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Portugal PEO: Benefits & Best Services in 2024

When expanding your business internationally, the Portugal Professional Employer Organization (PEO) is often overlooked, yet holds immense potential. 

While the global expansion conversation often centers on market analysis and financial investment, the strategic importance of a Portugal PEO flies under the radar, but not anymore.

Recent studies show the pivotal role of efficient HR management in international businesses. A report by Deloitte reveals that companies with high-performing HR practices are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers financially. And this is a game-changer in international expansion. 

In Portugal, a country increasingly recognized for its business-friendly environment, tapping into the expertise of a local PEO is a strategic necessity.

But what sets Portugal apart isn’t just its tech scene. It’s the complex labor laws and employment practices, which can still be managed expertly by local PEOs. These organizations manage payroll, handle HR paperwork, and also act as co-employers. They shoulder significant legal and administrative responsibilities, and this allows businesses like yours to focus on core operations and growth.

What is a Portugal PEO?

A Portugal PEO shares specific employer responsibilities, particularly in payroll and HR compliance. They are a savvy local partner who knows the ins and outs of Portugal’s employment laws which govern contracts, working hours, and dismissals.

Now, a PEO is not an Employer of Record (EOR). Their roles in your business are different. 

An EOR is solely responsible for employment compliance. On the other hand, a PEO works alongside your business, handling employment tasks while you retain ultimate control over your employees. They make sure the functions run smoothly, but you’re still the director.

How a Portugal PEO Works

A Portugal PEO operates with the ‘co-employment‘ model, an approach that reshapes how you manage your workforce.

In this setup, the PEO becomes a joint employer of your staff. But, don’t get the wrong idea here – you retain full control over business operations and employee management. The PEO only takes over specific HR responsibilities. You have a dedicated HR team in the PEO but without the hassle of managing it in-house.

One of the primary roles of a Portugal PEO is to handle the legal framework of employment within Portugal to ensure compliance with local labor laws. 

For instance, there are specific regulations regarding working hours, and holidays under the Portuguese Labor Code. A PEO ensures that your business adheres to these laws and minimizes legal risks. They also handle complex areas such as tax administration and employee benefits under Portuguese law.

Top 5 Leading Portugal PEOs


Horizons offers comprehensive PEO solutions tailored to the Portuguese market. With staff on the ground to support your Portugal expansion, and the ability to support companies and remote workers through the Portugal tech visa process, Horizons is our pick for No. 1 Portugal PEO


Deel is known for its user-friendly HR platform, simplifying global workforce management. They offer streamlined onboarding processes, automated payroll, and multiple app integrations, making them an attractive choice for businesses entering Portugal.

Papaya Global

Papaya Global provides a unified platform for global workforce management. With advanced technology, they streamline payroll, benefits, and HR processes, ensuring compliance and efficiency in the Portuguese market.


Atlas combines human capital management and PEO services, offering a holistic approach to workforce management. Their expertise in HR strategy, payroll, and compliance makes them a strong choice for companies expanding in Portugal.

Velocity Global

Velocity Global specializes in simplifying global expansion, including PEO services in Portugal. Their comprehensive suite of solutions covers HR, payroll, and compliance, helping companies establish a compliant presence swiftly.

Portugal's Labor Laws

Portugal’s employment laws keep everyone safe and moving in the right direction. When you’re operating in a new country, knowing these laws is crucial, but let’s be honest, it can be tricky. Thankfully, a PEO can be your local guide and interpreter for these Portuguese employment laws.

The Labor Code (Código do Trabalho)

This is the backbone of Portuguese employment law. This code covers many crucial aspects, hiring practices, and termination procedures. For instance, it mandates a maximum of 40 working hours per week and outlines the conditions for overtime. But, Portuguese law also requires specific annual leave provisions, with a minimum of 22 working days of paid leave per year.

Social Security Code (Código do Regime Contributivo da Segurança Social)

It governs the contributions of both employers and employees to Portugal’s Social Security System. This piece can be quite the balancing act because it involves precise calculations to ensure the correct contributions.

How PEOs Keep You Compliant

You get a team that’s well-versed in these laws by hiring a PEO, and this ensures that you’re always on the right side of Portuguese regulations.

They handle the complexities. They ensure your contracts comply with the Labor Code, and manage those tricky social security contributions. Many PEOs have a certified PEO list – a roster of professionals accredited in handling Portugal’s employment laws. This certification is a stamp of assurance that your business’s HR practices are in knowledgeable hands.

