Labour Law in Portugal: What is Mandatory Professional Training?

5 min readJun 6, 2023

Portugal has become a popular destination for international individuals, thanks to its pleasant climate, hospitable people, and affordable cost of living. While some expatriates in Portugal continue to work remotely for companies based abroad, others are exploring job opportunities or starting their own ventures locally. Whether you are a local employer or a worker, knowing how to navigate the local labour law is essential.

The country’s labour laws align with the European Union’s worker protection standards, offering significant safeguards for residents living and working there. The rights of workers are outlined in the Portuguese Constitution (Constituição da República Portuguesa) and Labor Code (Código do Trabalho), which govern various aspects such as wages, working hours, occupational health and safety, vacation entitlements, work-life balance, and equal opportunities. In terms of mandatory training, according to Portuguese labour law, companies are obligated to provide professional training to their employees, ensuring that each worker receives a minimum of 40 hours of training annually.

Moreover, both employed individuals and those who are unemployed have the right to seek vocational courses to enhance their skills. The “ cheque-formação” is a government-funded training initiative available to individuals registered with the Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional (Institute for Employment and Vocational Training — IEFP). To access this program, companies or workers can submit their applications through the IEFP online portal. Employees can avail themselves of up to 50 hours of training over a two-year period, while unemployed individuals can receive up to 150 hours of training.

Employer’s Obligation to Provide Skill Development Plans or Training for Employees in Portugal

Mandatory professional training is in the interest of both employer and employee since, while the company sees its productivity and competitiveness increase, the worker improves his qualifications and employability. In this respect, Law no. 7/2009, of February 12, hereinafter referred to as Labour Code, states in its article 130 and following the compulsory nature of professional training is a right, and also a duty, of all workers.

Companies have the duty to ensure each worker the individual right to training, through a minimum annual number of training hours, through actions developed in the company or the granting of time to attend training at the worker’s initiative. Currently, 40 hours of training per year are required, and in respect of workers hired under a fixed-term contract for a period equal to or exceeding three months, a proportional calculation is made of the number of hours of training to be provided.

The employer is obliged to include, every year, 10% of its employees in the established training plan. The employer may anticipate or defer its employees’ annual training by up to two years, provided that the training plan so provides.

1. What is the purpose of mandatory training in portugal?

In accordance with Article 130 of the Labour Code, the purpose of mandatory training includes:

  1. Providing initial qualifications to young people who have recently entered the labour market without qualifications;
  2. Ensuring continuous training to all workers in a company;
  3. Promoting professional qualification or retraining of workers at risk of unemployment;
  4. Promoting professional rehabilitation of disabled workers, particularly those whose incapacity results from a work accident;
  5. Promoting socio-professional integration of workers belonging to groups with particular integration difficulties.

2. Are workers legally obliged to attend professional training in Portugal?

Yes. According to paragraph d) of no. 1 of article 128 of the Labour Code, workers are obliged to diligently participate in professional training provided by their employer.

3. Who bears the costs of training?

The employer is responsible for all costs related to training, including, for example, travel expenses.

4. What should the content of professional training be about?

Article 133 of the Labour Code states that the content of mandatory training should be determined by agreement between the parties or, if such is not possible, by the employer, in which case it should coincide or be related to the activity performed by the employee.

5. Who should provide mandatory training?

According to no. 1 of article 131 of the Labour Code, professional training may be developed by the employer, by a training entity certified for this specific purpose, such as Dgert, or by a recognized educational establishment.

6. Can training take place outside of working hours?

Yes. Whenever training takes place outside of working hours but does not exceed two hours per day, the worker should be paid at the normal hourly rate. If they exceed two hours, they must be paid according to the rules of overtime work.

7. What happens if the employer does not ensure compliance with the professional training of its employees?

Whenever the employer does not ensure compliance with the 40 annual hours of training until the end of the two years subsequent to its due, these shall be converted into credit hours of equal number for training at the employee’s initiative.

In this case, the area of training is to be chosen by the employee and must correspond to the activity performed or, alternatively, concern information and communication technologies, occupational safety and health or a foreign language. Credit hours for training are equivalent to a normal working period, conferring the right to remuneration and counting as effective working time. The employee may use credit hours to attend external training, by giving at least 10 days’ notice to the employer.

Unused credit hours provided for training shall cease three years after they have been granted, meaning that the worker shall no longer be able to benefit from them.

8. Effects of termination of the employment contract on the right to training in Portugal

Upon termination of the employment contract, the employee shall be entitled to receive payment corresponding to the annual minimum of hours of training that he/she has not been provided with, or to the credit hours for training that he/she is entitled to on the date of termination, as stated under the terms of article 134 of the Labour Code.

At BRIDGE IN we have an in-house experienced legal team that can help you navigate the complexities of Portuguese Labour Law. Are you thinking of expanding your operations in Portugal? Then get in touch with our experts today.

Originally published at on June 6, 2023.




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