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Discover everything you need to know about Portugal

Hire in Portugal at a glance

Here ares some key facts regarding hiring in Portugal

GDP growth
GDP world share
Payroll frequency
Working hours
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Overview in Portugal

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Portugal, a small yet diverse country in southwestern Europe, is known for its rich history, varied landscapes, and robust economy. It shares a border with Spain and has a long Atlantic coastline. The terrain ranges from mountainous regions in the north to fertile plains in the south, with the Azores and Madeira archipelagos offering unique environments.

Historical Overview

Portugal has a deep history, from early Paleolithic settlements to significant roles in the Age of Discovery, led by figures like Vasco de Gama. It transitioned from monarchy to a republic and experienced a dictatorship under Salazar, ending with the democratic Carnation Revolution in 1974. Portugal joined the European Economic Community in 1986.

Socio-Economic Context

Despite being a developed nation with a high standard of living, Portugal faces challenges like an aging population and economic inequality. It has a strong social safety net, high literacy rates, and a skilled workforce, though skill gaps in advanced technologies remain. The economy is service-dominated, but industry and agriculture are also significant, with notable production in wine and olive oil.

Cultural and Work Environment

Portuguese culture values family and personal relationships, influencing its business practices and communication styles, which favor indirectness and formality. Work-life balance is important, with flexible work arrangements becoming more common.

Key Economic Sectors

Tourism is vital, contributing significantly to GDP and employment. Manufacturing is strong, especially in textiles and cork production. Emerging sectors include renewable energy and technology, with Lisbon and Porto becoming hubs for startups and innovation.

Overall, Portugal blends traditional strengths with new opportunities, making it a dynamic part of the European landscape.

Taxes in Portugal

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  • Employer Contributions in Portugal: Employers contribute 23.75% of an employee's gross salary to social security, covering benefits like pensions and unemployment. They also pay into labor accident insurance and a wage guarantee fund.

  • Corporate Income Tax (IRC): The standard corporate income tax rate is 21%, with a reduced rate of 17% for qualifying SMEs. Special rates apply in autonomous regions like Madeira and the Azores.

  • Income Tax (IRS): Portugal has a progressive income tax system. For example, an income of €30,000 falls into the 35% tax bracket after applicable deductions.

  • Social Security Contributions: Employees contribute 11% of their gross salary to social security.

  • Solidarity Surtax: This additional tax targets higher incomes, with rates of 2.5% for incomes between €80,000 and €250,000, and 5% for those above €250,000.

  • VAT Rates and Exemptions: The standard VAT rate is 23%, with reduced rates for essential services and exemptions for sectors like healthcare and education.

  • VAT Filing: Businesses must register and file VAT returns monthly or quarterly, depending on turnover.

  • Tax Incentives: Portugal offers various incentives like reduced corporate tax rates for small businesses and credits for R&D activities.

  • Special Economic Zones: The Madeira International Business Centre provides a reduced corporate income tax rate and other benefits for eligible foreign companies.

These tax structures and incentives are designed to support both individuals and businesses while funding social services and promoting economic growth in Portugal.

Leave in Portugal

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In Portugal, employees are guaranteed a minimum of 22 working days of paid annual leave per year, with pro-rata accrual for partial years of employment. Vacation rights are non-waivable, and employers cannot substitute financial compensation for actual vacation time. Vacation scheduling requires mutual agreement, and employers must publish vacation schedules by April 15th each year. Unused vacation must be taken by April 30th of the following year, and during leave, employees receive their regular salary plus a vacation allowance.

Portugal observes several national holidays, including New Year's Day, Freedom Day, Labor Day, and Christmas, among others. Additionally, there are religious holidays like Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and municipal holidays specific to cities like Lisbon and Porto.

Employees also have entitlements to other types of leave such as sick leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, and parental leave, each with specific conditions regarding duration and compensation. Other leaves include bereavement and marriage leave. Collective bargaining agreements may enhance these basic entitlements.

Benefits in Portugal

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In Portugal, employee benefits are a crucial part of the social safety net, funded through mandatory contributions by both employers and employees. These benefits include a comprehensive pension system managed by the government, where employers contribute approximately 23.75% and employees 11% of their salaries. Healthcare is also covered, with basic services provided through the National Health Service, although wait times can be lengthy.

Employees enjoy a minimum of 22 working days of paid annual leave, generous parental leave, and compensation for sick leave and workplace accidents. To enhance these basic benefits, employers may offer additional perks such as private health insurance, life insurance, gym memberships, supplementary pension plans, flexible working arrangements, meal allowances, and transportation benefits.

The healthcare system includes mandatory public health insurance, which is part of the social security contributions, and optional private health insurance that offers quicker access to specialists and additional services. The retirement system combines mandatory public pensions with optional private pension plans, such as Pension Funds (FIAP) and Individual Pension Plans (PPI), to enhance retirement security.

