The Covid19 pandemic and lockdown forced people to work from home which further increased their working hours. Not just people suffered health issues, mental stress turned out to be a cause of distress as well. Portugal’s parliament on Friday approved new labor laws on working from home, introducing additional protection for employees who do their job away from company premises, reported AP.
The new rules are a response to the trend of more staff working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Portugal’s Socialist government said. It added that it sees benefits in working from home but wanted to adapt labor legislation to it.
- The regulations bring new penalties for companies that disturb the privacy of staff or their families, and obligate employers to compensate staff for work-related expenses incurred at home.
- Also, companies should avoid contacting workers outside office hours, except under exceptional circumstances, the new rules say.
- At least every two months, staff should meet with their superiors to prevent worker isolation.
- Also, companies should pay workers for additional personal expenses incurred at home, such as electricity or internet bills.
- Lawmakers voted down a measure that would have granted workers the right to turn off professional communication systems when off work.
Companies not complying with the rules will be liable for fines.
Ana Mendes Godinho, Portugal’s Minister of Labor and Social Security, said during a tech conference in Lisbon last week, “The pandemic has accelerated the need to regulate what needs to be regulated.”
Approval of the rules was one of the last measures taken by parliament before it is dissolved ahead of a snap election in January, when workers’ rights are likely to be one of the major issues. Portugal was the first European country to alter its remote working rules as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic in January this year.