Portugal makes it a crime for employers to text their employees after work hours. Employers are also prohibited from spying on their workers when they are working from home.
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 expenditures, such as higher power and internet bills.
However, the changes to Portugal’s labor regulations are limited in scope: they do not apply to businesses with fewer than 10 employees. The new guidelines specify that companies may be fined if they contact employees outside of normal working hours. Employers are also prohibited from spying on their workers when they are working from home.
Portuguese MPs, on the other hand, rejected a proposal to add the “right to disconnect,” which is the legal right to turn off work-related messages and gadgets outside of working hours. Companies must now pay to the costs spent by employees as a result of their decision to work from home. This includes power and internet expenses, but not water bills. These charges are deductible as a business expense for employers.
Parents of young children will benefit from the new restrictions as well. Up until their child becomes eight years old, they now have the ability to work from home without having to make prior arrangements with their employers. 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 epidemic in January of this year, Portugal was the first European government to change its remote working restrictions.With a few exceptions, the interim regulations made remote working a mandatory option and required firms to offer the essential equipment for employees to complete tasks from home.
However, while remote working provided new flexibility to many during the pandemic, issues like 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.
“The pandemic has heightened the necessity for regulation of what ought to be regulated,” she added. “If we capitalize on the benefits while minimizing the drawbacks, telework may be a ‘game changer.'” Building a good remote working culture might also offer additional benefits to Portugal, such as overseas remote employees wanting a change of scenery, according to Mendes Godinho.
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