In today’s hybrid pandemic workplace, messages from your boss can sometimes light up your phone like the relentless climax of a Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular, regardless of the time of day. But this barrage of after-hours missives will no longer fly in Portugal, where the country’s parliament has just banned employer texts outside of an employee’s normal working hours, “except in exceptional circumstances” , reports the AP.
American workers dreaming of a better work-life balance as they adjust to messy office reopens might now look across the Atlantic with a little envy.
Text me after work? You will pay for it. The law aims to protect workers’ “right to rest”, which means that an employer cannot text, email or call an employee after the end of the shift, for 11 consecutive hours. The rule affects companies with more than 10 employees, and any employer who violates it faces fines. The SMS law, passed last Friday, is part of a larger body of law that applies to the remote workforce in Portugal.
It includes a number of other clauses:
- Workers with children under the age of eight do not need to seek approval from the WFH, as long as their duties make remote working possible.
- Businesses may have to pay a portion of the increased costs of their employees’ household utilities, such as gas, internet, and heating, due to remote working.
Please work here (remotely)!
Portugal is one of the many European countries to offer “digital nomad” visas to attract new residents. Earlier this year, an entrepreneur in the Madeira Islands, an autonomous region of Portugal several hundred kilometers west of Morocco, launched a small network of digital nomadic coworking centers. And yet here I am banging on my couch in a Brooklyn neighborhood aggressively not Madeira.
Portugal is in the process of restoring its image as a haven for remote workers who might be interested in relocating to a location with a favorable work-life balance and some of the highest vaccination rates in Europe. Ana Mendes Godinho, the country’s Minister of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security, said earlier this month during a speech, the BBC reported: “We consider Portugal to be one of the best places in the world for these digital nomads and remote workers. choose to live, we want to attract them to Portugal.
Portuguese legislation is similar to a 2017 bill passed in France, which gave workers the right to ignore work emails after working hours. If American workers are suffering from a massive case of FOMO compared to their European counterparts, it might be better to temper expectations and just get a burner phone for personal use. Speaking about the chances that a similar bill will pass in the United States, Veena Dubal, a law professor at the Hastings College of Law at the University of California, told the Guardian: “The corporate lobby would not allow never get anything like this passed… US lawmakers and courts have historically been very reluctant to interfere in business decisions.SB
Do you work in HR or do you have information about your HR department that we should know about? Contact Sam Blum via Signal and Telegram encrypted messaging apps (@SamBlum_Brew) or simply email [email protected].