Portuguese Parliament has passed new labor laws, including ones which aims to assist workers in remote areas.
Under the new laws, companies will have to help pay for expenses incurred by remote working, such as higher electricity and internet bills. Employers could also face penalties for contacting workers outside of office hours.
The new laws also forbids employers from monitoring their employees while they work at home.
The amendments to Portugal’s labour laws have limits; they will not apply to companies with fewer than ten employees.
Euronews reported that a proposal to include the “right to disconnect” (the legal right to switch off work-related messages and devices outside office hours), was rejected by Portuguese MPs.
Portugal is the first country in Europe to change its remote working rules as a result of the pandemic, and it was also learnt that the new measures also aim to tackle loneliness, with companies expected to organise face-to-face meetings at least every two months.
Temporary measures introduced in January of this year made remote working a mandatory option, with a few exceptions. Employers were also obliged to provide the necessary tools for getting the job done at home. While remote working throughout the pandemic brought new flexibility to many, the need for further intervention became apparent through issues like unequal access to IT equipment.
Portugal’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho who spoke at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon last week, said the pandemic has accelerated the need to “regulate what needs to be regulated”.
“Telework can be a ‘game changer’ if we profit from the advantages and reduce the disadvantages.
“We consider Portugal one of the best places in the world for these digital nomads and remote workers to choose to live in, we want to attract them to Portugal.”