COVID-19 pandemic forced work from home culture almost everywhere. Even though some offices are reopening and asking employees to return, many are still skeptical. However, one might relate to how this new work culture has blurred the line between work and personal life. Extended work hours or getting a call or text from your boss even out of hours didn't come as a surprise. But Portugal is not allowing that.
Portugal has passed a new law that prohibits employers from contacting their workers outside of work hours. It can be a call, text or even an email. Your boss just cannot do it, no matter what.
"The employer must respect the privacy of the worker," including periods of rest and family time, the new law stipulates. In case of any violation, it is considered a "serious" offense and could result in a fine.
Portugal's new law for workers
The law applies to companies with more than 10 employees. In addition, the new law also allows staff with children to work remotely indefinitely without having to seek prior approval from their employers until the child turns eight. However, if both parents are eligible for remote working, they are required to alternate periods of working from home.
The new law is part of the country's efforts to regulate working from home. Also, there shall be no discrimination with remote workers in terms of holidays, careers, training, health and insurance provisions. Companies are expected to organise regular face-to-face meetings to help prevent remote workers from feeling isolated.
"Remote working has great advantages provided we control the disadvantages. The pandemic accelerated the need to regulate what already needed to be regulated," said Ana Mendes Godinho, labour minister, to Lisbon's Web Summit.
Portugal now joins France, which gave workers the right to ignore after-hours business emails in 2017.