Social security provisions in the Constitution of Portugal

Country: Portugal
Year: 2005

Relevant articles:

  • Article 8 – International Law

1. The rules and principles of general or common international law shall form an integral part of Portuguese law.

2. The rules set out in duly ratified or passed international agreements shall come into force in Portuguese internal law once they have been officially published, and shall remain so for as long as they are internationally binding on the Portuguese state.

3. Rules issued by the competent bodies of international organisations to which Portugal belongs shall come directly into force in Portuguese internal law, on condition that this is laid down in the respective constituent treaties.

4. The provisions of the treaties that govern the European Union and the rules issued by its institutions in the exercise of their respective responsibilities shall apply in Portuguese internal law in accordance with Union law and with respect for the fundamental principles of a democratic state based on the rule of law.

  • Article 9 – Fundamental  Tasks of the State

The fundamental  tasks of the State shall be :

1. d) To promote the people’s well-being and quality of life and real equality between the Portuguese, as well as the effective implementation of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights by means of the transformation and modernisation of economic and social structures;

  • Article 59 – Rights of Workers

1. Regardless of age, sex, race, citizenship, place of origin, religion and political and ideological convictions, every worker shall possess the right:

a) To the remuneration of his work in accordance with its volume, nature and quality, with respect for the principle of equal pay for equal work and in such a way as to guarantee a proper living;

b) That work be organised in keeping with social dignity and in such a way as to provide personal fulfilment and to make it possible to reconcile professional and family life;

c) To work in conditions that are hygienic, safe and healthy;

d) To rest and leisure time, a maximum limit on the working day, a weekly rest period and periodic paid holidays;

e) To material assistance when he involuntarily finds himself unemployed;

f) To assistance and fair reparation when he is the victim of a work-related accident or occupational illness.

Chapter II Social Rights and Duties

  • Article 63 – Social Security and solidarity

1. Everyone shall have the right to social security.

2. The state shall be charged with organising, coordinating and subsidising a unified and decentralised social security system, with the participation of the trade unions, other organisations that represent workers and associations that represent any other beneficiaries.

3. The social security system shall protect citizens in illness and old age and when they are disabled, widowed or orphaned, as well as when they are unemployed or in any other situation that entails a lack of or reduction in means of subsistence or ability to work.

4. All periods of work shall, as laid down by law, contribute to the calculation of old age and disability pensions, regardless of the sector of activity in which they were performed.

5. With a view to the pursuit of the social solidarity objectives that are particularly enshrined in this Article and in Articles 67(2)b, 69, 70(1)e, 71 and 72, the state shall, as laid down by law, support and inspect the activities and operation of private charitable institutions and other non-profit institutions that are recognised to be in the public interest.

  • Article 64 – Health

1. Everyone shall possess the right to health protection and the duty to defend and promote health.

2. The right to health protection shall be fulfilled:

a) By means of a national health service that shall be universal and general and, with particular regard to the economic and social conditions of the citizens who use it, shall tend to be free of charge;

b) By creating economic, social, cultural and environmental conditions that particularly guarantee the protection of childhood, youth and old age; by systematically improving living and working conditions and also promoting physical fitness and sport at school and among the people; and by developing both the people’s health and hygiene education and healthy living practises.

3. In order to ensure enjoyment of the right to the protection of health, the state shall be under a primary duty:

a) To guarantee access by every citizen, regardless of his economic situation, to preventive, curative and rehabilitative medical care;

b) To guarantee a rational and efficient nationwide coverage in terms of healthcare units and human resources;

c) To work towards the public funding of the costs of medical care and medicines;

d) To regulate and inspect corporate and private forms of medicine and articulate them with the national health service, in such a way as to ensure adequate standards of efficiency and quality in both public and private healthcare institutions;

e) To regulate and control the production, distribution, marketing, sale and use of chemical, biological and pharmaceutical products and other means of treatment and diagnosis;

f) To establish policies for the prevention and treatment of drug abuse.

4. The National Health Service shall possess a decentralised and participatory management system.

  • Article 67 – Family

1. As a fundamental element in society, the family shall possess the right to protection by society and the state and to the effective implementation of all the conditions needed to enable family members to achieve personal fulfilment.

