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Prevention of harassment

Meet The Law

Law no. 73/2017, of August 16th, reinforces the legal framework that governs harassment at work within the private and public sector, through the amendments carried out to the Portuguese Labour Code, Labour Procedure Code and to the General Labour Law in Public Functions.

Labour Code:

  • Harassment is now expressly prohibited by law;
  • The victim of harassment has the right to compensation;
  • The practice of harassment is considered a very serious administrative offence, notwithstanding potential criminal liability that may also arise for the harasser;
  • The harassment complainant and the summoned witnesses may not be sanctioned through disciplinary action - unless the claim was brought with intent, on the basis of statements or facts produced at the legal or administrative proceedings as triggered by a harassment claim -, until the final decision is issued by the court with the force of res judicata, without prejudice to their adversarial right (right of reply);
  • The employer must adopt codes of conduct aimed at preventing and combating harassment at work, whenever the organization has 7 employees or more;
  • The employer must initiate disciplinary proceedings whenever he becomes aware of alleged harassment situations;
  • Failure to adopt the codes of conduct or to initiate disciplinary proceedings constitutes a very serious administrative offence;
  • Liability for damages arising from occupational diseases as a result of harassment falls upon the employer;
  • Responsibility for payment of the above mentioned damages lies with the Portuguese Social security, in accordance with the law, which becomes subrogated in the rights of the employee, to the extent of the payments made, plus interests;
  • Dismissal or any other sanction that is imposed for the purpose of punishing an alleged infraction, within a year after the complaint or other form of exercise of equal rights, non-discrimination and harassment, is presumed to be abusive;
  • An employee is entitled to unilaterally terminate the employment contract based on just cause whenever he is subject to legally punishable attacks on his moral or physical integrity, freedom, honour or dignity, and also following a complaint to the Labour Authorities arising from the employer's or its representative harassment;
  • Publicizing ancillary penalty of may not be waived in case of harassment.

General Labour Law in Public Functions:

  • The Labour Code provisions that govern harassment are also applicable to public sector employment;
  • Public employer must also adopt codes of conduct aimed at preventing and combating harassment at work and initiate disciplinary proceedings whenever he becomes aware of alleged harassment situations.

Labour Procedure Code:

  • Witnesses in court cases where the cause of action is harassment are notified by the court.

The following was also established by virtue of this law:

  • The Labour Authorities and the General Inspection for Finances shall set up specific e-mail addresses for the purpose of receiving claims on harassment at work within the private and public sectors, respectively, and provide information on their websites regarding the identification and prevention measures to combat and deal with harassment situations;
  • The General Inspection for Finances shall include in its annual report the statistical data of the activities carried out on harassment prevention under this law;
  • The Government shall define this law's enforcement effectiveness, subject of self-regulation, until the 16th August, particularly in what regards to the prevention of harassment when it relates to occupational diseases.

This law takes effect on October 1st, 2017. 

Authors

Susana Afonso
Susana Afonso
Partner
Lisbon