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Hours of Work in Portugal

Maximum Working Hours & Overtime Laws in Portugal

Standard hours in Portugal

Monday to Friday, typically 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a one-hour lunch break, or 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with a two-hour lunch break.


Eight hours a day, for a total of 40 hours weekly.

Employers can put in place special flexible working schemes and may extend the work hour limitations to 12 hours daily and 60 hours weekly for a short period. Cases that permit that are:

  • adaptability regime, in which the standard working period is defined on an average basis 
  • the bank of hours regime, in which the employee can 'bank' time 
  • the concentrated working period regime, in which the working period is concentrated in 3-4 days per week

Whatever the regime of operation, the average working time cannot exceed 48 hours (including overtime) per week. 

Pregnant employees, as well as employees with children under the age of 12 months, are not obliged to work overtime. Female employees are not obliged to work overtime during the entire breastfeeding period if it is necessary for their health or that of the child.


Employees may opt-out of working-time upper limits and choose to be paid extra instead. Employees in management roles have the option of waiving the right to receive an additional wage.

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Overtime compensation

Overtime can only be provided when the company has to cope with a possible and transitory increase in work, and the admission of a worker is not justified overtime may also be provided in case of force majeure or when it is indispensable to prevent or repair severe damage to the company or its viability.

Employees must do overtime work if requested unless they ask to be exempted for extenuating reasons.

Employees working over the maximum hours daily or weekly must receive the following overtime compensation:

  • Hourly rate plus 25% for the first hour 
  • Hourly rate plus 37.5% for any additional hours 
  • Hourly rate plus 50% for any overtime hour on rest days 
Employees can opt-out of overtime compensation and must do so in writing. 

Overtime should not exceed two hours daily (for a maximum of 48 weekly) or 150 hours yearly for employees at companies with 50+ employees and 175 hours for companies with fewer than 50 employees. The limit per year increases to 200 annually if within a collective labour agreement or for force majeure reasons.

Break rights

Employees are entitled rest periods of at least one hour and cannot work longer than five consecutive hours. EThey are also entitled to at least 11 consecutive hours of daily rest and at least 24 hours of uninterrupted weekly rest.

Night workers

An employee is considered a night worker when they work at least three hours of their typical shift between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. the next day. The maximum night work shift is 8 hours.

The remuneration for night shift work is 25% higher than the daytime shift. It may be offset by collective regulation, by an equivalent reduction in the standard working period, or by a fixed increase in basic remuneration, provided that this does not represent a less favourable form of treatment for the employee.

A female worker has the right to be exempted from working between 8 p.m. of one day and 7 a.m. of the following day during:

  •  a period of 112 days before and after childbirth, 
  • the entire period of breastfeeding

Employees with family responsibilities

Employees with a child under the age of 12 or, irrespective of age, a child with a disability or chronic illness who lives in the same household have a right to:

  • Part-time work (2 years). In the case of a third child or more - 3 years; a child with a disability or chronic illness - 4 years.
  • Work in a flexible working regime. 

Employee Time Tracking Obligations in Portugal

Employers must keep records of employee working time, even for employees exempt from working hours. They can track it either automatically or manually and should store the records in an accessible place to allow immediate consultation. This will enable labour authorities to check the work performed, per employee, per day.

On May 14 2019, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) created a law that requires employers in every EU member country to set up an objective, reliable and accessible system to time track employees' working hours. The implementation of such systems and the form they take is up to the member states to determine. The objective is to control how many employees work overtime and the state of their health, and to make sure they are paid accordingly, while not exceeding the maximum hours worked. 

The employer may leave time-tracking to the employee. However, if an employer notices that this does not work, they must intervene.


Violation of this provision may constitute a grave offence.

As for the new ECJ ruling, it remains to be seen whether further and stricter sanctions will be imposed in the future if employers do not introduce a working time recording system.

Concerned about violating your time tracking obligation in Portugal?

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