ever as a global society were we as formed as we are now, and yet we continue to hear about (and to live) daily attacks on the basic rights of workers. What is going on? Are there really any rights? How can we be more informed? Who to turn to for help?

What is going on?

The purpose of teaching is to prepare generations of professionals for the challenges in the field they choose to pursue their career. For years, we have not seen the topic of workers' rights and responsibilities being explored, which is vital knowledge from the moment a work contract is signed.

The problem starts here: the professional preparation of an individual focuses exclusively on technical skills. We take for granted the knowledge of the existence of a Portuguese Labour Code, its purpose and content, as well as its frequent consultation. Ultimately, it is no one's responsibility to create visibility and education about the Portuguese Labour Code.

The lack of literacy in what comes to rights and responsibilities increases the risk of creating "rules" that violate the law, as the worker cannot identify whether they are valid and fears that not abide by them will result in job loss.

Are there really any rights?

The right to rest (days off and vacations), to have paid summer holidays and paid Christmas holidays, to get sick, to use parental leave, to annual training hours, to report breaches of the law that we are aware of. These examples are basic rights of any worker in Portugal, regardless of their role, seniority, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity.

What is written and signed in an employment contract does not prevail over the law.

Did you sign a contract that says you're not entitled to vacation? Talk to your employer about Article 237.º of the Portuguese Labour Code. Does your contract say that there is no limit to your weekly working hours? Explore Article 203.º.

How can we be more informed?

The acquisition of knowledge should not depend solely on secondary/higher education. It is up to each household and each individual to look for ways to understand by which rules the society in which they live is guided.

Fortunately, the Portuguese Labour Code is available to everyone, just a click away, on the website of Diário da República.

Who to turn to for help?

When, in doubt, you are unsure about a specific situation, you can contact the ACT (the Portuguese Authority for Working Conditions), explain your situation, and ask for support in resolving it. Many of the answers you are looking for can be found online, at the ACT/Portuguese Labour Code page, or in other media that seek to make legal information more accessible, such as Ekonomista and Trabalhador.pt.