Portugal’s parliament has approved new labor laws on working from home

LISBON, Portugal — Portugal’s parliament approved Friday new labor laws on working from home, introducing additional protection for employees who do their job away from company premises.

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 said 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.

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.

Approval of the rules was one of 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.

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