The law stipulates a monthly minimum wage of 11,000 escudos ($99.75). The government defines the poverty income level as 105 escudos ($1.05) a day, making the minimum wage greater than the official estimate of the poverty income level. 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, may 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 may 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 provide for a secure, healthy, and hygienic workplace. The employer must also develop a training program for workers. Workers may remove themselves from situations that endangered health or safety without jeopardy to their employment. Authorities effectively protected employees in these situations.
Certain formal sector benefits, such as social security accounts for informal workers, were enforced in the informal sector, although no penalties for violations that included fines or imprisonment were imposed during the year. The informal sector remains largely unpoliced by official government actors. 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. Although companies tended to respect laws on working hours, many employees, such as domestic workers, health professionals, farmers, fishers, 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 fine is 10,000 escudos ($100) going up to 180,000 escudos ($1,800). According to the IGT, there were no penalties for violations during the year.
According to the IGT’s 2015 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 on wages and hours of work was not available. Nonetheless, the report indicated the IGT made 904 inspections, including unannounced inspections, and inspectors identified 1,622 irregularities across the nine islands in all sectors, of which 358 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 ECOWAS countries, were working in the country. Most were men, but the number of immigrant women increased during the year. No official data existed, but most immigrants were between ages 20 and 40 and lacked higher job qualifications; however, they 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.
No official data were available on the number of work-related accidents and workplace deaths during the reporting period. The restaurant business/food services, steel industry, and the construction sector had the most work-related accidents reported during the year.