Advantages of Using a PEO in Portugal

Partnering with a Portugal Professional Employer Organization (PEO) helps to achieve operational efficiency

These are the major benefits of making this smart choice:

1. Compliance 

Keeping up with the ever-changing employment laws is a daunting task. A Portugal PEO ensures that your business adheres to local laws such as the Labor Code ‘Código do Trabalho‘, which governs employment contracts, and termination procedures. 

They also stay abreast of amendments, the recent changes in the Portuguese Labor Code aimed at regulating remote work. This means you can focus on your business growth, confident that your legal bases are covered.

2. Simplified Payroll and Transformed Business

Managing payroll in a new country can be difficult. However, Portugal PEOs handle the calculations related to wages and social security contributions in compliance with Portugal’s strict payroll regulations. 

For instance, understanding the Social Security ‘Segurança Social‘  and Personal Income Tax ‘IRS is their responsibility, not yours.

3. Talent Acquisition and Retention 

One of the biggest advantages of a Portugal PEO is its ability to tap into the local talent pool effectively. They know exactly where to look and how to attract the right candidates. And, with their expertise, employee retention strategies are more robust, considering factors like Portugal’s mandatory Holiday Pay  Subsídio de Férias‘  and Christmas Allowance ‘Subsídio de Natal‘.

4. Risk Reduction 

Every business comes with its share of risks, but a Portugal PEO is a buffer. They significantly reduce the potential legal and financial risks that come with international hiring.

5. Cost-effective Solutions 

Outsourcing to a Portugal PEO can be more cost-effective than building an in-house HR team, especially for SMEs, contrary to your belief. The economies of scale achieved by PEOs allow them to offer top-notch services at a fraction of the cost, and this frees up your capital for other growth-focused investments.

Downsides of Using a PEO in Portugal

1. Potential Cost Implications

PEOs can be a financial lift for your business. Initially, the cost might seem higher compared to local HR solutions. But, the long-term savings, in terms of compliance, and efficiency, often outweigh the initial investment. It’s a high-quality service that offers long-term value over a cheaper, short-term fix.

When you choose a PEO, compare the cost against the services they provide. Don’t just look at the price tag; consider the ROI in terms of time saved, and HR headaches avoided.

2. Loss of Control

Some businesses fear losing control over their HR processes. This concern is valid, especially if you consider that you’re entrusting a critical part of your operation to an external organization.

We recommend that you choose a PEO that values collaboration and transparency. Ensure they have communication channels in place that allow you to stay informed and involved in key HR decisions.

3. Compatibility Issues

Some PEOs might not align with your company’s specific needs or culture. For example, a PEO geared towards startups might not suit a multinational corporation.

You must vet PEOs by size and specialization. Look for a PEO who has experience with businesses similar to yours, both in size and industry.

4. Legal and Compliance Challenges

While PEOs are good at handling HR legalities, the ever-changing nature of labor laws can be a problem. For instance, Portugal’s Labor Code is comprehensive, and misinterpretations can lead to compliance issues.

You should, therefore, ensure that your chosen PEO has a solid track record in legal compliance and stays up to date with the latest changes in employment law. Don’t be afraid to ask for references that show their competence in this area.

Employment Tax Compliance in Portugal

Portugal Business Guides

Choosing the Perfect PEO Services

Selecting the right PEO provides you with a team that understands your vision and can turn it into a reality

What then do you need to look for in a PEO to ensure you pick a partner that meets and exceeds your expectations?


Experience shows a PEO’s ability to handle different business scenarios. You must look for a PEO with a robust track record in Portugal, preferably one who has worked with companies similar to yours. 

Diverse Service Range 

A top-notch PEO does more than process payroll. They should offer a comprehensive list of services, employee benefits management, tax administration, and risk mitigation. Essentially, your chosen PEO should act as an extension of your business, and it must be capable of managing HR tasks that match your company’s specific needs in Portugal. 

These services can be particularly crucial for adhering to local requirements, like compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for employee data.

Customer Reviews 

There’s no better way to gauge a PEO’s effectiveness than hearing from businesses that have already partnered with them. Customer reviews and case studies can provide invaluable insights into a PEO’s responsiveness, and overall quality of service. Look for feedback that mentions how the PEO handled specific challenges or contributed to business growth. Positive testimonials can be a strong indicator of a PEO’s capability to support your expansion into Portugal.

Why the Right PEO Makes All the Difference

With the right PEO by your side, your business has the expertise and support tailored to Portugal’s unique business environment. This partnership allows you to focus on your core business activities while rest assured that your HR obligations are managed effectively and compliantly


Although both Portugal EOR and PEO offer HR and compliance solutions, an EOR acts as the legal employer for your staff in Portugal and is ideal for companies without a local entity, whereas a PEO collaborates with your existing business to provide HR services while you maintain primary employment responsibilities.