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June’s Lightbulb Moment from Inspired Legal

Inspired Legal
7 June 2022

Inspired Legal Reacts: Portugal makes it illegal to text your staff outside of normal working hours

Changes to Portugal’s Labour Laws are a direct result of the pandemic and the need for healthier work life balances in the face of the pandemic and remote working issues.  The new rules aim to reduce the disadvantages of remote working and to provide better regulation, but for now, Portugal’s rules only apply to those employing 10 or more staff.

Portugal bosses will face penalties for contacting their staff out of hours, but the rules do not go so far as to give staff the ‘right to disconnect’, i.e., to switch off work related messages and devices outside of normal working hours. So, they can contact staff if they need to. It will be for employers to decide if the matter is serious enough to risk the penalties.

Other amendments to Portugal’s labour laws include:

  • Employers to assist with employee remote working expenses, e.g., higher electricity and internet bills, but not water. Such costs can be written off as business expenses.
  • Monitoring of employees whilst working from home is now forbidden
  • The right for parents, of children up to the age of eight, to work from home without having to arrange it in advance with their employer
  • Face-to-face meetings with remote workers at least every 2 months – to tackle loneliness

So, what does Inspired Legal think of the new rules?

Well, who would have thought the world could change so quickly overnight? Even more so, who would have thought we wouldn’t go back to the way things were. The emergency of the situation we all found ourselves in led to new inventive ways of working. And, although there have been difficulties, adapting has been easier than most of us could have imagined.  9-5 is already yesteryear and it’s only been 2 years since we were all sent home to isolate.

Inspired Legal supposes this is how housewives of the past felt when they got their new washing machine.  Never again to be a slave of the Poss tub, rubbing board and wringer.

So, we’ve had the Iron Age, the Industrial Revolution, Globalisation, the Digital Revolution and now it seems we are well into the Remote Age. With every Age comes a settling in period.  The advantages to family (and pet) life and work life balance are obvious to most, but without regulation, it is easy to see how the opposite could happen. Mistrusted, even more overworked and even less balanced are just some of the disadvantages. Tackling those disadvantages will inevitably lead to new and improved UK Employment Laws and this cannot come fast enough in our view.

Portugal is certainly leading the way and providing timely solutions to modern day flexible working issues. The rest of the world would be wise to follow. Those who do not follow will surely find themselves struggling to keep their staff from jumping ship to better working conditions. Hopefully, the UK will continue to pull itself out of the dark ages and keep pace, or even lead the way, to a healthier remote future. Open minded employers will fare well in this new Age.

If you are an employer who is struggling to navigate the new way of working, please get in touch with Inspired Legal for a free HR health check on 0191 205 8020.

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