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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Conditions of service for teachers working in early childhood and school education


9.Teachers and education staff

9.2Conditions of service for teachers working in early childhood and school education

Last update: 30 March 2024

Planning policy

In recent years, due to a fall in the birth-rate, a significant drop in the number of students has resulted in fewer school staff positions.

When applications for teaching positions in school clusters or non-clustered schools are invited, the number of vacancies is previously established. The process is conducted by the leadership of each school cluster/non-clustered school in conjuction with the regional services of the Ministry of Education (Ministério da Educação - ME), based on the statistical data regarding the full annual timetables requested by schools during the previous three years.

Entry to the profession

In 2014, Decree-Law No 83-A/2014, 23 May was published, which altered the legal framework of the recruitment system implemented by Decree-Law No 132/2012, 27 June, which replaced Decree-Law No 20/2006, 31 January, which had been given new wording in 2009, with the publication of Decree Law No 51/2009, 27 February. In this new wording, and due to the application of the provisions of the Teaching Career Statute, a professional qualification for the recruitment group(s) to which the teacher(s) is/are a candidate is now a requirement for the national teacher recruitment system.

The Directorate General for School Administration, which is a core service of the Ministry of Education, is responsible for recruiting tenured and fixed-term contract teachers in accordance with temporary needs.

Recruitment for pre-school teachers and teachers for the various education levels is done via a national public recruitment procedure, which is disseminated in the government gazette (Diário da República) and on the Directorate General’s website. Applications are made exclusively via an electronic form where candidates include personal and professional details and state their preference for schools. Candidates are graded based on factors such as teaching qualification grades, teaching experience and assessment of teaching performance. Provisional lists of the successful and unsuccessful applicants are then published. Then follows a period when applicants can request their details be corrected. The final lists include excluded applicants, teachers placed in the schools of their choice and those placed in schools not requested.

Schools can also contract teachers directly for temporary teaching positions or for training in specific technical areas, as stipulated in Decree-Law No 83-A/2014, 23 May. This occurs after the Directorate General of Human Resources in Education is unable to place teachers. This may be due to a scarcity of teachers in particular recruitment groups, or in specific technical areas where recruitment is undertaken exclusively through the schools directly contracting teaching staff.

In 2009, for the first time, the school clusters/non-clustered schools located in Priority Intervention Educational Areas (Territórios Educativos de Intervenção Prioritária - TEIP) were able to launch their own recruitment campaigns to fill teaching vacancies, in accordance with Ordinance No 365/2009, 7 April.

In Portugal, an action plan is currently being drafted to guarantee the quality, attractiveness and relevance to the job market of education and vocational training via partnership with enterprises and other bodies. This plan includes a revision of the initial teacher training model for basic and upper secondary education teachers, in order to improve quality, as well as redefining the system of access to the teaching profession.

In 2023, the decree-law establishing the new management and recruitment system for basic and upper secondary school teaching staff and specialised training professionals was approved (Decree-Law No 32-A/2023, 8 May).

The priorities of the approved recruitment system are combating professional insecurity, greater stability regarding access to careers, direct assignment to a school cluster or school and the reorganisation of teaching zone staff.

This new system has made it possible to recruit over 10,500 teachers and initiate other measures that have been developed and implemented since its publication, such as salary updates, attractiveness of the profession and the regularisation of positions with teachers from artistic and technological schools.


In Portugal, there is no programme specifically called induction for teachers at the beginning of their teaching careers, however, there is a probation period that lasts at least one year.

This takes place at the school where the teacher is working, focussing on their capacity for integration, adaptation and participation in educational community activities, as well as the didactic, pedagogical and scientific abilities required to achieve high levels of proficiency that inexorably contribute to the success of students and the educational system.

The teacher on probation is accompanied by another teacher to assist with didactic, pedagogical and scientific plans. Whenever possible, this teacher is from the same recruitment group, positioned at scale 4 or higher, and has a minimum of a Good grade for their last performance review.

The teacher (support teacher) who assists the teacher on probation is chosen by the department coordinator, by the teachers’ council of the recruitment group they belong to, or by the director of the school cluster or non-clustered school.

The provisional appointment of teachers becomes definitive at the beginning of the school year following the probationary period with a performance assessment of good or better.

Ordinance No 119/2018, 4 May defines the terms and the way in which pre-school teachers and basic and upper secondary education teaching staff with years service are repositioned on the salary scale before entering the profession, as referred to in article 36, no. 3 and article 133, no. 1 of the respective teaching career statute (ECD).

