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Navigating Paid Leave Laws in Portugal: A Guide for Global Employers

December 4, 2023

Entering the Portuguese market presents global businesses with a unique set of opportunities (and challenges). An important aspect of these challenges is understanding, and adhering to, the local employment laws in Portugal — especially those regarding paid leave. This guide delves into the various types of leave entitlements in Portugal, and what to know before you make your first hire in the country.

Annual Leave Entitlements

Annual Vacation Leave

Employees in Portugal are entitled to a minimum of 20 days of annual paid leave in their hiring year (between the hire date and December 31st), accruing at a rate of 2 days per month worked. Any unused vacation days can be carried over to the following calendar year and must be used by the anniversary of the hiring date.

In subsequent years, employees are entitled to a minimum of 22 days of annual paid leave, accruing at a rate of 2 days per month worked. Any unused vacation days can be carried over to the following calendar year and must be used by April 30th. A maximum of 30 days is allowed in total when counting accrued days and carried-over days.

Employers who wish to provide more days off to employees should add these to the contract as leave days, which are a separate type to the statutory vacation days.

Public Holidays

Portugal celebrates a range of public holidays, both religious and secular. Employers are required to provide paid leave on these days, and any work performed is considered overtime and subject to additional pay.

  • New Year’s Day - January 1
  • Good Friday - Friday before Easter Sunday
  • Easter - Date Varies
  • Freedom Day - April 25
  • Labor Day - May 1
  • Portugal Day - June 10
  • Corpus Christi - Second Tuesday after Whitsun
  • Assumption Day - August 15
  • Republic Day - October 5
  • All Saints’ Day - November 1
  • Restoration of Independence - December 1
  • Immaculate Conception Day - December 8
  • Christmas Day - December 25

Sick Leave

Employees are entitled to sick leave if they provide a medical note (either from the national health system or the official “Health 24” service). The first 3 days of sick leave are unpaid (though employers may choose to cover this); subsequent days are paid by social security for up to 1,095 days. The pay structure for sick leave varies over the duration of the illness, ensuring employees are supported during their recovery.

Parental Leave

Maternity Leave

Mothers in Portugal are eligible for 30 days of maternity leave before childbirth at full pay, and receive a mandatory 42 days of leave post-birth. This provision ensures mothers have adequate time to prepare for and recover from childbirth.

Paternity Leave

Paternity leave in Portugal is paid at 100% by social security, and includes an obligatory 7 consecutive days (or 5 working days) of leave taken immediately after the birth. It also includes 21 calendar days to be taken while the mother is on leave in the 42 days following the child's birth.

Initial Parental Leave

Both mothers and fathers in Portugal are entitled to parental leave, either 120 days paid at 100% salary from Social Security, or 150 days paid at 80% salary from Social Security. This period can increase in certain situations, such as shared leave or multiple births.

Adoption Leave

Employees who adopt a child under 15 are entitled to Initial Parental Leave, which is either 120 days paid at 100% salary from Social Security, or 150 days paid at 80% salary from Social Security. This leave may also be increased by 30 days for each additional child that is adopted.

Prenatal Care Leave

Pregnant employees in Portugal are allowed to take time off for prenatal consultations, given the country’s focus on the importance of maternal health in the workplace.

Special Leave

Carer's Leave

Portuguese law provides for Carer’s Leave, allowing employees time off to care for ill or injured family members. This leave is usually unpaid.

Bereavement Leave

Employees are entitled to bereavement leave in the unfortunate event of a family member's death. This leave varies depending on the relation to the deceased, and ranges from 2 to 20 days depending on the relationship to the employee.

Leave for Work-Related Injuries

In cases of work-related injuries, Portuguese law requires employers to provide insurance coverage, ensuring employees receive adequate support during their recovery.

Leave for Medically Assisted Procreation

Employees undergoing medically assisted procreation treatments are entitled to leave for consultations, supporting their journey towards parenthood. This leave is usually 3 days and the employer may request proof of the appointments.

Leave for Grandchild Care

Employees can take up to 30 consecutive days of leave following the birth of their grandchild if the grandchild is living with the employee and is a child of an adolescent under the age of 16.

Leave to care for a child with a disability or chronic illness

Parents can take up to 6 months of leave to care for a child with a disability or chronic illness, which can be extended up to 4 years.

Employ in Portugal (the easy way)

If you’re planning to expand your team into Portugal, understanding paid leave laws is not just about legal compliance - it's about respecting local culture and values. The breadth of Portugal’s paid leave laws underscores the country's commitment to work-life balance and employee wellbeing.

For global businesses, navigating these laws requires a deep understanding and expert guidance. Consider partnering with Remofirst as your Employer of Record to handle your international payroll and HR needs in 170+ countries. Explore our Portugal Country Guide for additional insights on hiring and managing employees in Portugal.