Logo L&E Global
Portugal | Morais Leitão

Employment Law Overview Portugal
COVID-19: Back To Work in Portugal
Employees vs Independent Contractors Portugal
Opening a Business in Portugal

04. Anti-Discrimination Laws


 There is a subsection in the Labour Code on equality and non-discrimination. Employees cannot be discriminated against throughout the duration of the employment contracts, including access thereto and termination thereof.

Extent of Protection

Discrimination based on any grounds is forbidden. The law expressly prohibits discrimination grounded on parentage, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, family situation, economic situation, education, origin or social conditions, genetic heritage, reduced work capacity, disability, chronic disease, nationality, ethnic origin or race, territory of origin, language, religion, political or ideological beliefs and affiliation with trade union, without prejudice of other discrimination grounds.

Protections Against Harassment

A number of reinforced legal measures for the prevention of harassment in labour context have been in force as from the last quarter 2017 providing for new obligations on the part of the employer, of which the following may be highlighted:

  • the presumption of the abusive nature of any disciplinary sanction applied by the employer to an employee that has reported harassment cases up to one year after the employee reported the case and/or exercised his/her rights resulting from harassment;
  • recognition of harassment as sufficient grounds for the affected employee to terminate the employment contract with immediate effect and to claim compensation, as a result of an act of harassment by the employer, conditional to it having been reported to the Authority for Labour Conditions;
  • liability of the employer for compensation of damages resulting from occupational diseases caused by harassment acts;
  • the requirement for employers (except those with a workforce of less than seven employees to adopt codes of good conduct to prevent and fight harassment in the workplace; and
  • the employer’s duty to initiate disciplinary proceedings when it becomes aware of harassment cases.

In 2019, amendments to the Portuguese Labour Code established:

  • additional duties to respect and treat fellow employees with urbanity and probity, ruling out any acts that may affect the employee’s dignity, which are discriminatory, harmful, intimidatory, hostile or humiliating to the employee, namely harassment:
  • the disciplinary penalty to be deemed abusive, when inflicted on employees claiming to be victims of harassment or who are appointed as witnesses in a judicial and/or administrative offence for harassment;
  • breach of legal or contractual guarantees against discrimination and in particular, acts that qualify as harassment by the employer or fellow employees, become grounds for termination for cause of the contract by the initiative of the affected employee, allowing him/her to seek compensation.

In addition, the Law provides that the Authority for the Conditions of Work must provide an electronic address for the reception of harassment complaints and must include information on harassment and harassment preventive, fighting and reaction measures in its Internet site.

Employer’s Obligation to Provide Reasonable Accommodations

There is no specific provision or requirement for employer to provide accommodations to employees. In certain sectors, collective bargaining agreements may establish rules on accommodation provisions or on the payment of allowances for the purposes of supporting reasonable accommodation, particularly in cases where the employee is temporarily displaced and prevented from performing his work.


Discrimination and harassment are forbidden and employees who are the object of discrimination or harassment acts may claim indemnification and compensation for monetary and non-monetary damages caused. The liability of the employer to compensate damages arising from an occupational disease caused by harassment, is subject to further regulation, yet to be approved.

Other Requirements

Gender quotas apply to governing and supervisory bodies of public sector business entities and of listed companies, for nominations occurring as from January 1, 2018.

Public sector companies must have a minimum representation of 33.3% of male and female members in the different governing bodies of the company.

In the private sector (i.e. listed companies), companies are required to fulfill a minimum 20% quota of each gender, from the first electoral general assembly held as of the 1st of January 2018. The minimum quota requirement will increase to 33.3% from the first electoral general assembly held as of January 1, 2020.

The aforementioned limits are to be introduced in the first shareholder meeting held after the mentioned dates. As such, these new requirements shall not apply to existing mandates (except when they are renewed or substituted).

Public-sector companies and listed companies will also have to draw up, annually, equality plans to achieve effective equal treatment and opportunities for men and women, by promoting the elimination of gender-based discrimination, and promoting the reconciliation of personal, family and professional lives. These must be published on the company’s website and sent to the Commission for Citizenship, and to the Gender Equality and the Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment.

Minimum quotas for disabled workers (disability levels equal or over 60% disability classification) are also applicable to medium and large-sized enterprises, when engaging and organising their workforce. The quotas applicable are the following: i) medium-sized enterprises: 1% quota for disabled workers; and ii) large-sized enterprises: 2% quota for disabled workers. These percentages are based on the average number of employees in the previous calendar year. These are requirements that were introduced in February 2019 and four and five year transition periods are in place, depending on whether the company exceeds 100 persons employed.

Any questions

Ask our member firm Morais Leitão in Portugal