Decree-Law No 32-A/2023, 8 May, establishes the new management and recruitment system for basic and upper secondary school teaching staff and specialised training professionals.

Professional status

Teachers who are tenured to a school/school cluster or a teaching zone as a result of the national teacher recruitment procedure, are given a public-employee contract of unlimited time.

This will only end when early retirement is taken, or when the maximum age limit for teachers has been reached (70 years of age), or in the event of illness, death, rescission, among others, or as a result of disciplinary action.

Teachers undertaking duties that meet sporadic or temporary needs, do so on fixed- or unlimited-term contracts.

The contract is always subject to a written agreement and is obliged to mention certain aspects (namely, the kind of contract it is, the contracted activity, the profession, the employee’s category and remuneration).

The fixed-term contract should indicate the justification for the term stipulated, and the date the contract ends.

Until tenured, teachers are awarded fixed- or unlimited-term contracts following a national or school-level teacher recruitment procedure. This school-level contracting method represents consolidation of school autonomy and one of Portugal’s educational policy measures.

The General Employment Law for Public Office, approved by Law No 35/2014, 20 June, applies to teachers, with adaptations stipulated in the Teaching Career Statute (ECD).

Replacement measures

Ordinance No 17387/2005, 12 August, defined the implementation of replacement lessons to compensate for the unforeseen absence of the respective teacher. Replacement lessons should preferably be given by teachers who have not been given their teaching timetables or who have few lessons. Replacement lessons are included in the teacher’s teaching timetable and as such, do not constitute overtime.

To recruit replacement teachers owing to illness, maternity leave, retirement, among other reasons, timetables are requested at the recruitment reserve (contingent of applicants who failed to receive a teaching position and await placement). If the recruitment reserve has no candidates available, the school can contract replacement staff directly, according to the abovementioned Decree-Law No 132/2012.

Supporting measures

In Chapter 2 (Rights and Duties), the Teaching Career Statute for pre-school, basic and upper secondary teachers, approved by Decree-Law No 139-A/90, 28 April, with wording from Decree-Laws No 1/98, 2 January, No 121/2005, 26 July, No 229/2005, 29 December, and No 15/2007, 19 January, republished by Decree-Law No 270/2009, 30 September, amended by Decree-Law No 75/2010, 23 June, and by Decree-Law No 41/2012, 21 February, determines the right to technical, material and documental support for the purposes of teaching staff’s training and information, as well as their teaching practice. 


Pre-school, basic and upper secondary education

The public education teachers' salary scale, approved by Decree-Law No 15/2007, 19 January, amended by Decree-Laws No 270/2009, 30 September, No 75/2010, 23 June and No 41/2012, 21 February, is based on indexed scales.

The salary regulations for teachers in pre-school, basic and upper secondary education are established by the joint order from the Prime-Minister and the Minister of Finance after negotiations with the teachers’ union representatives.

Due to amendments introduced by Decree-Law No 75/2010, 23 June, and Decree-Law No 41/2012, 21 February, the career of pre-school, basic and upper secondary teachers working in public education is divided into a single category with 10 scales whose duration and remuneration are indicated below:

Scale 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
Index 167 188 205 218 235 245 272 299 340 370
Monthly salary (Euros) 1 536, 90 1 730,16 1 886,61 2 006,25 2 162,70 2 254,72 2 503,21 2 751,69 3 129,01 3 405,09
Duration of scale 4 years 4 years 4 years 4 years 2 years 4 years 4 years 4 years 4 years  

Note: In Portugal the Teaching Career Statute is the same for all teachers of pre-school, basic and upper secondary education. Monthly salary – reference year 2022.

According to Decree-Law No 41/2012, 21 February, teaching career is divided into 10 scales. The index of each scale is presented in the above table, as well as the respective remuneration.   

During a regular career, a teacher reaches the last scale after around 34 years. Teachers stay for at least four years on each scale, except the 5th scale, where they may stay only two years.

School or school cluster heads, deputy heads and assistants receive a salary supplement, per position, determined according to the number of daytime students in the school cluster/non-clustered school.

The allowances are paid twelve times per year, i.e., school heads do not receive the holiday and Christmas supplement (Legislative Order No 5/2010, 24 December).

Private schools regulate their teachers' salaries according to a separate pay scale. The scale for public education is used as a guide but is not binding.

For more information, check the report “Teachers' and School Heads' Salaries and Allowances in Europe”, which is updated annually.

