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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Portugal bans bosses texting staff after-hours


Portugal has banned bosses from text messaging and emailing staff out of working hours as part of new laws dubbed “right to rest”.

The change is part of an effort to improve work-life balance in response to an increase in work-from-home opportunities in the country.

Companies with more than ten employees may face fines if they contact their employees outside of their contracted hours.

There are also new guidelines for allowing employees with children to work remotely.

Parents will be permitted to work from home indefinitely without obtaining prior approval from their employers until their child reaches the age of eight.

Companies may also be required to contribute to higher household bills as a result of working from home, such as energy and internet costs.

Companies are expected to organise regular face-to-face meetings in order to combat the isolation that remote workers may experience.

Some aspects of the package, however, were not approved by Portugal’s parliament, including a “right to disconnect” that allows employees to turn off all work devices after hours.

Ana Mendes Godinho, Portugal’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, said last week at a conference in Lisbon that “telework can be a game changer,” but its growth must be regulated.

She also hoped that improved labour protections would entice more foreigners to come to the country.

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

Portugal already has a temporary resident visa programme aimed at attracting entrepreneurs and freelancers. Madeira, a Portuguese island, has a “digital nomad village” with free wifi and office desks.

Several other countries, including Barbados and Croatia, have introduced so-called “digital nomad visas” in addition to standard tourist permits.

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