accidents at work and occupational diseases

The right to redress damages arising from professional risks - accidents at work (terminology currently used also as to employees with public employment relationship) and occupational diseases is included in the right to social security established in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic.

The Labour Code as well as special regulation shall define the general scheme in this area based upon the public employer’s strict liability (regardless of guilt); only the occupational diseases are included in the social security scheme. Thus, social protection general scheme shall ensure occupational diseases protection but regarding accidents at work private employers are forced to conclude insurance contracts with insurance companies transferring to them the liability to redress damages.

Employees fulfilling public functions, irrespective of being framed in the social security general scheme - registered in social security institutions - or in the convergent social protection scheme are all covered by specific legislation, with exception of employees fulfilling functions in entities excluded from the scope of application of such legislation, that is to say, employees with public legal employment relationship who fulfil functions in the state corporate sector and regional and local administrations, for example, which are subject to the general scheme; in this case the respective employer entity shall conclude insurance contracts of accidents at work.

This special regime secures the right to the same benefits and adopts the same concepts, namely, regarding the accident characterization or non-characterization and to the occupational diseases classification. Nevertheless, it does not transfer liabilities to the insurance companies in contrast to the general scheme, except in duly justified situations and if it has more advantages and rights are safeguard in full as guaranteed by the special regime.

The scheme established in the specific legislation to which the general scheme is additionally applicable shall be based on this one and integrates its principles.

The protection and redress are materialized through the following benefits that, in this eventuality assume a compensatory nature:

  • Benefits in kind - of a medical, surgical, nursing, hospital, medicinal, thermal treatments, physiotherapy, prostheses and orthoses nature and other forms necessary and appropriate to the diagnosis or to the mental or physical health state recovery and the capacity for work or of gain of the injured/sick person and to his/her recovery for active life; transport and stay; integration in work post for the fulfilment of functions compatible with real incapacity situation; training; work post adaptation to the employee real needs and part-time work
  • Benefits in cash – compensation during the period of absences to the service; third person assistance allowance; indemnity, in capital or lifetime pension, in the case of permanent incapacity; housing re-adaptation allowance and high incapacity situation allowance also in the case of permanent incapacity; funeral expenses and death’s allowance as well as payment of pension to family members in the case of death of the injured/sick person.

Benefits are granted without the need for compliance with a waiting period, i.e. irrespective of a minimum period of time of fulfilment of functions.

The State Health Care System (ADSE in Portuguese) and other Public Administration health subsystems may not be applicable to healthcare resulting from accidents at work and occupational diseases, except in the case of the armed forces military staff.

The changeover to retirement of an employee under an accident at work or occupational disease process shall not entail loss of the right to benefits which are due to him/her.