Portugal Just Made It Illegal for Your Boss to Text You After Work Hours

Sounds like paradise.

Portugal might be on its way to becoming the premier destination on Earth for work-life balance.

In November, lawmakers in Portugal passed new labor laws meant to protect people from working overtime and during their off hours, including one law that bans managers from texting employees in their personal time.

According to the Associated Press, the new laws came in response to the growing population of people who work from home following the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the legislation, companies that have more than 10 workers could face fines for disturbing their employees during their downtime unless it's under exceptional circumstances, and will now have to compensate their staff for any work-related expenses they incur at home.

The only measure that didn't pass was one that would have granted workers the right to turn off any work-related communication systems while offline.

Father working from home while holding toddler
MoMo Productions/Getty

"Remote working has great advantages provided we control the disadvantages," Ana Mendes Godinho, Portugal's labor minister, told Lisbon's Web Summit in November. "The pandemic accelerated the need to regulate what already needed to be regulated."

As part of the new law, companies are also prohibited from monitoring workers at home, and workers and their employer must have a written agreement outlining the set working hours and their location of the work. Additionally, parents or caregivers looking after children up to eight years old now also have the right to work at home without the need for their employer's approval, the Financial Times reported. (Again, employers with fewer than 10 workers are exempt.)

While the law does not cover digital nomads working for businesses based outside of Portugal, officials are planning to add to its existing tax breaks meant to attract tech entrepreneurs and potential investors, the Financial Times Explained.

"People can both live in Portugal and work for the best companies in the world," Mendes Godinho added.

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