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Social Security in Portugal: Introduction for Employers

By Bernardo Barbosa

Published on 18 April 2024

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Navigating the Portuguese Social Security system (Segurança Social) can be a complex task for employers. It's a critical aspect of hiring employees in Portugal, as it not only ensures compliance with legal requirements but also provides essential protection for the workers.

For employers, understanding the intricacies of this system is essential. This guide aims to demystify the process, outlining the responsibilities of employers, the steps for registering and contributing to the system, and the overall benefits it offers.

Whether you're a seasoned business owner or new to the entrepreneurial scene in Portugal, we'll provide you with the knowledge you need to navigate Social Security more confidently than ever!

Section 1: Understanding Segurança Social for Employers

First and foremost, we must understand what Segurança Social is and how it works for Portuguese employers.

The Fundamentals of Social Security for Employers

Social Security provides a safety net for employees and their families. As an employer, it's your legal obligation to register with Segurança Social and make regular contributions on behalf of your workers. These contributions fund a variety of benefits, including pensions, healthcare services, and unemployment benefits.

Registration and Login for Employers

Before you can start contributing to the Portuguese Social Security system, you must first get your Social Security Identification Number, or NISS for short. Luckily, you'll receive one automatically in case you decide to start a company in the country.
When a company registers in the commercial register, the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority communicates it automatically and free of charge to Segurança Social, which issues an NISS for the company.
Once registered, business owners can visit the Segurança Social website to manage contributions, view payment history, and access important documents.

Making Contributions

After registering, you'll need to log in regularly to report your employee's earnings and make monthly contributions. The contribution rate is determined by the government and varies depending on the industry and type of employment contract.

Contribution Process:

1. Log in to the Social Security portal using your credentials.

2. Enter the earnings for each employee for the contribution period.

3. Calculate the total contribution amount based on the current rates.

4. Make the payment through one of the approved methods, such as bank account transfer or direct debit.

Section 2: Navigating the Segurança Social Website for Employers

The Segurança Social website is an online portal designed to streamline the management of your contributions as an employer in Portugal. While it's common practice for your accountant to take care of this for you, it's still important to know what you're dealing with.

Accessing the Portal

To access the Segurança Social online services, you need to use the NISS that was provided to you upon your business registration. The portal is designed to be user-friendly, offering a dashboard that gives you a quick overview of your account status, pending actions, and recent activity.

To register on the Portal, simply go to the Segurança Social Direta website and follow the instructions. (It's in Portuguese, but Google Chrome will translate it into English if you need it to).

Steps to Access the Portal:

1. Go to the Segurança Social Direta website.

2. Click on the Entrepreneur/Employer login section.

3. Enter your User ID/NISS and password to log in.

4. Once logged in, familiarize yourself with the dashboard and available services.

Reporting Obligations

As an employer, you are required to report your workers' earnings, as well as any changes in their employment status, to the Segurança Social. This information is crucial for the calculation of members' contributions and benefits.

Reporting Process:

1. From the dashboard, select the option to report earnings.

2. Enter the required information for each employee, including salary and any other compensation.

3. Confirm the accuracy of the information and submit the report.

4. Keep a record of the submission confirmation for your files.

Managing Employee Information

The portal also allows you to manage all aspects of your employees' information related to Segurança Social. This includes registering new hires, terminating employment contracts, and updating personal details.

Management Process:

1. Navigate to the Employee Management section.

2. Select the appropriate action (e.g., register a new employee).

3. Fill in the necessary details and submit the changes.

4. Ensure that you receive confirmation for each transaction.

In cases of doubt, please refer to the Vídeo Atendimento (Video Call) service of Segurança Social for additional information.

Section 3: Understanding Employer Contributions to Social Security

From funding the local healthcare system to paying unemployment benefits to members, Segurança Social contributions are at the center of the Portuguese welfare state.

Contribution Rates and Calculations

Employer contributions to social security are calculated as a percentage of each employee's gross salary. The standard contribution rate for employers is generally around 23.75%, but this can vary depending on the industry and type of employment contract of the members.

On standard contributions, the employees also pay 11% of their gross salary, for a total combined amount of 34.75%.

Calculation Process:

1. Determine the gross salary for each employee.

2. Apply the appropriate contribution rate to calculate the total contribution amount.

3. Deduct the employee's portion (typically 11%) from their gross salary.

4. Pay the combined total of the employer's and employee's contributions to Segurança Social.

Payment Deadlines and Procedures

Timely payment of social security contributions is crucial to avoid penalties. Members must adhere to the monthly payment deadlines set by the Social Security services.

