The law stipulates a minimum monthly wage of 11,000 escudos ($109). The government defines the poverty income level as 105 escudos ($1.04) a day. The law stipulates a maximum of eight hours of work per day and 44 hours per week. The law requires rest periods, the length depending on the work sector. The minimum rest period is 12 hours between workdays. The law also provides for daily and annual overtime hours granted in exceptional circumstances. The law states a worker is entitled to 22 business days of paid vacation. Overtime must be compensated with at least time and a half pay. The worker, however, can replace up to half of his/her holidays through an agreement with the employer.
The law sets minimum occupational and safety standards and gives workers the right to decline to work if working conditions pose serious risks to health or physical integrity. In specific high-risk sectors, such as fishing or construction, the government can and often does provide, in consultation with unions and employers, specific current and appropriate occupational safety and health rules. In general it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the workplace is secure, healthy, and hygienic. The employer must also develop a training program for workers. Workers can remove themselves from situations that endangered health or safety without jeopardy to their employment. Authorities effectively protected employees in these situations.
Standards were enforced in all sectors, including the informal sector, although no penalties for violations that included fines or imprisonment were imposed during the year. The government made efforts to reduce work accidents and illness at work by carrying out more inspections and awareness campaigns to promote a culture of prevention and safety at work. The DGT and IGT are charged with implementing labor laws. Seven technicians worked for the DGT and 14 worked for the IGT, covering three islands (Santiago, Sao Vicente, and Sal). Both agencies agreed with trade unions these numbers were inadequate, and there remained a need for tighter enforcement of labor standards, especially on the more sparsely populated islands where monitoring was more difficult. Even though companies tended to respect laws on working hours, many employees, such as domestic workers, health professionals, farmers, fishermen, and commercial workers, commonly worked for longer periods of time than the law allows. Penalties for labor violations depend on the number of workers employed; the minimum is 10,000 escudos ($99) going up to 180,000 escudos ($1,780). According to the IGT, there were no penalties for violations during the year.
According to the IGT 2014 report, most irregularities detected during labor inspections related to nonsubscription to Social Security, nonsubscription to Mandatory Insurance for Job Injury, and some irregularities in complying with health and safety standards. Inspections revealed the most common work violations concerned the right to vacation time and the right to rest periods between work periods. Specific data, however, on wages and hours of work was not available. Nonetheless, the report indicated the IGT made 1,482 inspections, and inspectors identified 624 irregularities across the nine islands in all sectors, 218 of which required intervention. Although there were no official studies available, some sources speculated foreign migrant workers were more likely to be exploited than others.
Between 17,000 and 22,000 immigrants, mostly from the Economic Community of West African States, were working in the country. Most were men, but the number of immigrant women recently increased. No official data existed, but most immigrants were between the ages of 20 and 40 and lacked higher job qualifications but played important roles in the economy. Generally they worked in civil construction, security services, hospitality, and tourism. It was common for companies not to honor migrant workers’ rights regarding contracts, especially concerning deductions for social security.
According to the IGT, during 2013 there were 194 work-related accidents, compared to 288 in 2012. No official data was available on the number of workplace deaths. The restaurant business/food services, steel industry, and the construction sector had the most work accidents reported during the year.