Portugal’s governing party has introduced a new law making it illegal for companies to contact staff outside their contracted working hours.
In the hopes of creating a “digital workforce” that works for all parties involved, Portugal has made it illegal for employers to contact their workers after their contractual hours.
According to the Associated Press, Portugal’s parliament approved new labour laws on working from home, introducing additional protection for employees who do their job away from company premises.
Portugal’s Socialist government said that the new rules are a response to the trend of more staff working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The new labour laws bring new penalties for companies that disturb the privacy of staff or their families, and obligate employers to compensate staff for work-related expenses incurred at home,” the publication stated. “The new rules say that companies should avoid contacting workers outside office hours.”
Staff should also meet with their superiors to prevent worker isolation at least every two months.
Also, companies should pay workers for additional personal expenses incurred at home, such as electricity or internet bills.
Lawmakers also voted down a measure that would have granted workers the right to turn off professional communication systems when off work.
Companies not complying with the rules will ultimately be liable for fines.
In the end, as remote working during the pandemic brought new flexibility to many, issues such as unequal access to IT equipment showed the need for the government to step in, Portugal’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho, told the Web Summit conference in Lisbon last week. “The pandemic has accelerated the need to regulate what needs to be regulated,” she said, according to Euro News. “Telework can be a ‘game changer’ if we profit from the advantages and reduce the disadvantages”.
Building a healthy remote working culture could also bring other benefits to Portugal, Mendes Godinho said, in the form of foreign remote workers seeking a change of scenery.
“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,” she told the Web Summit audience.
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