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Decree-Law no. 106/2001, of 6 of April06.04.2001
Published in D.R. number 82 (Series I-A) of 6 April 2001
Ministério do Trabalho e da Solidariedade (Ministry for Work and Solidarity)
Law no. 17/2000, of August 8, that approved the new bases of the social security and solidarity system, foresees a set of innovative rules for organisation of the system. These rules include the introduction of a national information system based on databases, structured around the identification of the social security numbers of individual persons or corporate bodies, and thus enabling a swifter and more effective pursuit of the system's objectives. In this manner, it is aimed to guarantee fast recognition and attribution of benefit payments to claimants and ensure a more effective collection of revenues, more effective combat against fraud and lower payment evasion.
Introduction of this information system depends in turn on the implementation, also foreseen in this law, of a single national identification system of all citizens that, as beneficiaries or contributors, are connected to the social security system during their lives.
Without prejudice to the approval of a set of legal and regulatory requirements that will concretise the terms of this law of bases and the actual reform - currently underway - of the social security's institutional and computer system, certain alterations must be made, as soon as possible, to the legislation regarding the payment relationship connecting citizens to the social security system, specifically the earnings declaration regime. This will facilitate access for Public Administration services to information regarding contributors/beneficiaries, and thus ensure that these services can proceed with greater agility in relation to their customers.
One of these measures is the gradual substitution of the submission of earnings declarations, by employers in a paper format, as prevails today, by the use of computerised and electronic means, that are a faster and easier means to declare earnings.
Under the terms of prevailing legislation, employers have to send earnings declaration sheets for their workers to the social security services every month. These sheets serve as the basis for the calculation of social security contributions owed by such entities, and the amount of social security payments to be made to workers in the specific event of unemployment, illness or retirement.
This work involves the collection of over four million registrations every month by three thousand social security staff and is a very laborious process of handling and treatment of paper information. It should be emphasised that employers with business activity in more than one district must duplicate earnings sheets and payment forms for each district. Sending information in an electronic format makes it possible to simplify the submission of declarations, irrespective of the number of districts or number of companies for which the declarer is responsible.
This method also abolishes the use of paper in the client and the social security services, avoiding distribution by districts and circulation via the banking sector, and thus obtaining essential information for the social security services more quickly and with greater quality. This method thereby reduces administrative costs for all those directly concerned and will free up hundreds of staff for public attendance and faster recognition of citizen rights.
In summary, employers and the social security services will reduce their administrative costs and simplify their relationship in terms of declarations of earnings and contribution payments, thus opening the way towards an electronic communications channel. At the same time, citizens will achieve faster recognition of their rights, and in the near future it will be possible to prevent unjustified situations of interrupted earnings.
There are undeniable advantages resulting from such substitution. It will also promote the use by contributors of computing and electronic means that will favour the development of a genuine Information Society in Portugal. This new scenario will contribute towards - particularly in regards to the operation of the social security system - greater speed in the recognition of social protection rights and the attribution of respective payments, and greater control of revenues by the Public Administration's services. Overall, and in respect of the constitutional principle that everyone has the right to social security support, this alteration aims to immediately contribute towards fast and effective recognition of the right to benefit payments. In the system's present form, beneficiaries sometimes experience very significant delays, specifically in terms of obtaining immediate benefit payments to substitute employment earnings, with grave social consequences.
There are other examples in Portugal of the requirement to use, on a primary or obligatory basis, computing and electronic means in the relationship between the Public Administration and citizens. One important example is the recent alteration of the Code of Civil Procedure, resulting from the approval of Decree-Law no. 183/2000, of August 10, according to which the articled exposition, claims and counter-claims of written appeals must be presented in a digital format. In relation to the social security system, this possibility first arose in the 1980s, and since 1999, on an optional basis, there has been a provision for the submission of earnings declarations in a digital format.
The legally and constitutionally defined guarantees of contributors, especially those concerning the validity, effectiveness, statement of proof and certification of digital formats and electronic documents is today consecrated, in general terms, by Decree-Law no. 290-D/99, of August 2, and in terms of the use of such means in order to make social security contributions by Regulatory Decree no. 26/99, of October 27.
The present diploma thereby consecrates, on a phased and gradual basis, the obligation for employers to submit earnings declarations for their workers in a digital format or via electronic means. Given the logistical modifications that this measure may imply, the social security services will create conditions to aid those employers that seek assistance in the preparation of adhesion to the electronic submission of earnings declarations, via the establishment of helpdesks.
The time period in which the regime resulting from this diploma will apply depends on the company's size and specifically the number of workers it employs. The smaller the company, the greater is the time period for adaptation to the new regime. In this manner, the new regime applies from July 1, 2001 for companies with more than 100 workers, from April 1, 2002 for companies with between 20 and 100 workers, and from July 1, 2002 companies with between 10 and 20 workers.
Under the terms of paragraph a) of point 1 of article 198, the Government decrees the following:
Object and scope
1 - The present diploma institutes the obligation on employers to declare their workers' earnings in a digital format or via e-mail, to the services of the social security and solidarity system, under the terms of the present decree-law and the regulations established by the administrative rule of the Minister of Labour and Solidarity specified in point 3 of article 3 of the present diploma.
2 - The earnings declaration is made on a monthly basis, between the 1st and 15th day of the month following that in which the earnings were paid.
3 - The terms of point 1 apply to all corporate bodies or individual persons registered as contributors of the social security and solidarity system, under the terms of Decree-Law no. 103/80, of May 9, that employ 10 or more workers.
Applicable legislation and regulation
1 - The validity, effectiveness and statement of proof of earnings presented via electronic means, foreseen in this diploma, are subject to Decree-Law no. 290-D/99,of August 2, and to Regulatory Decree no. 26/99 of October 27, in everything that does not contradict the present diploma.
2 - The electronic earnings declaration, is equivalent in legal terms, to the earnings declaration in paper format.
1 - From March 1, 2001, all suitable and necessary assistance for adhesion to electronic transmission of earnings declarations shall be provided by the competent services to all contributors that so request.
2 - From the date specified in the previous point, the instrument that shall serve as the basic for electronic earnings declaration shall also be made available via an electronic address to be specified by the competent services.
3 - The standard earnings declarations and payment forms in force from January 1, 2002, as well as the procedures that shall apply to application of the terms of the present diploma, are to be approved by an administrative rule of the Minister of Labour and Solidarity.
All prior legal or regulatory norms, which expressly or tacitly contradict the terms of the present diploma are revoked.
Entry into force and taking of effect
1 - The terms of the present diploma shall take effect for employers with more than 100 staff from July 1, 2001, for employers with more than 20 workers from April 1, 2002 and for employers with more than 10 workers from July 1, 2002.
2 - The obligation to adhere to the regime instituted by the present diploma applies even if, after the dates specified in the previous point for the taking of effect, the employers in question reduce their number of workers below the level therein specified.
3 - For the purposes of application of point 1, consideration shall be made of the earnings actually paid in the month immediately prior to the respective date for the taking of effect.
Checked and approved in Council of Ministers of February 7, 2001. - António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres - Eduardo Luís Barreto Ferro Rodrigues.
Proclaimed on March 20, 2001.
Let this be published.
President of the Republic, Jorge Sampaio.
Counter-signed on March 30 2001.
Prime Minister, António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres.
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