Employers in Portugal will now become lawbreakers if they contact their employees outside work hours. The country’s parliament has passed a new law banning such communication.
Portugal is the first nation in the European Union to pass this kind of law in response to COVID-19. Earlier in the pandemic, the country created temporary laws making work-from-home options mandatory for most companies.
The law was approved on Nov. 5 to address issues faced by remote workers.
Proponents say the law will create a better work-life balance for employees. Many believe that contacting an employee outside of work hours is equivalent to extending the employee’s workday.
Employers who ignore the law will face fines.
Additionally, companies must aid their employees in paying for remote work expenses like internet service and electricity. Fortunately for employers, such costs will count as tax-deductible business expenses.
The law will also free remote workers from micromanaging bosses; employers may not monitor work-at-home employees during work hours.
Remote employees with children younger than 8 have extra reason to celebrate. They no longer need advance agreement from employers before working from home.
The new rules, however, will not affect every business. They apply only to companies that employ more than 10 people.
Those who want in-person work to resume, bringing society back to a pre-pandemic employment style, might wonder why remote work merits new laws.
Despite pandemic-related suffering, many remote employees discovered that they were happier and more productive at home. Such workers aren’t willing to let those benefits go without a fight, and the new law requires employers to adapt.
In the long run, employers might benefit from these changes. Happier workers are often more productive, and companies will find attracting talent outside small geographic regions easier.