Work and employment in Portugal: requirements for foreigners, employment contract

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Work and employment in Portugal: requirements for foreigners, employment contract

Due to its location and climate, Portugal attracts many tourists. They come for new experiences, and the opportunity to relax on the Atlantic coast with a balanced rhythm of life and beautiful views. Many of them also dream of staying in this country forever, thus employment in Portugal opens up great opportunities for a potential immigrant. However, it won’t be a piece of cake.


Peculiarities of job search in Portugal

As well as in all other EU countries, employment in Portugal follows the established scheme: before inviting a foreign employee, the company must confirm that there are no relevant applicants among the local citizens. Approval from the Institute of Employment is a necessary step that the employer must take. This is the only option that allows foreigners to submit documents for a work permit. Based on the permit, a working visa and, subsequently, a temporary residence permit are issued.

Depending on the employee's field of employment, the permit may be of several types: sports and entertainment, science and technology, employment, and independent employment.

It is possible to search for a job at home via online services, and also through Portuguese employment agencies. However many of them may offer non-existent vacancies or offer incorrect document preparation. This increases the risk of vain expenses as well as visa denial. And in some cases, one can get an entry ban for forging papers.

When looking for a job, one should:

carefully study reviews on the employer or agency;

ask questions and clarify details of your interest with the HR manager;

pay attention to any possible inconsistencies in the job description and conditions (e.g. location, schedule, duties, etc.);

check with the employer whether the vacancy has been approved, and also pay close attention to young companies;

The Portuguese are loyal to tourists who come to the country looking for employment, thus the most effective (but also expensive) way is a trip to Portugal. Still, in case of insufficient preparation, such a trip may turn out to be quite useless.




Requirements for foreigners

Most migrants mistakenly believe that the highest number of open positions will be in large cities, such as Lisbon, Porto, or Minho. But in fact, small tourist settlements are in real need of employees.

A lot of open positions can be found in the sphere of tourism and entertainment, service and beauty, and seasonal work in picking fruits and vegetables. Also, medical workers, IT specialists, and representatives of the design and art industry are often sought here.

Almost every company requires from the applicant provision of:

education diploma (with international confirmation);

confirmation of work experience in the specialty;

recommendation letters from previous employers or clients;

certificates confirming language proficiency (English and Portuguese), as well as diplomas on improving the level of qualification.


Employment contract: tricky moments

An employment contract is a mandatory document that is the base for a work permit, work visa, and residence permit issuance. It should contain all aspects related to the position and expected performance, including:

workplace with exact address;

position and duties of the employee;

level of wages (before tax deduction!);

exact schedule;

amount and period of bonus offers;

duration of the contract;

duration of the trial period;

number of days off and vacations;

requirements for the terms of dismissal;

Since all documentation is processed in the state language only, some employers may include clauses that were not pre-agreed. Additionally, the employee is not obliged to sign the contract immediately, as he| or she has a right to take the papers home for a day to check everything carefully.


What should you pay special attention to?

  • Type of employment contract: since most of the mentioned contracts in Portuguese are very similar to each other, there is a possibility to get not a fixed-term employment contract for a 1-2 or 5-year period (Contrato de Trabalho a termo certo) but a contract with an indefinite term of employment (Contrato de Trabalho a termo incerto). Thus there is a risk of being fired at any moment because of the wording and the indefiniteness of the working term.

Additionally do not confuse an employment contract with a contract for the service provision. The latter is not an employment contract at all, and the company bears no responsibility for the employee.

  • Clause implying inadmissibility of competition (pacto de não concurrence). When signing such a contract, the employee states that he|she won’t get a job in the same field within a certain period of time (up to 2 years) after dismissal. Violation of this clause makes the employee pay compensation, which often exceeds the average level of annual income. But the clause of “dever de não concorrência”, which also concerns competition, should not be bothersome as such obligation ends with the termination of the contract.
  • Deadlines for applying for dismissal. In some cases, the termination of the contract may take up to 6-10 months.

In addition to the individual employment contract, the relationship between the employee and the employer in Portugal is regulated by a collective agreement. So every employee must get acquainted with it.