Portugal makes it illegal for bosses to contact employees outside working hours


Workers in the country will be able to relax out of hours in the knowledge that their superiors won’t be allowed to get in touch unless there is an emergency. Bosses who break the new law could be fined.

Portugal’s ruling Socialist Party devised the new law in response to the expansion of the remote workforce due to Covid lockdowns.

It has been introduced alongside a range of other laws aimed at improving home working.

Companies will now have to contribute to the work-from-home expenses of their workers, including internet bills.

They will also be responsible for arranging at least one face-to-face meeting with staff every two months.

It is hoped that this measure will help to tackle the loneliness caused by home working.

Some proposed measures were, however, turned down by Portuguese law makers.

A law giving workers the “right to disconnect” by turning off the devices used for work at the end of the day was rejected.

The new laws also do not apply to companies with fewer than 10 members of staff, according to CNBC.

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“We consider Portugal one of the best places in the world for these digital nomads and remote workers to choose to live in, we want to attract them to Portugal.”

Home working has expanded across the world since lockdowns and social distancing restrictions made it difficult for employers to bring their staff to the office.

Other countries will be looking to improve the rights of home workers in light of this shift.

But as debates on the work-life balance of home workers have been triggered around the world, a professor of law in the US said it is unlikely that the balance will swing too far to “life” in his country.

Professor Orly Lobel told the Guardian this week: “I don’t think that we’ll see a firm requirement of employers to not at all contact employees during non-work hours.”

Introducing new measures on a federal level would, he believes, just be far too difficult.

Eyes in this country will, however, now be on the UK Government to see how far it is willing to move in the fight for more home-worker rights.


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