Portugal bans bosses from text messaging and emailing staff out of working hours

Portugal banned bosses from text messaging and emailing staff out of working hours as part of new laws dubbed “right to rest”.

The move is part of changes being introduced to improve work-life balance in response to an expansion of working from home in the country.

Companies with more than 10 staff could face fines if they contact employees outside their contracted hours.

There are also new rules on allowing staff with children to work remotely.

Parents will be allowed to work at home indefinitely without seeking prior approval from their employers until their child turns eight.

And companies may also have to contribute to higher household bills from being home-based, such as energy and internet costs.

Measures to tackle the isolation remote workers can feel are also included, with companies expected to organise regular face-to-face meetings.

However, some elements of the package were not approved by Portugal’s parliament, including a “right to disconnect” allowing staff to turn off all work devices out of hours.

Portugal’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho, told a conference in Lisbon last week that “telework can be a game-changer” but its growth needs to be regulated.

She also hoped the enhanced labour protections would attract more foreigners to the country.

“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,” Ms Godinho said.

Portugal already has a temporary resident visa scheme designed to attract entrepreneurs and freelancers. The Portuguese island of Madeira has a “digital nomad village”, with free wifi and office desk facilities.

Several other countries have introduced so-called “digital nomad visas”, as opposed to standard tourist permits, including Barbados and Croatia.