Workers Rights in Portugal

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Portuguese labor laws outline three primary reasons for employer-initiated termination: Disciplinary Dismissal for serious misconduct, Collective Dismissal due to economic or structural reasons, and Dismissal Due to Inadaptability/Unsuitability for failing to meet performance expectations. Notice requirements vary by length of service, ranging from 15 to 75 days, except in disciplinary dismissals where no notice is required. Severance pay is provided except in cases of disciplinary dismissal.

Anti-Discrimination Protections

Portugal's laws protect against discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, and other factors. Employers must implement non-discrimination policies, prevent discriminatory environments, and handle complaints effectively. The Portuguese Constitution and Labor Code are key legislative frameworks supporting these protections.

Working Conditions

Portuguese standards mandate a 40-hour workweek, with provisions for overtime, daily and weekly rest periods, and a minimum of 22 paid vacation days annually. Employers must ensure a safe work environment, adhering to ergonomic requirements and providing necessary personal protective equipment.

Health and Safety Obligations

Employers are responsible for preventing occupational hazards, providing safety training, and maintaining a safe work environment. Employees have rights to a safe workplace, training on safety protocols, and can refuse unsafe work. The Autoridade das Condições do Trabalho (ACT) enforces these regulations, ensuring compliance through inspections and penalties for non-compliance.

Agreements in Portugal

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Employment contracts in Portugal are categorized into several types, each with specific regulations and benefits. The main types include:

  • Open-Ended Employment Contracts (Contrato sem Termo): These contracts do not have a predetermined end date, offering long-term employment stability. Termination is possible under conditions such as mutual agreement, legal grounds for dismissal, or company closure. Benefits include paid vacation, sick leave, and severance pay.

  • Fixed-Term Employment Contracts (Contrato a Termo Certo): These are temporary contracts used for specific situations like replacing an absent employee or covering seasonal work, with a maximum duration of two years, renewable twice under exceptional circumstances.

  • Short-Duration Employment Contracts (Contrato de Curta Duração): Limited to 60 days, these contracts are for short-term needs like peak periods. They require justification for use.

  • Part-Time Employment Contracts (Contrato a Tempo Parcial): These allow employees to work fewer hours than full-time, with benefits prorated based on hours worked.

Each contract type in Portugal must clearly outline details such as the identities of the employer and employee, job responsibilities, working hours, salary, benefits, and termination conditions. Confidentiality and non-compete clauses are also included under certain conditions, with non-compete clauses being generally restrictive and requiring compensation.

Probationary periods vary by contract type, with open-ended contracts allowing up to 240 days for senior positions, and fixed-term contracts having shorter probation periods. During probation, contracts can be terminated without prior notice or compensation, subject to certain conditions.

Remote Work in Portugal

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Portugal's legal framework for remote work, established in 2022, outlines specific rights and responsibilities for both employers and employees. Here are the key aspects:

  • Remote Work Arrangements: Employees can request remote work, but employers are not obligated to agree unless there are objective reasons to refuse. Agreements can be fixed-term or open-ended, with respective notice periods for termination.

  • Employer Obligations: Employers must provide necessary equipment and materials for remote work and ensure training on required technology. They are also responsible for maintaining a healthy and safe work environment, including regular eye exams, and must avoid contacting employees outside of working hours unless in emergencies.

  • Employee Rights: Employees have the right to disconnect after work hours and are entitled to a safe working environment. They also have various data protection rights under GDPR, such as access to personal data and the right to request data deletion.

  • Technological and Data Security: A robust internet connection is crucial, and employers should ensure reliable access. Under GDPR, employers must protect employee data, minimize data collection, and ensure transparency in data usage. Employees should use secure communication channels and be cautious of data sharing and phishing attempts.

  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Besides remote work, other flexible options include part-time work, flexitime, and job sharing, which cater to diverse employee needs and help maintain work-life balance.

  • Equipment and Expense Reimbursements: While employers are required to provide necessary equipment, the law does not mandate reimbursement for expenses like internet bills, though some companies might offer this voluntarily.

This comprehensive framework aims to support remote work while balancing productivity, employee well-being, and data security.

Working Hours in Portugal

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  • Standard Working Hours: In Portugal, the legal maximum is 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. However, shorter working hours can be negotiated through Collective Bargaining Agreements.

  • Flexible Working Schemes: Employers may extend working hours up to 12 hours per day and 60 hours per week for short periods, with the annual maximum not exceeding 175 to 200 hours depending on company size and circumstances.

  • Overtime Regulations: Overtime is regulated, with limits set at 150 hours per year for larger companies and 175 hours for smaller ones, potentially increasing to 200 hours under specific conditions like force majeure or collective agreements.

