Portugal has new labour laws that make it illegal for employers to message staff after working hours, in a bid to provide people with a healthier work-life balance. Bosses could be penalised if the new rules are broken.

Portugal was the first country in Europe to change its remote working rules following the “explosion of home working as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.” The new laws are part of a broader legislation, according to Portugal’s Socialist Party government

Further rules forbid bosses from monitoring staff while working from home – though this will not apply to companies with less than 10 employees.

Businesses will also be forced to pay for increased WFH expenses, such as gas and electricity bills.

In a bid “to tackle loneliness”, workers must have frequent meet-ups with their boss, according to Euronews. Companies will be “expected to organise face-to-face meetings at least every two months.”

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The legislation has also provided more flexibility for parents of young children. They now have the right to work from home, without having to consult employees in advance, up until their child turns eight.

“The pandemic has accelerated the need to regulate what needs to be regulated,” Portugal’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho, said during the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon last week. “Telework can be a ‘game changer’ if we profit from the advantages and reduce the disadvantages.”

Mendes Godinho explained that Portugal could end up attracting foreign remote workers “seeking a change of scenery.”

“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,” she added.

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