Employment System
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In recent years, Portuguese labour laws have undergone various alterations and adjustments in order to adapt to the needs of employees and employers.

In regulatory terms, the main law is the Labour Code (Código do Trabalho). Alongside this law, there also exist other regulations which govern the labour market, namely collective regulatory instruments whose chief objective is to regulate the activity of each sector.

One of the most important aspects of the law concerns employment contracts, by which a person agrees, in exchange for payment, to perform an intellectual or manual activity for another person or persons under the organisation and authority of the latter.

Employment contracts consist of the following types:

  • Fixed-term employment contract (Contrato de Trabalho a Termo) – contract established for a determined length of time, usually over 6 months, and that can be renewed.
  • Fixed-term employment contract (contrato de trabalho a tempo resolutivo) – intended to satisfy the temporary needs of a company and for a period strictly necessary for these needs to be satisfied.
  • Part-time contract (contrato de trabalho a tempo parcial) - corresponds to a shorter normal weekly employment period than that worked by a full-time employee under comparable circumstances (around 75%), and may involve working only several days per week, month or year.
  • Intermittent employment contract (contrato de trabalho a tempo intermitente) – periods of work may be interspersed by one or more periods of inactivity; the parties establish the duration of the work, whether it is consecutive or intermittent, as well as when it begins and ends.
  • Fixed servie contract (contrato de trabalho em comissão de serviço) – for positions which assume and involve a special relationship of trust with an employer (e.g., administrative positions, executive positions dependent on the board of directors or CEO, secretariat functions, etc.). This kind of contract may apply to a company employee or someone hired for the purpose.
  • Tele-working contract (contrato de teletrabalho) – pressuposes the provision of work under legal subordination, usually outside the company and via the use of information and communication technologies. This kind of contract may apply to a company employee or someone hired for the purpose.
  • Temporary employment contract (contrato de trabalho temporário) – a fixed-term or open-ended contract signed between a temporary work agency and a worker in which the latter agrees, in exchange for payment, to provide a service to a third party while remaining bound to the former; or signed between a company and a temporary work agency, for a fixed or non-fixed term, in which the latter agrees, in exchange for payment, to provide the former with temporary workers.

There also exists a specific foreign worker's employment contract (contrato de trabalho de estrangeiros) in Portugal, which is subject to the terms of Article 5 of the Labour Code.

Foreign or stateless workers who are authorised to work in Portugal enjoy the same employment rights and are subject to the same obligations as Portuguese nationals.

The Working Conditions Authority (Autoridade para as Condições do Trabalho (ACT)) has made considerable efforts to ensure immigrant workers receive equal opportunities in terms of access to employment and working conditions and to prevent discrimination in the workplace based on nationality, in particular through informative and control actions. 

Further information about the foreign worker's employment contract can be obtained from:

The normal working week is 40 hours. However, some flexibility may be required to adapt an employee's working hours to the needs of the company.

In general, workers are entitled to an hour for lunch, 22 days of holiday and Christmas and holiday bonuses equal to their monthly pay.

Further information on the Portuguese Employment System can be found at:

The Employment and Vocational Training Institute (IEFP), which has a regional branch office in Porto, is the body officially responsible for promoting employment and qualifications.

The IEFP has a foreign qualifications recognition office and provides advice with finding employment and training opportunities, in particular with regard to Portuguese language learning (Programa Português para Todos), and other services that may be of use with integration.

To obtain employment in Portugal, citizens of the European Union should contact their nearest EURES adviser.

Check the EURES advisers at:

Published 21-05-2013