workers should be protected from any form of retaliation for exercising their health and safety rights.

Enforcement Agencies

The General Labour Inspectorate (Inspeção Geral do Trabalho) is a government agency within the Ministry of Labor responsible for monitoring and enforcing health and safety regulations.

Challenges and Limitations

Enforcing health and safety regulations in Guinea-Bissau faces several challenges:

  • Limited Resources and Capacity: Enforcement agencies often lack the resources and personnel for comprehensive inspection and monitoring of workplaces.
  • Informal Sector: The large informal economy poses greater challenges to enforcing health and safety regulations.
  • Lack of Awareness: Both employers and workers may have limited knowledge of health and safety regulations and their rights.
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