  • Overtime Compensation: Employees earn 125% of their hourly rate for the first overtime hour on weekdays, and 137.5% thereafter, or they can opt for compensatory rest. On rest days and holidays, the rate is 150%.

  • Rest Periods and Breaks: Employees must have 11 consecutive hours of rest every 24 hours and cannot work more than five consecutive hours without a break, typically around one hour.

  • Night and Weekend Work: Night shifts, defined as having at least three hours of work between 10 pm and 7 am, are limited to eight hours and come with a 25% pay increase unless otherwise agreed. Workers have rights to at least one rest day per week, usually Sunday, with specific protections for pregnant women and minors against night shifts.

This summary outlines the key aspects of working hours, overtime, and rest regulations under Portuguese Labour Law, emphasizing employee well-being and fair compensation.

Salary in Portugal

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Understanding market competitive salaries in Portugal is essential for both employers and employees. Employers aim to attract and retain talent with competitive compensation, while employees seek fair pay reflecting their skills and experience.

Factors Influencing Salaries:

  • Industry: Variations exist across sectors, with healthcare and tourism generally paying more than construction or education.
  • Experience: More experience or specialized skills lead to higher salaries.
  • Location: Higher salaries are typical in urban areas like Lisbon and Porto compared to rural regions.
  • Qualifications: Higher educational qualifications or certifications can command better pay.
  • Supply and Demand: High demand and low supply in certain professions push salaries up.

Researching Salaries:

  • Tools like SalaryExpert and Paylab.com provide insights into salary ranges by position and industry in Portugal. Additional research through job boards and professional networks is also beneficial.

Minimum Wage Levels:

  • As of January 1, 2024, the national minimum wage is €820.00 per month, with regional variations in the Azores and Madeira due to different living costs.

Legislative References:

  • The Portuguese Labour Code and specific decrees outline the legal framework for minimum wage and payment obligations.

Additional Considerations:

  • Payment Structure: Typically, the minimum wage is calculated based on 14 payments annually.
  • Bonuses and Allowances: Employers may offer performance bonuses, Christmas bonuses, meal, transportation, and other allowances to enhance compensation packages.

Payment Methods:

  • Salaries are usually paid monthly via bank transfer or less commonly by paycheck, with each payment accompanied by a detailed payslip as mandated by law.

This comprehensive understanding helps both parties navigate compensation in Portugal effectively.

Termination in Portugal

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In Portugal, employment termination and notice periods are regulated by the Código do Trabalho (Labor Code), Act No. 7/2009. Notice periods vary based on whether the termination is initiated by the employer or the employee and the employee's length of service.

For Employers (Objective Dismissal):

  • Less than 1 year of service: 15 days' notice.
  • 1 to less than 5 years: 30 days' notice.
  • 5 to less than 10 years: 60 days' notice.
  • 10 years or more: 75 days' notice.
  • Employers can opt to pay the employee for the notice period instead of having them work.

For Employees (Resignation):

  • Less than 6 months of service: 15 days' notice.
  • More than 6 months: 30 days' notice.

Severance Pay:

  • Entitled in cases like collective dismissal, job position extinction, and unilateral termination by the employer.
  • Calculated based on the employee's base salary and seniority, with a cap of 12 monthly salaries or 240 times the national minimum wage.

Types of Termination:

  • Resignation: Employee-initiated with required notice.
  • Mutual Agreement: Agreed termination terms between employer and employee.
  • Employer-Initiated: Includes disciplinary dismissal (requires a formal process) and objective dismissal (due to unsuitability or company-related reasons).

Employer-Initiated Termination Process:

  1. Written notice of termination with reasons and termination date.
  2. Inform employee's representative or works council.
  3. Conduct a prior hearing for the employee to defend themselves.
  4. Communicate the final decision in writing.

Employers must adhere to these procedures to avoid legal challenges, and employees can contest unfair dismissals through labor courts.

Freelancing in Portugal

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In Portugal, distinguishing between employees and contractors is crucial due to the implications on rights, benefits, and tax obligations. Employees are under the employer's control and integrated into the company's structure, receiving regular salaries and benefits. In contrast, contractors maintain autonomy, provide their own tools, and manage their own taxes and social security contributions. They typically work on a project basis and are not integrated into the company's routines.

Key factors in classification include the level of control and integration. The Control Test helps determine if a worker is an employee by assessing if the employer dictates the "what, how, and when" of tasks. Contractors often have multiple clients and manage their own schedules and business operations.

Contractors should have clear written agreements outlining work scope, compensation, and termination clauses. Common contract structures include fixed-fee, hourly rate, and performance-based contracts. Successful negotiation involves defining work scope, setting fair rates, and establishing clear payment terms.

