New Portugal Law Makes It Illegal for Employers to Contact Employees After Work Hours

The move is part of a legislative push to improve the experience of working from home, which has become a permanent reality for many during the pandemic.

A person is shown working from home.

Image via Getty/Justin Paget

A person is shown working from home.

A new law in Portugal aims to improve the work-from-home experience by barring employers from contacting employees after work hours have ended.

The move came as part of legislation that was approved earlier this month, per USA Today. In short, the law makes it illegal for employers to contact employers after work hours—via text, etc.—and will also see penalties handed out to those who fail to follow suit. 

At a recent conference in Lisbon focused on tech, Ana Mendes Godinho—Portugal’s current Minister of Labor, Solidarity, and Social Security—detailed exactly why changes surrounding remote working conditions are more important than ever in light of the (notably ongoing) COVID-19 pandemic.

“We consider Portugal one of the best places in the world for these digital nomads and remote workers to choose to live in,” Godinho said at the Web Summit conference, per Euronews. “We want to attract them to Portugal.” According to Godinho, remote work boasts the potential to be a true “game-changer” if the right steps are taken, particularly in pursuit of what she described as “[reducing] the disadvantages.”

Other recent legislation-backed changes in Portugal include requiring employers to provide compensation for work-related spending at home and meeting every two months to help curb potential effects of being isolated, while—as noted by the Associated Press last week—an attempted effort to protect employees’ rights with regards to turning off “professional communication systems” when not on the clock was struck down.

Meanwhile, here in the States, recent attention regarding the improvement of working conditions—whether for remote employees or on-site workers—has focused on the debate surrounding the four-day work week model. Several companies in the U.S. have tested or are testing out this model, including Kickstarter, who will next year run a pilot of the four-day week approach under which employees will receive the same pay they would under the traditional five-day week. An experiment in Iceland focused on the four-day model was deemed an “overwhelming success” earlier this year.

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