Generally speaking, the employment contract does not require any special form and may, therefore, be agreed under written form or verbally. However, there are certain situations in which the contract or some clauses must be executed in writing, examples of which are: i) fixed term employment contract; ii) part-time employment contract; iii) temporary work contract or intermittent employment contract; iv) teleworking contracts; v) single employee contracts with multiple employers; vi) non-competition clauses.
In order to supply the employee with a minimum set of information, the Code requires the employer to provide the employee with written information on the employment contract and working conditions, such as identification of the employer, the employee’s workplace, the employee’s category or a concise description of the employee’s duties, remuneration, normal daily and weekly working hours, etc.
There is no legal requirement for employment contracts to be executed in Portuguese, thus the use of other languages (e.g. English) is acceptable provided the employee understands the language used. Moreover, bilingual versions may also be used, in which case it is recommended to set a prevailing version. Nevertheless, contracts drawn in a foreign language, as a rule, will have to be translated into Portuguese when filed with a Portuguese authority or official and a translation certification may also be required.
Unless otherwise specified by the parties, employment contracts are deemed open-ended (i.e. permanent employment). Fixed term contracts are permitted by law provided that they are executed in written form and provided they are meant to fill a role required on the basis of a merely temporary need of the employing company. Hence, if there is no written contract, the employment contract will be deemed to be an open-ended contract.
Trial periods (initial probation) for permanent employees are 90 days, 180 days for high complexity, trust or responsibility roles and 240 days for management, directorate and equivalent responsibility roles. Fixed and unfixed term temporary contracts are subject to shorter probation periods i) 15 days if agreed for an expected or fixed duration shorter than 6 months; and ii) 30 days for durations equal to or longer than 6 months.
The employee is free to resign, subject only to certain prior notice periods. It is not possible to agree on longer probation periods than those legally foreseen, but it is possible to agree on shorter probation periods, as well as to fully exclude probation periods. Companies often pay salary in lieu of notice period in situations of collective dismissal, but the legality of this practice is questionable. The employee is allowed to do it with the consent of the employer. The salary must be fully paid until the date of the proper termination of the contract.