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

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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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Despite this, the set of new measures has been hailed as a step in the right direction regarding the rights of those who work from home.

Ana Mendes Godinho, Portugal’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, told a Lisbon conference last month said these laws mean her country is among the “best places in the world” for staff to work outside of the office.

She said: “The pandemic has accelerated the need to regulate what needs to be regulated.

“Telework can be a ‘game changer’ if we profit from the advantages and reduce the disadvantages.

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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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