Industries like IT, creative sectors, marketing, and construction frequently use contractors. Intellectual property (IP) rights are also vital, with freelancers typically owning the IP they create, though contracts should specify ownership and usage rights.

Freelancers must handle their own tax affairs, choosing between a simplified tax regime and an accounting regime that allows for business expense deductions. They also need to consider insurance options such as social security contributions, professional indemnity, public liability, and health insurance to mitigate risks associated with independent work.

Health & Safety in Portugal

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  • Legal Framework: The Constitution of the Portuguese Republic and the Labor Code establish rights to safe and healthy working conditions, further detailed in Law No. 102/2009, which aligns with the EU Framework Directive 89/391/EEC.

  • Employer Obligations: Employers in Portugal are required to conduct risk assessments, implement preventive measures, provide training and information on workplace hazards, maintain health surveillance, develop emergency plans, and keep records of workplace incidents.

  • Specific Health and Safety Requirements: Portuguese law mandates regulations on workplace conditions like ventilation, noise, and lighting, and addresses risks from chemical, biological, and physical agents. Employers must ensure safe operation of work equipment and manage risks like musculoskeletal disorders and workplace stress.

  • Enforcement and Penalties: The Autoridade para as Condições do Trabalho (ACT) is responsible for enforcing health and safety laws, conducting inspections, and can issue fines and sanctions for non-compliance.

  • Workplace Design and Conditions: Regulations specify standards for air quality, temperature, noise levels, and sanitation facilities in workplaces.

  • Risk Management of Hazards: Employers must adhere to regulations on handling hazardous chemicals, biological hazards, and ensure safety in the use of machinery and equipment.

  • Occupational Health Surveillance: Employers are obligated to provide health examinations related to workplace risks and maintain records of employee health and exposures.

  • Psychosocial Risk Management: Portuguese law includes provisions to prevent workplace harassment and violence and addresses psychosocial risks like stress and burnout.

  • Practices for OHS Implementation: Employers must provide safety training, personal protective equipment, and implement incident reporting and investigation procedures.

  • Inspection Authority and Procedures: ACT inspectors conduct routine, targeted, and follow-up inspections, with the authority to examine workplaces, assess compliance, and enforce corrective actions.

  • Workplace Accident Investigation and Compensation: Employers must report accidents, conduct internal investigations, and have occupational accident insurance to cover injuries and provide compensation.

Dispute Resolution in Portugal

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Labor courts in Portugal, comprising three levels—Tribunais de Trabalho, Tribunais da Relação, and the Supreme Court of Justice—handle disputes related to employment contracts, labor accidents, occupational diseases, and social security. They deal with cases like unfair dismissal and discrimination. Arbitration panels, either ad hoc or institutional, address issues like disciplinary measures and compensation disputes, but cannot handle public policy or indisposable rights disputes.

Portugal also conducts compliance audits and inspections through various authorities to ensure adherence to laws and regulations, with non-compliance leading to severe penalties. Whistleblowers are protected under Law No. 93/2021, which safeguards against retaliation and ensures confidentiality.

Portugal adheres to international labor standards set by the ILO, including conventions against forced labor and discrimination, and supports collective bargaining and child labor abolition. Domestic laws are influenced by these standards and EU directives, ensuring rights like association freedom and fair working conditions. However, challenges like informal work and temporary employment remain.

Cultural Considerations in Portugal

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Understanding Communication and Business Practices in Portugal

  • Indirect Communication: Portuguese tend to be indirect in communication to maintain group harmony, using softened messages to avoid confrontation. This is supported by Hofstede's low assertiveness score for Portugal.

  • Formality in the Workplace: Initial interactions and communication with superiors in Portugal are formal, using titles and last names, reflecting the culture's respect for hierarchy.

  • Non-Verbal Cues: Non-verbal communication, such as maintaining eye contact and using hand gestures, plays a significant role in Portugal, indicating attentiveness and engagement.

  • Negotiation Style: Portuguese negotiations are cooperative yet competitive, focusing on building long-term relationships and reaching mutually beneficial outcomes. The process tends to be slow-paced, involving multiple meetings.

  • Decision-Making: Typically top-down, with senior management making final decisions but often consulting lower-level employees, reflecting high power distance and a preference for bureaucratic structures.

  • Leadership Styles: Traditionally directive, with a shift towards more participative approaches in modern sectors, influenced by Portugal's collectivistic culture which values cooperation.

  • National and Regional Holidays: Various statutory and regional holidays, such as New Year's Day, Good Friday, and Portugal Day, impact business operations, with most businesses closed or operating reduced hours.

  • Cultural Values: The Portuguese value family and leisure, which is reflected in their observance of national holidays and the general business culture that respects these priorities.

Overall, successful business interactions in Portugal require an understanding of the indirect communication style, formal workplace etiquette, and the importance of building personal relationships and trust.

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