Ministério Público e os Trabalhadores
The Public
Prosecution Service
and employees

transptranspThe Public Prosecution Service has a wide range of powers in order to facilitate and ensure people’s access to law and justice.

It is within this context that it is incumbent upon the Public Prosecution Service to protect the social rights of employees and their families.

this area, the Public Prosecution Service provides an employee assistance service that employees and their families can use for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or guidance with a view to getting any doubt duly clarified. Should court action be necessary, the Public Prosecution Service may offer legal support. It provides free (the recipients do not pay for the cost),general (for all, regardless of their financial situation and nationality) legal support which is subsidiary to other types of legal representation such as the one usually provided by trade unions to their members. Employees and their family members can also opt to instruct a lawyer privately.

The Public Prosecution Service will normally try to reach a settlement with the employer or the insurance company.

If conciliation is not possible, the Public Prosecution Service shall pursue legal action.

The employee has to provide timely information about his/her situation and his/her doubts to the Public Prosecution Service so that it might exercise its functions efficiently and successfully. Thus, as soon as the employee considers that his/her rights have been violated or as soon as he/she has legal doubts about his concrete job situation, he/she shall contact the Public Prosecution Service in order to enable the gathering of soundly based pieces of evidence in a timely manner, which in turn are necessary to enable him/her to claim his/her rights.

It is important for you to know that:

  • The time limit for employees’ claims arising from employment contract, claims for breach of contract or claims arising out of the termination of the contract expires within one year of the day following the date when the contract of employment was terminated;
  • The employee having been notified in writing of the decision to dismiss him/her for reasons attributable to him/her, for failure to adapt to change or for grounds of redundancy, he/she must file the claim to review the lawfulness of individual dismissal for those reasons within 60 days of the date indicated as the contract termination date;
  • The claim against collective dismissal must be lodged within 6 months of the dismissal;
  • In a termination for just cause because of the employer’s culpable behaviour, the notice of termination of the contract of employment must be given in writing within thirty days after the employee became aware of the facts;
  • If the employment contract requires a notice period, the employee must receive at least 60 or 30 days advance written notice, if he/she has completed up to two years or more than two years’ service respectively; or, in the case of a fixed-term contract, the employee is entitled to at least 30 or 15 days advance written notice, if the contract is for up to 6 months;
  • In the case of dismissal arising from disciplinary action the employee must respond to the nota de culpa [statement of guilt ] within 10 days;
  • In the case of work-related accident or occupational disease, the right to take legal action to claim allowances expires within one year of the date the injured person has been formally informed of the hospital discharge or, if the death arises out of the accident within one year of the date of death; and the allowances laid down by judicial decision shall expire within five years of the date they fall due. This limitation period does not start to run until the beneficiary has been personally informed of the determination of allowances.

The Public Prosecution Service also offers legal representation to the Commercial Court officials by defending their claims in insolvency proceedings within the term referred to in the judgment declaring insolvency. The maximum time limit for submitting such claim is thirty days after the date on which the declaration of insolvency has become effective; or, if such claims occur afterwards, by defending such claims within six months of that final binding decision. Also in case of insolvency or if the companies’ recovery system through extrajudicial agreements is initiated, through the mediation of the Instituto de Apoio às Pequenas e Médias Empresas e ao Investimento (IAPMEI) [Institute for Support to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Investment], the employee can claim what is owed to him from the Wage Guarantee Fund of the Instituto da Segurança Social [Social Security Institute] within nine months of the termination of the contract.

For help and information about your labour rights, please contact:

  • The Public Prosecution Service branch offices in the Secções Centrais do Trabalho [Central Chambers of the Labour Court]
  • The services of the Autoridade para as Condições do Trabalho [Working Conditions Authority];
  • In the event of the employer’s insolvency, also the Public Prosecution Service branch office in the Commercial Court and/or the services of the Instituto da Segurança Social.


Did you know that each year the Public Prosecution Service takes legal action in about 20.000 work-related accident cases and in about other 4.000 labour cases?