This country just banned employers from bothering employees beyond office hours

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This country just banned employers from bothering employees beyond office hours
(Image: Annie Spratt)

If you’ve ever had a persistent superior pester you even after you’ve logged off of work, then you might want to quit and work for a Portuguese boss instead.

That’s because a recent labor law passed in Portugal has made it illegal for employers to contact their workers outside of their regular hours by phone, message, or e-mail.

Portugal’s Parliament passed the new policy earlier this month following an increase of people working from home amid the global pandemic. According to the policy, workers should have the right to at least 11 consecutive hours of “night rest,” during which they should not be interrupted unless for emergencies.

It’s also part of larger legislation that seeks to regulate work-from-home arrangements. Under the legislation, employees have the right whether or not to commit to remote work, considering its compatibility with their job.

Should they wish to work remotely, their employers will be responsible for providing them with the appropriate devices to accomplish their job. They should also reimburse their workers for any additional expenses, including any increase in bills incurred while working from homes such as electricity, gas, and internet. 

Non-complying employers could be slapped with a “serious” fine, although the new laws reportedly do not apply to companies that have fewer than 10 employees.

Ana Mendes Godinho, Portugal’s minister of labor, solidarity, and social security, said that the pandemic had shown telecommuting was a “game changer, giving workers the power to decide where and from who they want to work from.”

man in gray dress shirt sitting on chair in front of computer monitor
(Image: Unsplash/Luke Peters)

Portugal’s novel “right to disconnect” law has already been in practice in some European countries to some capacity, namely Spain, France, and Ireland. In 2017, French workers were given the right to ignore business e-mails beyond working hours, while in Spain, meetings must now be set up and take place during working hours.

Several countries around the world have also appealed to remote workers and digital nomads. According to research firm Gartner, remote workers will comprise an estimated 32% of the global workforce by the end of 2021.

Art Daniella Sison

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