Frequently Asked Questions

The information on this page does not exempt you from consulting the Labor Code and Labor Law in force.

The contents here present may change at any time, in case of doubt, seek legal advice from a specialized professional.

Accidents at Work and Occupational Illness

What is an accident at work?

An accident at work is an accident which takes place in the workplace during working hours and directly or indirectly causes physical injury, functional impairment or illness which reduces the worker's earning capacity or leads to their death.

Who has the right to compensation for accidents at work?

Workers employed by others in any capacity, if for personal gain, and their families have the right to compensation for damages resulting from accidents at work.

What is included in the right to compensation?

The right to compensation includes the following payments:

  • - In kind - medical, surgical, pharmaceutical, hospital and other services of any type, if they are necessary and appropriate for the recovery of the victim's health and working and earning capacity, to enable them to return to an active working life;
  • - In cash - compensation for complete or partial temporary incapacity for work; compensation in capital or a pension for life corresponding to the reduced working or earning capacity in the case of permanent disablement; compensation due to the family of the victim; subsidy for situations of severe permanent disablement; subsidy for the conversion of the victim's home; subsidy for death and funeral expenses.

In what situations does the worker have no right to compensation?

The employer does not have to pay compensation for damages caused by accidents which:

  • - Are caused maliciously by the victim or which are caused by any act or omission by them which violates the safety conditions established by the employer or laid down in law;
  • - Are caused exclusively by the gross negligence of the victim;
  • - Are caused by the victim's permanent or accidental loss of reason, pursuant to the Civil Code, except where the loss is derived from the actual work undertaken, is out of the victim's control or if the employer or their representative knows about their condition but still agrees to let them work;
  • - Are caused by a situation of force majeure.

What is force majeure?

An event is only caused by force majeure if it is due to an unavoidable force of nature, independently of human intervention, and is not a risk created by working conditions or caused while carrying out work expressly ordered by the employer in obviously dangerous conditions.

Does the foreign worker working in Portugal have the same rights as the Portuguese worker?

The foreign worker working in Portugal in the service of a Portuguese company has the same rights as a Portuguese worker.

But foreign workers who are victims of accidents at work in Portugal in the service of a foreign company, their agency, branch, representative or associated company may be excluded from this system if their work is temporary or intermittent and if there has been an agreement between the Member States to apply legislation in force in the State of origin to protect victims of accidents at work.

What rights does the worker have when they are working abroad?

The Portuguese and the foreign worker resident in Portugal who are victims of accidents at work abroad while working for a Portuguese company have the same rights as Portuguese workers who work in Portugal, except when the legislation of the State where the accident takes place recognises their right to compensation, in which case workers may choose between the systems.

What is an occupational illness?

An occupational illness is an illness which is included in the List of Occupational Illnesses, and which affects a worker who has been exposed to the risk by the nature of their activity or the conditions, environment and techniques of their habitual work.

Additionally, for the purposes of compensation, this category includes personal injury, functional impairment or illnesses not included in the list, if they prove to be the necessary and direct consequence of the activity undertaken and are not a result of normal wear and tear to the organism.

Who has the right to compensation for occupational illnesses?

A worker employed by others in any activity if pursued for personal gain, and their families, has the right to compensation for occupational illnesses.

When does the worker have the right to compensation for occupational illnesses?

The right to compensation for occupational illnesses included in the List of Occupational Illnesses assumes that the following cumulative conditions have been fulfilled:

  • - The worker is affected by the corresponding occupational illness;
  • - The worker has been exposed to the respective risk by the nature of the industry, activity or conditions, environment and techniques of their usual work.

How do I get sick benefit and where do I send the doctor's note?

A doctor's note, or rather, a certificate of temporary incapacity through illness (CTI), is written out by the doctor in a special form, issued by National Health Service, in hospitals, health centers or drug treatment clinics. It should be submitted to the social security services within five working days of the date it is issued.

When is the worker entitled to a doctor's note?

Their incapacity (illness) must be certified by the doctor at the competent services. The worker must have worked for six consecutive or non-consecutive months, with contributions paid into the social security system. During the four months preceding the illness they must have worked effectively for at least 20 days. During this time, they may have received other benefits like maternity benefit, but may only begin to receive sick benefit at least 60 days after the sick note expired. Self-employed workers will only receive sick benefit if they are covered by the extended system and if their social security contributions have been paid up until the third month immediately preceding the beginning of the illness.

How much will I get?

The doctor's note is registered and the social security services will issue an official letter, which will be submitted to the worker, stating the amount of benefit to be paid and information about dependents under their charge, taking into account:

In the case of tuberculosis, 80% of the worker's wage is paid if they have two dependents and 100% if they have three or more dependents.

This benefit is increased by 5% if the beneficiary:

  • - Has three or more children under the age of 16 (or 24 if they are still studying and receive a family allowance);
  • - Has one or more children receiving disability benefit;
  • - Has a daily wage of under 500 € when multiplied by 30 days.

Is sick benefit paid as soon as I fall ill?

No. If the worker is employed by others, it is only paid from the 4th day of incapacity. Self-employed workers are only paid from the 31st day. In the case of tuberculosis, admission to hospital or an illness which exceeds the period for which maternity benefit is received, it is paid from the 1st day.

If the doctor gives me a doctor's note for 100 days, do I immediately begin to receive 70% of my wage?

No. The first period of sick leave never exceeds 12 days. The certificate is renewed every 30 days from then on. 65% of the reference wage is paid up to the 90th day and it is only from the 91st day that 70% of this amount will be received. The percentage of sick benefit increases the longer the worker is off sick.

How long can I be paid sick benefit?

For 1095 days if you are employed by others or 365 days if you are self-employed. Persons suffering from tuberculosis receive sick benefit for unlimited periods.

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