03 August 2023

Mandatory Vacations and Workers' Rights in Portugal

Vacations are an essential right for workers in Portugal, providing them with necessary rest and time to recharge.

However, there are circumstances where the employer can impose a mandatory vacation period. In this article, we will explore some relevant laws and regulations associated with this issue.


 1. Portuguese Labor Code

The Portuguese Labor Code, established by Law No. 7/2009 and subsequent amendments on February 12, is the main legislation that regulates labor relations in Portugal. Regarding vacations, Article 237 and following are particularly relevant and provide important rights to workers.

Duration of Vacations: According to Article 237, workers are entitled to 22 working days of vacation for each complete civil year of work. This duration is non-negotiable, meaning it cannot be replaced with financial compensation. Additionally, vacations must be taken by April 30 of the following year. Therefore, workers are guaranteed an adequate period of rest and leisure.

Splitting of Vacations: Article 238 establishes the right for workers to split the vacation period, meaning they can divide the 22 days into smaller periods throughout the year. However, to ensure a minimum rest period, it is mandatory that at least 10 working days are taken consecutively.

Mandatory Vacation Scheduling: Article 241 determines that the employer can schedule the vacation period for workers, as long as they notify the employees at least 30 days in advance. However, it is important to highlight that this imposition of vacations cannot affect the worker's right to take the vacation period they are entitled to by law, which is the 22 working days established in Article 237.

2. Employment Contract

In addition to the provisions of the Labor Code, the individual employment contract between the employer and the worker may also contain specific clauses regarding vacations. These clauses must respect what is established in current legislation and may agree on particular conditions, as long as they do not prejudice the rights guaranteed by law.

 3. Collective Labor Regulation Instruments (IRCT)

Collective Labor Regulation Instruments, negotiated between trade unions and business associations, may contain specific provisions regarding vacations for certain sectors or companies. For example, they may define collective vacation closure periods for certain activities. These collective norms must comply with the Labor Code and cannot undermine the fundamental rights of workers, including the minimum duration of vacations.

 4. Labor Code - Vacations

Decree-Law No. 89/2019, of June 28, specifies the procedures for taking vacations, vacation scheduling by workers, vacation payment, and other related issues. This document is important reading for both employers and workers, ensuring proper compliance with labor laws.


In summary, in Portugal, the employer can change the already scheduled vacations for workers, but it is essential to respect legal and contractual regulations. The worker is entitled to 22 working days of vacation per year, which can be taken either split or continuously, according to the agreed-upon conditions between the parties. In case of doubts or conflicts, seeking legal advice from Castilho International Legal Corporation Lawyers can help ensure that the rights of both parties are respected.

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