The Portuguese parliament is set to pass a new labor law that will significantly improve working conditions for telework. Bosses must, for example, compensate employees for the additional costs for electricity and internet incurred when working from home. And for all workers, home office or not, employers will be prohibited from calling them outside working hours, under threat of penalties.

Since the Corona crisis, Portugal saw a sharp increase in home working. But Portugal was also one of the first European countries to develop progressive laws governing the process of telecommuting. Recently, for example, employers were obliged to provide employees with the necessary work equipment to work from home. Now the regulations for telework have been reformed again in the interest of employees. These apply to all companies with more than 9 employees.

For example, companies must cover part of the costs that arise from remote working. These include higher electricity and internet bills. There are also improvements for parents with young children. Until the children are eight years old, parents have the right to work from home. To reduce the risk of employee isolation, companies must organize face-to-face meetings with their employees at least every two months.

Penalties for contact outside normal office hours

Under the new rules, employers may be subject to penalties if they contact employees outside of normal office hours. Employers who fail to comply with the rest period will face fines that can reach up to 9,690 euros. This legal measure covers all employees, whether they telework or not. “The employer is obliged not to contact the worker during the rest period, unless there is a case of force majeure”, states the legislative proposal of the Socialist Party (PS) on the “right to disconnect”. “Force majeure” refers to unforeseen or urgent situations, such as fires or accidents.

Portugal as an international center of teleworkers?

“Telework can be a ‘game changer’ if we benefit from the advantages and reduce the disadvantages”, Portuguese Minister of Labor and Social Security Ana Mendes Godinho told a Web Summit conference in Lisbon last week. Building a healthy telecommuting culture can bring additional benefits to Portugal, Mendes Godinho said, in the form of foreign telecommuters moving their jobs to Portugal in the future. “We think Portugal is one of the best places in the world for these digital nomads and remote workers to live, and we want to attract them to Portugal,” she said.

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