Childbirth and parental rights

By Dr. Eduardo Serra Jorge [email protected]

In his new monthly column, Lawyer Eduardo Serra Jorge from lawyers firm Eduardo Serra Jorge & Maria José Garcia – Sociedade de Advogados, R.L., will be addressing legal issues affecting foreign residents in Portugal.

During the last few years, one of the main goals of the Portuguese legislators has been to improve the rights of those workers who already are parents or are parents-to-be, with some special focus on the father’s rights.

Therefore, the Portuguese Labour Code has several rules to be applied just before the child is born.

Prenatal assistance

Pregnant women have the right to take time off work when necessary (there is no limit, so long as it is necessary) to attend pre-natal medical examinations and also preparation for the birth.

If the pre-natal appointment is during work time, the employer can ask the worker for a document that proves the reasons why it wasn’t possible to attend the appointment after working hours.

The father is also allowed to ask for a maximum of three absences from work to assist the mother-to-be at pre-natal appointments.

If there is clinical risk for the pregnant worker or for her baby and the employer is not able to provide her the conditions appropriate to her medical needs, the worker has the right to have leave for the period of time suggested by her doctor.

After the child is born

Parental leave can be divided into four different types – the initial parental leave, the mother’s exclusive initial parental leave, the father’s exclusive initial parental leave and the initial parental leave to be taken by one of the parents if it is impossible for the other.

Pay for this period of time is through Social Security, in order to avoid a loss of remuneration during these important first days of a child’s life.

The initial parental leave

Both the mother and the father have the right to initial leave of 120 or 150 consecutive days. The parents can share that period between them but there is always a mandatory leave to be enjoyed by the mother.

The referred period of time can be increased by 30 days as long as each of the parents has 30 exclusive and consecutive days of leave, or two periods of 15 days.

Nevertheless, during the first six weeks after the child is born leave is mandatory for the mother.

If the parents decide to share the leave period, they have to inform their employers by the 7th day after the birth, by indicating the periods that each one intends to take.

The mother’s exclusive initial parental leave

For the mother it is always mandatory that she has the initial six weeks after the birth as leave.

However, the pregnant worker can enjoy 30 days of her initial parental leave before the baby is born, and then those days will be discounted from the leave she has after the birth.

So, if the pregnant worker wants to have those leave days, she has to inform her employer by giving 10 days’ notice and providing a medical declaration that estimates the approximate date of the birth.

The father’s exclusive initial parental leave

It is mandatory for the father to enjoy an exclusive initial parental leave of 10 consecutive or intermittent working days during the 30 days after the child is born, but five of those days have to be taken consecutively after the birth.

The father is also entitled to 10 further consecutive or intermittent working days along with the mother during her initial parental leave.

The initial parental leave conceded due to the impossibility of one of the parents Both the mother and the father have the right to leave of 120, 150 or 180 days, if the parent on leave begins to suffer from any physical or psychological disorder or if he or she dies.

If the mother becomes physically or psychologically unable or dies, the father will have an initial parental leave of 30 days.

Please note that the mentioned leaves are also applicable if you decide to adopt a child, and there are some specialities in the case of delivering twins and even if a woman decides to have an abortion.

Dr Eduardo Serra Jorge is founding member, senior partner and CEO of lawyers firm Eduardo Serra Jorge & Maria José Garcia – Sociedade de Advogados, R.L., created in 1987. He can be contacted at his Faro office at Gaveto das Ruas Pedro Nunes e José de Matos, 5 R/C, on telephone +351 289 829 326, Fax. +351 289 829 327 or email [email protected] Alternatively, please visit