Portugal has introduced a new law that will means companies can be fined for contacting their employees after set working hours and there have been calls for a similar law in the UK
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Portugal will introduce a new law that bans employers from contacting workers outside of normal office hours.
Companies that do contact workers during evenings and weekends will face fines. It has been introduced due to the increased amount of people working from home during the pandemic.
Firms must also contribute to expenses resulting from remote working.
The law will not apply to companies with fewer than 10 employees. Companies are also required to organise meetings every two months, in a bid to tackle loneliness.
Many countries are expected to make adjustments to employment laws as the pandemic has changed many of the ways companies approach working.
But what about in the UK? What are your rights?
Can my bosses contact me outside of work?
The pandemic has made it far easier for people to contact you electronically as this is what remote working relies upon.
It can mean that the general end of day cut-off that used to exist with the simple act of going home has had its lines blurred.
But people have a human right to a private life, or rather a “reasonable expectation of privacy”. Bosses must respect this and you cannot be monitored everywhere.
It means that though no strict law says that you cannot be contacted outside hours, switching off and not answering emails outside of working hours should not be frowned upon.
Some companies may have their own policy on this.
Could we see something similar in the UK?
In June, Trade union Prospect wanted the government to include the ‘right to disconnect’ in an employment bill in the House of Commons.
This aims to ban bosses from “routinely emailing or calling” outside a person’s set working hours.
Prospect’s deputy general secretary, Andrew Pakes, said: “While digital technology has kept us safe during the pandemic, for millions of people, working from home has felt more like sleeping in the office, making it harder to fully switch off.”
The bill’s second reading is scheduled for March next year, but currently contains no mention of a right to disconnect.
Italy, Phillippines, Germany and France have similar laws already and Canada are considering the legislation.
MPs in Portugal rejected this proposal.
Of the new laws in Portugal, the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho, said: “The pandemic has accelerated the need to regulate what needs to be regulated. Telework can be a ‘game changer’ if we profit from the advantages and reduce the disadvantages.”