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Parental Leave Law in Portugal Amended

A family sits on the steps of their home.

In 2020, a law in Portugal pertaining to paid parental leave will change, thanks to an amendment passed in September. Paternity leave will be longer, and leave for parents of children with cancer and prematurely born infants will be available.

Law 90/2019 aims to enhance and clarify Portugal's pre-existing robust parental-leave policies. "We already had a system of protection on parenthood that was very, very strict," said Inês Fialho, an attorney with Garrigues in Lisbon, Portugal. "We have several situations of authorized absences, including in case of abortion, in case of clinical risk in a pregnancy, parental leave, adoption leave and situations of the authorized absences for prenatal consultation."

The amendments have been discussed for the last two years, Fialho said.

Length of Paternity Leave Extended

Compulsory paternity leave has been extended from 15 to 20 workdays. As Mercer elaborates, "Fathers must take paternity leave within six weeks of the child's birth and use at least five days' leave immediately after the birth."

This adjustment would have benefited Alberto Ferreira had it been in place when his son was born. A business consultant based in Porto, Ferreira was required to take five mandatory days of leave immediately after the birth of his son, followed by 10 days at another time. Now, that total leave would be expanded to 20 days.

Parents of Children with Cancer Covered

Specific provisions pertaining to caring for children with cancer are completely new additions to the leave law. While there were guidelines in the case of chronic disease and hospitalization, this is the first time oncological cases have been addressed directly. "[This leave] can be extended up to four years," Fialho said.

Other Provisions

The granting of additional parental leave in cases of prematurely born infants is also significant, Fialho said.

Mercer explains, "Parents of a hospitalized newborn can take up to 30 days' leave and up to 30 additional days' leave for a premature (33 weeks' gestation or less) baby."

Further provisions in the amendment address the ability of employers to fire workers who are pregnant, have recently given birth, are lactating or are on parental leave, if the reason for the termination is nondiscriminatory. The nondiscriminatory reason for firing the worker must be communicated to a commission of protection on parental matters in Portugal within five workdays from the date of the termination notice, Fialho noted.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Introduction to the Global Human Resources Discipline]

Law 93/2019, also enacted in September, deals with how the social security system in Portugal will pay for the extended and new leaves.

Taking Advantage of New and Extended Leaves

Clarifying these leaves is important, as it allows workers like Ferreira to fully enjoy the extent of parental leave. Even taking the leave he was allowed under the old law, Ferreira initially felt guilty about being away from work. Once he accepted that he couldn't work during his leave, he was able to relax and enjoy the routine with his infant son.

His wife would arrive home at 4:30 p.m. to feed the baby. Afterward, "we would have lunch and go out because it was still hot. And many days, we went for a walk in the park with the baby. I miss it already."

Katie Nadworny is a freelance writer in Istanbul. 


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