Working time and holidays

Working time

Teachers’ working hours are stipulated in the Career Statute for pre-school, basic and upper secondary teachers.

Teachers are obliged to work 35 hours a week over five working days.

The weekly timetable includes a classroom teaching component and a non-teaching component (which lasts an average of 13 hours per week), obligatorily recorded in the timetable, with the exception of the non-teaching component intended for individual work.

Teachers in pre-school and 1st cycle basic education teach 25 hours a week.

Teachers in the 2nd and 3rd cycles of basic education and upper secondary education have a weekly teaching load of 22 hours a week.

In the 2nd and 3rd cycles of basic education, upper secondary education and special education, the teaching load is reduced to a limit of no fewer than eight hours a week under the following terms:

  • Two hours reduction when teachers reach 50 years of age and have been teaching for 15 years.
  • A further two hours reduction when teachers reach 55 years of age and have been teaching for 20 years.
  • A further four hours reduction when teachers reach 60 years of age and have been teaching for 25 years.

The hours cut from the teaching component are added onto the non-teaching component worked at the school, as part of the teacher’s timetable.

Teachers in pre-school and 1st cycle basic education who are 60 years old, regardless of any other requirement, may apply for a reduction of five teaching hours.

When teachers in pre-school and 1st cycle of basic education attain 25 and 33 years of service, they may apply for total release from classroom teaching, for a period of one school year.


Every year, teachers are entitled to a holiday period as established in the rules for public employees. Teachers have holidays between the end of the school year and the beginning of the next school year.

The annual holiday entitlement is 22 working days.

A day is added to annual holiday entitlement for every ten years the teacher has been teaching.

There are no lessons during the Christmas, Carnival and Easter periods.

Career advancement

Pre-school, basic and upper secondary education

Progress on the teaching career ladder consists of reaching a higher scale and a salary increase related with the scale.

To advance in the teaching career, it is necessary to comply with all the following demands:

  • A minimum period of active teaching time spent on the scale immediately below.
  • A qualitative classification no lower than good in the latest teacher evaluation.
  • Attending and passing further training or specialised training for at least half of the assessment cycle that corresponds to no less than 25 hours on the 5th scale or 50 hours on the other scales.

Apart from the abovementioned requirements, from 01/09/2010 onwards, progressing to the 3rd, 5th and 7th scales also depends on:

  • lesson observations – when progressing to the 3rd and 5th scale.
  • annual vacancies established, according to Ordinance No 29/2018, 23 January, for teachers who have been evaluated as good – when progressing to the 5th and 7th scale.

Note: Law No 114/2017, 29 December (Law on the State Budget for 2018), determined that teaching time should, once again, count regarding career progress.

The attribution of coordination duties and/or other educational responsibilities (areas, ICT, continuing education, management positions) does not depend on evaluation, but rather on the school head's assessment of the teachers' competencies for the job. 

Mobility and transfers

Pre-school, basic and upper secondary education

Teacher mobility is achieved via the recruitment procedure, exchange, requisition, secondment and service commission.

In addition to this, teachers in public pre-school, basic and upper secondary education can move between teaching levels or cycles and between recruitment groups.

Teachers can move between teaching levels or cycles and between recruitment groups via selection systems, provided they have the professional qualifications demanded at these levels, cycles or groups. A teacher transfers to another school due to a recruitment procedure to fill a position at the school cluster/school as stipulated in Decree-Law No 83-A/2014, 23 May.

The mobility system stipulated in articles 67 and 68 of the Teaching Career Statute (requisition and secondment, respectively) is only applicable to tenured teachers working in school clusters/non-clustered schools and tenured teachers working in the pedagogical area.

The time spent teaching in private schools is considered when a teacher enters the public school system in terms defined by Ordinance No 119/2018, 4 May.


Teaching staff are subject to the General Employment Law for Public Office approved by Law No 35/2014, 20 June, with adaptations from the Teacher Career Statute. Dismissal is the penalty applied in case of very serious offense, which is the responsibility of the Minister of Education (ME).

Retirement and pensions

Pre-school, basic and upper secondary education

Since 2006, regarding retirement and pensions, the convergence of the civil service benefits system with the general social security system has affected teachers' retirement. As such, according to the following table, the full career involves a minimum length of service that has gradually been increased from that in force until the end of 2005, which was 36 years. This increase is six months for each year, up to 40 years from 2013 onwards. The same type of change has occurred with the minimum age, which recently reached 66 years and 4 months, with 40 years of contributions.