The generic term refers to agreements between trade unions and employers or employers` organisations (see the capacity of the collective agreement) to regulate both individual and direct employment relations between the signatory parties (see below, content). The Portuguese Constitution lays the foundations for the legal institutionalisation of collective bargaining in order to confer on trade unions the competence to exercise the right to bargain (Article 56(3)(4)). The normative effects of collective agreements are expressly recognized by law (article 12 of the Employment Contracts Act), which places them among the legal sources of employment contracts (see sources of labour law). Therefore, the provisions of the collective agreements apply directly to the various employment relationships and replace all contractual conditions that are less favourable to the workers concerned. Content Collective agreements can in principle deal with all matters relating to the collective autonomy of the social partners. However, there are a number of exceptions to this principle. On the one hand, the law establishes a positive delimitation of the content of the agreements. Article 5 of the Collective Relations Act stipulates that they may regulate the reciprocal rights and obligations of workers and employers; the relationship between the signatory parties to an agreement; and procedures for the settlement of disputes arising from individual contracts of employment, the introduction of conciliation, mediation and arbitration procedures. This formulation reflects the distinction made by lawyers between the mandatory and normative parts of collective agreements. In addition, the law (in particular in Article 6) contains a negative delimitation of the content of the agreements. Firstly, there are general restrictions which arise from the limits of collective autonomy itself: collective agreements must not regulate economic activities, in particular as regards the opening hours of enterprises, the tax system and price formation. Secondly, there are a number of restrictions on autonomy arising from compliance with the provisions of constitutional law and general law, a general restriction that stems from the hierarchy of legal sources that the law itself establishes by stipulating that collective agreements must not limit the exercise of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution or lead to binding legislation.
The ban on trade union membership (Closed Shop) is a consequence of this. It is also prohibited for agreements to infringe the legal provisions on minimum conditions of work and employment; Only provisions more favourable to workers are permitted, whether introduced by individual autonomy or, as a general rule, by collective autonomy. It should be noted, however, that in some cases the legislation prohibits the establishment of systems of regulation through collective autonomy, different from those provided for by law, and, in other cases, prohibits the provision of more favourable conditions for workers (e.g.B. immediately after the revolution, but still in the 1989 Dismissal Act). Portuguese labour law contains various such restrictions. In 1975 and 1976, a number of issues were totally or partially excluded from the competence of the social partners (who succeeded in the law), such as the termination of the employment contract, fixed-term contracts and the regulation of annual leave, public holidays and absences from work. Despite these restrictions, collective agreements often contain provisions such as clauses contrary to the law, which often set more favourable conditions for workers with regard to disciplinary proceedings, leave and absences. .