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Home > Introduction to Social Security for Employers in Portugal

Introduction to Social Security for Employers in Portugal

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Published at 2 November 2023

Navigating the Social Security system in Portugal can be a complex task for employers. It’s a critical aspect of hiring employees, as it not only ensures compliance with legal requirements but also provides essential protection for employees. Social Security in Portugal encompasses a range of contributions and benefits, designed to support workers in times of need, such as in cases of illness, unemployment, or retirement.

For employers, understanding the intricacies of the 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 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 in Portugal confidently and ensure your business and employees are adequately covered.

Section 1: Understanding Social Security in Portugal

The Fundamentals of Social Security for Employers

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

Registration and Login for Employers

Before you can start contributing to the Social Security system, you must first get your company Social Security Number, or NISS. but when you set up your company, you’ll receive one automatically.

When companies register in the commercial register, the Tax and Customs Authority (AT) communicates it automatically and free of charge to the Social Security authority, and a NISS is assigned to the company.

Once registered, you’ll need to access the Social Security online portal (see Section 2), where you can 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.

Please note: It is common practice that your Portuguese Accountant will do this for you, which we strongly recommend to ensure that no errors are made. Nonetheless, we’ll outline the process for you in case you wish to do it yourself.

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 transfer or direct debit.

Compliance and Penalties

Compliance with Social Security regulations is not optional. Failure to register, report earnings accurately, or make timely contributions can result in significant penalties, including fines and legal action. It’s crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest rates and reporting requirements to avoid these penalties.

Section 2: Navigating the Social Security Portal for Employers

The Social Security online portal is a comprehensive tool designed to streamline the management of your contributions as an employer in Portugal. As we mentioned previously, it’s common practice in Portugal for your accountant to take care of this for you, however it can be useful to understand how to navigate this portal efficiently.

Accessing the Portal

To access the Social Security online services, you need to use your NISS that was provided 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 Social Security direct website (Segurança Social Direta) 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:

2. Click on the Entrepreneur/Employer login section.

3. Enter your User ID 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 employees earnings and any changes in their employment status. This information is crucial for the calculation of 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 compensations.

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 Social Security. 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.

Assistance and Support

If you encounter any issues or have questions, the Social Security portal provides resources and support. You can access guides, FAQs, and contact information for direct assistance.

Getting Help:

1. Click on the ‘Help’ or ‘Support’ section of the portal.

2. Browse through the available resources or use the search function to find specific information.

3. If needed, contact the support team via the provided contact methods.

Section 3: Understanding Employer Contributions to Social Security

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.

On standard contributions, the employee also pays 11% from their gross salary, making 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 Social Security.

Payment Deadlines and Procedures

Timely payment of social security contributions is crucial to avoid penalties. Employers 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 Social Security online portal.

3. Choose your preferred payment method (e.g., direct debit, bank transfer).

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.

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Section 4: Benefits and Services Covered by Employer Contributions

Employer contributions to Social Security in Portugal fund a wide array of benefits and services that provide financial support and security to employees. These benefits are designed to cover various life circumstances and ensure the well-being of the workforce.

Types of Benefits:

  • Sickness and Maternity/Paternity Benefits: Financial assistance during periods of illness or after the birth/adoption of a child.
  • Unemployment Benefits: Support for employees who have lost their jobs and are actively seeking employment.
  • Work-Related Accident and Occupational Diseases Coverage: Compensation for employees who suffer from work-related injuries or illnesses.
  • Retirement Pensions: Monthly payments to employees who have reached the retirement age and have contributed to the system for a required number of years.
  • Family Allowances: Benefits for employees with children, contributing towards the costs of raising a family.

Accessing Social Security Services

Employees can access information about their entitlements and apply for benefits through the Social Security online portal using their own personal NISS. Employers must ensure that their contributions are up-to-date to guarantee uninterrupted access to these services for their employees.

