New labor legislation passed by Portugal’s parliament may result in a healthier work-life balance for remote workers. According to Portugal’s ruling Socialist Party, the new laws were passed on Friday in response to an increase in home working as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Employers who contact employees outside of business hours may face penalties under the new guidelines.
Companies will also be required to contribute to the cost of remote working expenses, such as higher electricity and internet bills. However, the changes to Portugal’s labor regulations are limited in scope: they do not apply to businesses with fewer than ten employees.
The new laws specify that companies can now be fined if they contact employees outside of their typical working hours. Employers are also prohibited from watching their workers work from home. Portuguese MPs, on the other hand, rejected a proposal to include the so-called “right to disconnect,” or the legal right to turn off work-related messages and gadgets outside of office hours.
Companies must now pay to the costs paid by employees as a result of the transition to remote working. This can include power or internet costs, but not water bills. These expenses can be deducted as a business expense by employers. The new regulations are also beneficial to parents with young children. They now have the right to work from home without having to notify their employers in advance, up until their child reaches the age of eight.
The remote working guidelines also include measures to combat loneliness, with employers required to hold face-to-face meetings at least every two months. As a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic in January of this year, Portugal was the first European government to change its remote working restrictions. With a few exceptions, the temporary rules made remote working a mandatory option and required firms to offer the essential tools for employees to complete tasks at home.
However, while remote working provided new flexibility to many during the pandemic, issues such as unequal access to IT equipment demonstrated the need for the government to intervene, according to Ana Mendes Godinho, Portugal’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, who spoke at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon last week.