Portugal Responds to Work from Home by Prohibiting Bosses from Texting After-Hours

On November 5, 2021, in response to a rise in work from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Portuguese parliament passed a law that prohibits employers from contacting employees outside of work hours. Employers who violate the law’s mandate may face penalties. The law will also require employers to pay cost of increased gas and electricity bills associated with employees working from home.

The Portuguese parliament is also expected to pass new rules that will allow parents of children under the age of eight to work remotely without first having their employer approve such arrangement. Further, rules have been proposed aimed at combatting loneliness by requiring that employers organize face-to-face meetings with employees at least every few months.

Notably, however, the legislature declined to approve a measure that would have given workers the “right to disconnect” by allowing them to turn off work devices outside of work hours.

These measures are aimed at attracting more remote workers — so called “digital nomads” — to Portugal. As we have previously reported, countries around the world, such as Italy, have been attempting to attract such remote workers to their jurisdictions. Indeed, Portugal’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho, recently said, “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.”