European Instruments for the Protection of Citizens against injustice and illegal decisions

European Instruments for the Protection of Citizens against injustice and illegal decisions

It happens all too often, citizens are unprotected and injustice before the action or decision of a State of the European Union or its administrative public institutions. What many of these people do not know is that there are several European and international instruments for citizens to be heard and defended before such injustices or illegalities.

There are several instruments that citizens can use and should always respect legal deadlines for exercising their rights.

What are petitions to the European Parliament?

Any national or resident of the European Union, either personally or in association with other citizens, as well as companies, organizations or associations, may petition the European Parliament.

These Petitions can have very varied subjects. In particular, the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital; non-discrimination on grounds of nationality; equal treatment of men and women; tax harmonization; the right to education, training and health; and environmental protection.

If the petition is accepted, the European Parliament will seek to work with the entities of the national Member State to resolve the issue raised in the Petition. The European Parliament can not, however, amend the decisions taken by the competent authorities of the Member States, since the European Parliament is not a judicial body. Therefore, the European Parliament can not deliver judgments or revoke decisions of the national courts of the Member States.

The European Parliament can send the citizen’s petition to other European entities, such as the European Court of Human Rights; or even refer the matter to national authorities (for example, national ombudsmen or committees responsible for considering petitions the parliaments of the Member States).

What are the duties of the European Ombudsman?

Any citizen or resident of a Member State of the European Union, as well as companies, associations or other entities having their seat in the European Union, may submit a complaint to the Ombudsman.

The European Public Prosecutor investigates complaints concerning cases of wrong decisions in the conduct of the institutions or of Community entities, injustice, administrative irregularities, discrimination, abuse of power, lack or refusal of information and undue delay.

The Ombudsman is impartial and does not receive instructions from any government or entity. Surveys may be opened either by the European Ombudsman’s own initiative or following a complaint by a citizen or company.

The citizen must present his complaint within a maximum period of two years from the date of the events.

When possible appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union?

The Court of Justice of the European Union interprets European law to ensure that it is applied in the same way in all countries of the European Union.

In certain circumstances, citizens, companies or organizations who consider that their rights have been violated by a European institution may also apply to this Court. For example, it may request the annulment of Community decisions affecting it directly, claim compensation in accordance with the general principles common to the laws of the Member States for the reparation of damage caused by an institution or its servants in the performance of their duties ( action for damages or non-contractual liability of the Community).

What is the European Court of Human Rights?

The European Court of Human Rights has its seat in Strasbourg and implements the European Convention on Human Rights. Its mission is to ensure that the rights and guarantees set out in the Convention are respected by States.

Any citizen can file a complaint before the Court when it considered a direct victim of one or more violations of the rights and guarantees provided by the Convention and its Protocols by a public entity or Member State Court.

Here again, it is important to pay attention to the six – month deadline for filing the complaint from the date of the decision of the national authority of the Member State.

Experienced legal support is advisable in clarifying and following up on these matters.

Productivity Rewards Paid to Workers

Productivity Rewards Paid to Workers

In Portugal, it is frequent to pay productivity premiums by companies to their workers. It is often argued whether these productivity premiums are part of the workers’ monthly remuneration.

What are productivity bonuses?

Labor productivity premiums that are regular can be considered an integral part of the employee’s remuneration. The concept of regularity must be verified in each specific case, taking into account its own circumstances.

In general terms, the labor productivity premium is regular when it has the same nature and is repeated over a period of time, continuous or periodic, these amounts being constant or variable. This means that labor productivity premiums may have different amounts, and yet they still have a regular character. This regular nature of the law for labor productivity premiums does not refer to the amounts but to the period of payments (eg monthly, quarterly, annual).

If the labor productivity premiums are paid regularly in an equal amount, we can say that the labor productivity premiums are part of the wage. If the productivity premiums are paid periodically with different values, we can say that the productivity premiums are part of the variable salary.

Is it necessary to pay Social Security contributions?

The annual variable annual salary, including productivity premiums, even if paid in advance over several months of the year, require payment of social security contributions.