Steps for Employees:

1. Log in to the Social Security online portal using their social security login credentials.

2. Navigate to the ‘Benefits and Services’; section.

3. Review the eligibility criteria and application procedures for each benefit.

4. Submit applications online and upload any required documentation.

5. Track the status of their applications and receive notifications about their 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 Social Security officials if 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 social security rights and benefits.

Section 5: Compliance and Penalties for Non-Payment

Understanding Compliance Requirements

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 Social Security system and ensuring that employees can access their entitled benefits.

Key Compliance Aspects:

  • Regular Contribution Payments: Employers are required to make monthly contributions based on the salaries paid to their employees.
  • Accurate Employee Data: It is crucial to maintain up-to-date employee records, including salary changes, employment status, and personal information.
  • Annual Declarations: Employers must submit an annual declaration to Social Security detailing the total remunerations paid and contributions made. 

Online Compliance Tools:

The Social Security online portal provides tools and resources to help employers meet their compliance obligations. These include payment platforms, record management systems, and reporting tools.

Steps for Employers:

1. Register for an employer account on the Social Security online portal (as above).

2. Utilize the online tools to manage employee records and contributions.

3. Make monthly contributions through the portals payment system.

4. Submit the annual declaration electronically before the deadline.

5. Keep digital records of all Social Security transactions and communications.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Failure to comply with Social Security regulations can result in significant penalties for employers. These penalties are designed to discourage non-payment and late payments, which can adversely affect the Social Security fund and the employees who depend on it.

Types of Penalties:

  • Fines: Monetary fines proportional to the severity and duration of the non-compliance.
  • Interest on Arrears: Interest charged on late payments, calculated from the due date to the actual payment date.
  • Legal Action: In severe cases, non-compliance can lead to legal proceedings and further sanctions.

Avoiding Penalties:

Employers can avoid penalties by staying informed about their obligations, using the online compliance tools effectively, and addressing any payment issues promptly.

Tips for Employers:

1. Set up automatic reminders for contribution deadlines.

2. Regularly review and update employee records.

3. Address any discrepancies or issues with Social Security officials immediately.

4. Consider consulting with a legal advisor or accountant specializing in Social Security law to ensure full compliance.

Conclusion: Navigating Social Security in Portugal for Employers

Navigating the Social Security system in Portugal as an employer is a significant responsibility that contributes to the stability and well-being of the workforce. Understanding and fulfilling Social Security obligations is not only a legal requirement but also a cornerstone of ethical business practice.

Employers play a pivotal role in the Social Security system, ensuring that contributions are accurately calculated and timely submitted. This process safeguards employees’ access to essential benefits, from healthcare and family allowances to unemployment support and retirement pensions.

The Social Security Direct (Segurança Social Direta) online platform is an invaluable tool for employers, streamlining the management of contributions and benefits. It offers a user-friendly interface for registration, compliance reporting, and benefit applications, making it easier for businesses to fulfill their Social Security duties.

In conclusion, 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, employers can ensure a compliant and supportive work environment. This commitment to Social Security not only benefits employees but also enhances the company reputation as a responsible and caring employer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How much does an employer pay for social security in Portugal?

In Portugal, employers are typically required to contribute 23.75% of their employee’s gross salary to the Social Security system and the employee will pay 11% from 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. Employers make contributions on behalf of their employees, and self-employed individuals must also make contributions based on their earnings.

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. These contributions ensure that individuals have support during times of need, such as in old age, illness, or job loss.

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 tax 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 working in Portugal are subject to the same social security contributions as Portuguese citizens. However, tax liability on social security benefits, like pensions received from abroad, may depend on the existence of a tax treaty between Portugal and the expats home country to avoid double taxation.

7. Can foreign companies register for social security in Portugal?

Foreign companies operating in Portugal with local employees must register for social security 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 reputation.

9. Are there any exemptions to social security contributions in Portugal?

Certain groups may be exempt from making social security contributions, such as those who already receive a pension or individuals under specific government programs. It’s important to consult with the Social Security office for detailed information on exemptions.

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

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

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