Having a child: Parental leave and absence from work

Pregnant employees

If you work as an employee, you must inform your employer that you are pregnant. This notification must be in writing and backed by a medical certificate or by the presentation of the pregnant woman’s health record.

The employee may be exempted from night work, overtime, time accrual schemes, compressed hours and flexible working arrangements. If the pregnancy is high-risk, or if the work poses a risk to the mother and the unborn child, the employee may be entitled to leave for high-risk pregnancy or owing to specific risks.

Find out more about the rights and obligations of pregnant employees.

Protection in the event of dismissal or non-renewal of contract

The law protects pregnant employees, who may only be dismissed upon a favourable opinion from the Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment [Comissão para a Igualdade no Trabalho e no Emprego] or by a court decision. If the employee’s contract is not renewed, the employer must inform the Commission and may need to explain the reason for the non-renewal.

Breastfeeding and returning to work

After parental leave ends, a baby still needs the parents’ dedicated care. For as long as their baby is breastfed, mothers are therefore entitled to:

  • time away from work twice a day, for a maximum of one hour each time, for breastfeeding (unless a different schedule has been agreed with the employer);
  • an additional 30 minutes’ time away from work per baby if there is more than one baby to breastfeed.

If the baby is not breastfed, parents are entitled to:

  • daily time away from work for feeding (equivalent to time away from work for breastfeeding) until the child reaches the age of one.

Parents must notify their employer of this absence 10 days before it starts. If the mother continues to breastfeed after the child’s first year, a medical certificate must be supplied to continue to benefit from the time away from work.

Breastfeeding mothers are exempt from working under the following conditions:

  • night work
  • overtime
  • time accrual schemes
  • compressed hours
  • flexible working schemes.

Leave to care for a sick or injured child

Parents can take time off work to care for a sick or injured child under the age of 12. The time off work may total up to 30 days per year, or an entire period of hospitalisation. The same period of absence is permitted for parents of children with a disability or chronic illness, regardless of the child’s age.

Parents may be absent from work for up to 15 days per year in the event of illness or accidents involving children over the age of 12. The employer may request justification for the absence.

Other rights for parents with children:

  • aged under 12
    • normal working hours may be reduced by half, in the case of either or both parents, in successive periods;
    • flexible working hours, which can be taken by either or both parents;
    • absence for up to four hours to go to the child’s school once per quarter;
  • aged under 3
    • remote working, where this is compatible with their professional duties, and the employer has the resources and means to enable it;
  • aged under 1
    • exemption from working supplementary hours (overtime).

To benefit from these rights, employees must send a written request to the employer 30 days in advance. The employer has 20 days to notify its decision. If it does not do so, the request will be deemed accepted.

Find out more about how to apply for the childcare allowance.

Working grandparents

If the grandparents are the child’s legal carers, they can take time off work to care for them if they are ill or are involved in an accident, if the grandchild is a minor. If the grandchild suffers from a chronic illness or disability, this time off may be taken regardless of the child’s age. Pay is covered at 65%.

Find out about the rights of working grandparents.

Rights of parents of children with disabilities or chronic illness

Parents of children and young people with a disability or chronic illness benefit have a number of rights that enable them to care for their children:

  • aged under 1
    • a five-hour reduction in the normal working week
    • the option of flexible working hours or part-time working
  • Regardless of the child’s age
    • leave of up to 6 months, which may be extended to up to 4 years, for childcare purposes.

Parents of children with a disability, chronic illness or oncological disease have the right to work remotely where feasible. A mother or father who wishes to work remotely must live in the same house as their child.

Find out about support available for parents with children with disabilities on the Social Security Portal.

Leave for adoption and foster care procedures

Parents in the process of adoption and/or foster care procedures are entitled to time off work to go to the Social Security services or to meet with Social Security experts to assess potential adopters.

This time off work is treated as provision of labour for employment purposes, and there is no limit to the number of times it can be taken.

Information updated on March 15, 2024

Information updated on March 15, 2024