Payment Steps:

1. Calculate the total monthly contributions for all employees.

2. Access the payment section on the Segurança Social online portal.

3. Choose your preferred payment method.

4. Make the payment before the deadline, usually by the 20th of the following month.

5. Keep proof of payment for your records.

Annual Adjustments and Declarations

At the end of each fiscal year, employers must reconcile their accounts with Social Security. This involves submitting an annual declaration of earnings for each employee and adjusting any discrepancies in contributions.

Annual Reconciliation:

1. Review the total earnings reported for each employee throughout the year.

2. Compare the reported earnings with actual payments made.

3. Submit the annual declaration form through the Social Security online portal.

4. Make any necessary adjustments to correct discrepancies.

5. Confirm that the Social Security records match your own.

Our Portuguese tax calendar can help you make sure you don't miss out on any of your legal obligations in the country!

Section 4: Benefits and Services Covered by Employer Contributions

Employer contributions to Segurança Social fund a wide array of benefits that provide financial support and security to workers who have paid social security contributions.

Types of Benefits

Employer's Responsibility in Benefit Claims

Employers have a responsibility to provide necessary information and support to employees during the benefit claim process. This includes verifying employment details, providing salary information, and ensuring that contribution records are accurate.

Employer's Role in Claims:

1. Assist employees with information and documentation for benefit claims.

2. Verify the accuracy of employment and salary details submitted by employees.

3. Communicate with Segurança Social officials in case discrepancies arise.

4. Facilitate the submission of claims by providing access to the online portal at the workplace (if needed).

5. Encourage employees to stay informed about their rights and benefits.

Section 5: Compliance and Penalties for Non-Payment

Employers in Portugal must adhere to strict compliance regulations regarding Social Security contributions. Timely and accurate payments are not only a legal obligation but also essential for maintaining the integrity of the system and ensuring that workers can access their entitled benefits.

Key Compliance Aspects

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Conclusion: Navigating Segurança Social for Employers

As we have seen, employers play a pivotal role in the Segurança Social system, ensuring that contributions are accurately calculated in and timely submitted. This process safeguards employees' access to essential benefits in life, from healthcare and family allowances to unemployment support and retirement pensions.

But while the intricacies of Social Security in Portugal may seem daunting, the system is designed to support BOTH employers and employees! By leveraging the available resources and services, you can ensure a compliant and supportive work environment, adding to your reputation as a professional and caring employer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How much does an employer in Portugal pay for Social Security?

Employers in Portugal are typically required to contribute 23.75% of their employee's gross salary to Segurança Social, while the employees pay 11% of their gross salary. This rate is standard for most industries, but it can vary depending on the sector and specific circumstances of employment.

2. Who needs to pay Social Security in Portugal?

Both employers and employees are required to pay Social Security in Portugal - and both Portuguese and foreign citizens. Employers make contributions on behalf of their employees, and self-employed individuals must also make contributions based on their earnings. Self employed workers also need to pay social security.

3. How does Social Security work in Portugal?

Social security in Portugal works by collecting contributions from both employers and employees, which fund a range of benefits including healthcare, pensions, unemployment insurance, and family allowances. Anyone can request a social security identification number to access these services and obligations, which in turn will enable them to claim benefits from the social security authority

4. How much is Social Security charged in Portugal?

Employees contribute 11% of their gross salary to social security, while employers contribute 23.75%. The total contribution to the Social Security system is therefore 34.75% of the gross salary.

5. What are the employee costs in Portugal?

Employee costs in Portugal include a mandatory 11% Social Security contribution from their gross salary. Other costs can include income taxes and any additional benefits or insurance provided by the employer, which vary by individual employment contracts.

6. Does Portugal tax expats on Social Security?

Expats and foreign citizens working in Portugal are subject to the same Segurança Social contributions as Portuguese citizens. However, the tax liability on Social Security benefits, like pensions received from abroad, may depend on the existence of tax treaties between Portugal and the expats' home country, mainly designed to avoid double taxation. For more information, consult with your local Social Security office.

7. Can foreign companies register for Social Security in Portugal?

Foreign companies operating in Portugal with local employees must register for Social Security with an NISS and make the necessary contributions for their employees.

8. What happens if I don't pay Social Security for my employees?

Failing to pay Social Security for employees can result in penalties, including fines and interest on late payments. It can also lead to legal action and damage to the company's reputation.

9. Is there any exemption to Social Security contributions in Portugal?

Certain groups may be exempt from making Social Security contributions, such as those who already receive a pension.

10. How do I register my business with Social Security?

To register a business with Social Security, you can use the Segurança Social Direta online platform or visit a local Social Security office. You will need to provide your business details, taxpayer number, and information about your employees.

11.How does annual income impact eligibility for social support and further education grants under Portugal's Social Support Index?

In Portugal, the Social Support Index is used to determine eligibility for various social support benefits, including grants for further education. Your annual income is a key factor in this assessment, as it helps establish whether you qualify for support based on the financial thresholds set within the Index.

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Written by Bernardo Barbosa

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