Act no. 28/2016, of 23 August, amends the Portuguese Labour Code and the legal regimes for the promotion of health and safety at work and for the exercise and licensing of private employment agencies and employment businesses, in order to significantly extend the civil liability of companies – and of their respective managers and directors – for employment claims, social security costs and fines.

This statute claims to tackle “the modern forms of forced labour” in order to justify the following measures:

(i) Vicarious liability of companies using temporary workers, as well as of their respective managers or directors, and also of related companies (within cross ownership, control or group structures), in respect of employment claims, social security costs and fines;

(ii) Joint and several liability of companies using temporary workers, as well as of their respective managers or directors, and also of related companies (within cross ownership, control or group structures), in respect of employment claims regarding Social Security and Work Related Accidents and fines.

(iii) Joint and several liability of the contractor and owner of the construction, undertaking or agricultural company, as well as of their respective managers or directors, and also of related companies (within cross ownership, control or group structures), in respect of compliance with legislative provisions and for breaches by the subcontractor performing the contract in full or in part in the premises or under the responsibility of the former, as well as in respect of the payment of relevant fines; and

(iv) Joint and several liability of the contractor and owner of the construction, undertaking or agricultural company and of the company using or awarded the construction or service, including their respective managers or directors, as well as of related companies (within cross ownership, control or group structures), for breaches of legislative provisions concerning health and safety at work of temporary workers, assigned on a casual basis or in the service of work-for-hire companies, whilst performing their duties in the premises of the former, as well as for the payment of relevant fines.

As a brief note, it should be clarified that: in the case of vicarious liability, such can only be claimed if the person who has primary liability cannot meet the liability obligations; whereas in the case of joint and several liability, satisfaction can be claimed from any of those liable regardless of the means of the others liable or even of the person who has primary liability.

It is our understanding that these changes should be given consideration when deciding whether to resort to temporary workers or subcontractors, since user companies may be confronted with unexpected – and largely undetermined – costs.

Similarly, a review of the current contractual relationships is advisable in order to reduce the risk of civil liability “contamination”, especially so after the passage of this amending Act in the summer season.

The amendment will come into force on September 22, 2016.

Abolition of the unemployed person’s duty to appear periodically

Act no. 34/2016, of 24 August, abolished the duty to report to the Job Centre every 15 days, replacing it with personalised follow-up measures that will come into force on 1 October 2016.