Country overview

Lionel Fulton (Labour Research Department)

There is no employee board-level representation in Portugal, although the constitution theoretically provides for it in publicly-owned companies. The transposition of the directive was delayed by a change of government in Portugal and both unions and employers had criticisms of the initial draft legislation. However, there was no widespread public debate.

There is no effective legislation giving employees the right to be represented at board level. In the private sector, legislation permits employee representation to be agreed between employers and unions, but in practice this does not happen. In state-owned companies the constitution gives works councils the right to “promote the election of workers’ representatives in the governing bodies of companies belonging to the state and other public bodies” and legislation in 1979 and 1984 gave employees the right to elect one member of the management board. However, in 1999 these rights were removed.
The directive on employee involvement in European companies was initially discussed in the tripartite Portuguese Economic and Social Council (CES), which produced a report on the subject which was approved in January 2003. Draft legislation was then published by the Portuguese government in October 2004, with the official period of consultation running to the end of the following month. However, parliament was dissolved in November 2004, and although the government could theoretically have introduced the legislation, it decided not to do so. Legislation implementing the directive was only finally passed a year later, following elections and a change of government.
Both unions and employers had substantial criticisms of the draft legislation (see section on position of trade unions and employers), but there appears to have been no widespread public debate.

Special negotiating body (SNB)

Standard rules under the fallback procedure

Misuse of procedures and structural change

L. Fulton (2008) Anchoring the European Company in National Law - Country Overviews (online publication, prepared for