On the other hand, if labor productivity premiums are only paid by the employer to the worker on an exceptional basis and with certain objectives to be attained, they will not be considered as a regular salary and, therefore, it will not be compulsory to pay social security contributions on these amounts.

Should compensation paid to Employees include amounts paid through productivity premiums?

If the labor productivity premiums paid by the employer are not considered variable regular salary, those amounts shall never be included in the calculation of the compensation payable by the employer to the worker, regardless of the dismissal.

If the labor productivity premiums are paid regularly and periodically, they must be considered as the employee’s salary and thus will count towards the compensation to be paid by the employer in cases of dismissals without just cause.

In cases of accidents at work, the labor productivity premiums paid regularly by the employer to the worker should be included in the compensation payable to the worker by the insurance companies. Often this increase can make all the difference in the financial life of the injured worker.

In cases of dismissal based on the end of place at work, collective dismissal or at the end of the term of the contract, the amounts paid for labor productivity premiums are not taken into account for the compensation to be paid by the employer to the worker. In these cases, Portuguese law only considers the values of basic remuneration.

In all the cases referred to above, the worker must prove that the productivity premiums paid by the employer are regular and periodic in order to benefit from the average calculation of these amounts in the compensation he will receive.

Experienced legal support is advisable in clarifying and following these matters.

Divorce – Important Decisions

Divorce – Important Decisions

With the divorce decision there are several key issues that need to be resolved as soon as possible.

Firstly, it should be decided exercise of parental responsibilities of minor children, in particular, with whom the minor will reside, visits arrangements, holidays and festive periods, pension payment and other essential questions of life of minor children. But there are other important issues to decide. Let’s see.

How to share the common property and debts?

It is important that the couple set the list of common assets, debts and other obligations created during the marriage. This list should contain a concrete and detailed description of each asset (real estate, vehicles, bank balances, furniture, etc.) and the value assigned to each of these assets.

In relation to common debts and obligations, the debt value, identification of the creditor (bank, financial institution, etc.) and, if possible, reference of the contract should also be indicated in concrete terms. All this will be essential in order to subsequently make the map of sharing between the ex-spouses. At this point, it is important to note that at the time of division of property, both are equally responsible for fulfilling the obligations, including the payment of benefits and debts. In other words, the lender may require one of the former spouses to pay the entire debt or fulfillment of the obligation; should this former spouse subsequently require the other to perform its part of the debt or obligation. In certain cases, one of the spouses may see his (her, his) salary executed for payment of a common debt. Loans to other persons where the former spouses are guarantors and who, years later, can bring many problems.

Who gets to live in the family home?

The former spouses must decide on the assignment of the family home, that is, decide who will live in the house that was the home of the family.

In the case of divorce by agreement, the assignment of the family home to one of the spouses will have to be defined and written in a document. If it is not possible to obtain the agreement, then it will be necessary to ask the court to decide which of the two will be the property assigned.

In the case of a court decision, the allocation of the family home will be determined according to several criteria, for example the needs of the spouses and the interests of the children. The assignment will, in principle, be made under lease, whose rules – in particular the amount of rent – will be determined by the court.

Can one of the former spouses is required to pay financial board to the other ex-spouse?

The general rule in Portugal is that each former spouse must obtain their own support. However, in certain exceptional cases, one of the spouses may require the other to pay the financial pension.

This means that the financial pension to be paid by a former spouse to the other is exceptional and only temporary, because the aim is to help the former spouse to have secured their basic needs. In the first days after the divorce, the former spouse who receives the financial pension must have a minimum of conditions to adapt to his new life.

Who gets the pet?

Recently, it was established law that governs the situation of the former couple pets, namely, who will get the animal guard taking into account the interests of the animal and the family. The divorce agreement (if it is friendly) or the divorce decree (if it is in dispute) must establish which of the ex-spouses is with the animal, if the animal is in turn with the spouses and what regime and visits, payment of the costs of food, hygiene and veterinary consultations and their treatments.

Throughout this process, it is advisable to have experienced legal support in clarifying and monitoring these matters.