2. In order to protect the family, the state shall particularly be charged with:

a) Promoting the social and economic independence of family units;

b) Promoting the creation of, and guaranteeing access to, a national network of crèches and other social facilities designed to support the family, together with a policy for the elderly;

c) Cooperating with parents in relation to their children’s education;

d) With respect for individual freedom, guaranteeing the right to family planning by promoting the information and access to the methods and means required therefore, and organising such legal and technical arrangements as are needed for motherhood and fatherhood to be consciously planned;

e) Regulating assisted conception in such a way as to safeguard the dignity of the human person;

f) Regulating taxes and social benefits in line with family costs;

g) After first consulting the associations that represent the family, drawing up and implementing a global and integrated family policy;

h) By concerting the various sectorial policies, promoting the reconciliation of professional and family life.

  • Article 68 – Fatherhood and Motherhood

1. In performing their irreplaceable role in relation to their children, particularly as regards the children’s education, fathers and mothers shall possess the right to protection by society and the state, together with the guarantee of their own professional fulfilment and participation in civic life.

2. Motherhood and fatherhood shall constitute eminent social values.

3. Women shall possess the right to special protection during pregnancy and following childbirth, and female workers shall also possess the right to an adequate period of leave from work without loss of remuneration or any privileges.

4. The law shall regulate the grant to mothers and fathers of an adequate period of leave from work, in accordance with the interests of the child and the needs of the family unit.

  • Article 69 – Childhood

1. With a view to their integral development, children shall possess the right to protection by society and the state, especially from all forms of abandonment, discrimination and oppression and from the abusive exercise of authority in the family or any other institution.

2. The state shall ensure special protection for children who are orphaned, abandoned or deprived of a normal family environment in any way.

3. Labour by minors of school age shall be prohibited as laid down by law.

  • Article 70 – Youth

1. In order to ensure the effective enjoyment of their economic, social and cultural rights, young people shall receive special protection, particularly:

a) In education, vocational training and culture;

b) In access to their first job, at work and in relation to social security;

c) In access to housing;

d) In physical education and sport;

e) In the use of their free time.

2. The priority objectives of the youth policy shall be the development of young people’s personality, the creation of the conditions needed for their effective integration into the active life, a love of free creativity and a sense of community service.

3. Acting in cooperation with families, schools, businesses, residents’ organisations, cultural associations and foundations and cultural and recreational groups, the state shall foster and support youth organisations in the pursuit of the said objectives, as well as international youth exchanges.

  • Article 71 – Disabled Citizens

1. Citizens with physical or mental disabilities shall fully enjoy the rights and shall be subject to the duties enshrined in this Constitution, save the exercise or fulfilment of those for which their condition renders them unfit.

2. The state shall undertake a national policy for the prevention of disability and the treatment, rehabilitation and integration of disabled citizens and the provision of support to their families, shall educate society and make it aware of the duties of respect and solidarity towards such citizens, and shall ensure that they effectively enjoy their rights, without prejudice to the rights and duties of their parents or guardians.

3. The state shall support disabled citizens’ organisations.

  • Article 72 – The elderly

1. The elderly shall possess the right to economic security and to conditions in terms of housing and family and community life that respect their personal autonomy and avoid and overcome isolation or social marginalisation.

2. The policy for the elderly shall include measures of an economic, social and cultural nature that tend to provide elderly people with opportunities for personal fulfilment by means of an active participation in community life.

  • Article 81 – Primary Duties of the State

1. In the economic and social field the state shall be under a primary duty:
a) Within the overall framework of a sustainable development strategy, to promote an increase in people’s social and economic well-being and quality of life, especially those of the most disadvantaged persons;

b) To promote social justice, ensure equal opportunity and carry out the necessary corrections to inequalities in the distribution of wealth and income, particularly by means of the fiscal policy;

Link to compendium “The right to Social Security in European Constitutions: Compendium of provisions of European Constitutions related to the right to social security”

Link to Portuguese constitution (English and Portuguese)

Social Protection and Human Rights