Ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice, 21 April 2016

Duty to provide the employee with real work to do – Promotion – Moral damages

In the ruling under review, the Supreme Court of Justice took into account the fact that the employer had kept the employee without any real work to do over a period of five years and thus set compensation for moral damages at €50,000.00.

The Supreme Court deemed this level of compensation to be appropriate, in view of the employer's deeply humiliating and demeaning conduct and its consequences for the employee's lawful rights, with specific regard to his personal dignity and moral integrity.

A decision was also taken in this case whereby the procedure for promotion should respect the terms and conditions defined by the employer and be subject to a positive performance evaluation, above the average for all employees subject to the same evaluation criteria, encompassing the skills and aptitudes required in the new post, which must be consistently proved. However, despite the fact that the employer had not given the employee any real work to do, having kept him inactive in an office over a period of several years, no justifiable grounds were found to entitle the employee to be promoted to the category of Consultant, thus his right to receive lost remuneration through not having been promoted was not established.

Ruling of the Porto Court of Appeal, 2 May 2016 Lawful dismissal. Unlawfulness

In the above matter, the Porto Court of Appeal ruled that, even though an employee had shown a lack of zeal and diligence in her work, her behaviour could not have triggered a complete breakdown in trust with her employer.

With regard to the employee's conduct, the fact that she had not responded to a colleague's request for information and had been absent on the day on which she should have delivered the last instalment of the Autumn/Winter 2015 Collection, without providing any sort of explanation or grounds for not having produced the work she had been entrusted with, indicates that she lacked zeal and diligence in her work.

Notwithstanding, the Court of Appeal ruled that no material loss for the employer arising from the employee's behaviour had been proved, and that, therefore, there was not an obvious and sustained neglect to fulfil the tasks of the post with due diligence. No incident serious enough to trigger a breakdown in trust between the employer and the employee had occurred. The Court of Appeal, therefore, ruled that since there were no practical and immediate grounds to prevent the employment relationship from continuing, there were no grounds for lawful dismissal, and thus declared the said dismissal to be unlawful.

Ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice, 14 June 2016

Establishment of case-law – International road haulage – Special remuneration

In the ruling in question, the Supreme Court of Justice established case -law, whereby the amendments to the Labour Code which imposed a decrease in the amounts paid for overtime and suspended for a period of two years clause 40 and any amendments thereto of the Sectoral Collective Bargaining Agreement for the road haulage sector, published in the Labour and Employment Gazette no. 9, of 8 March 1980, do not apply to and do not produce a decrease in the monthly remuneration foreseen in Clause 74 (7) of the aforementioned Agreement, on the basis of the amounts paid for overtime.

The Supreme Court of Justice stated that the remuneration foreseen in this clause of the Agreement is tantamount to special remuneration and not a payment for overtime, does not depend on the actual performance of work, is owed by companies in the sector to their employees who agree to perform tasks in international road haulage and is not in any way connected to payments for any additional work perfo rmed outside normal working hours. Hence, the suspension foreseen in the amendments to the Labour Code does not produce effects on nor decrease the monthly amount paid as special remuneration, on the basis of the amounts paid for overtime.