MADRID. Under the new law, Portugal prohibits employers from contacting their employees during non-business hours and remotely monitoring their work as part of one of the world’s most daring measures to regulate remote work, which the pandemic has imposed on many in the industrialized world.
And at a time when skyrocketing natural gas prices have spiked energy costs, the law requires employers to pay a portion of the electricity and internet bills for employees who work from home.
The law, approved by parliament on Friday and taking effect this weekend, was developed by the Portuguese government, led by socialists, as an attempt to maintain a balance between work and personal life. Due to the pandemic, millions of people have worked from home over the past two years, but Portugal is a rare country to pass laws aimed at formally protecting working hours outside of working hours and containing work-related costs.
The law was presented by Portugal’s Labor Minister Ana Mendes Godinho as a way to not only protect domestic workers, but also to encourage more foreigners to choose Portugal as a place to work remotely. Portugal has become one of the main destinations for so-called digital nomads, in part because it offers them special temporary resident visas to work from Portugal.
“We consider Portugal to be one of the best places in the world to live for these digital nomads and remote workers, and we want to bring them to Portugal,” said Ms Godinho at a conference in Lisbon this month.
Under the new law, employers can be fined for contacting staff outside of working hours, except in urgent cases. The law also requires companies to ensure that telecommuters come to their workplace at least once every two months to meet with their supervisors and colleagues to avoid over-isolation.
It also gives young parents the right to work from home without prior permission from their superiors until their child is 8 years old.