In a fresh progressive move, Portugal has made it illegal for companies to call their employees after hours. It’s part of an initiative to set out the norms of the post-COVID workplace.
Debate in the Portuguese media and parliament spoke of a new “right to disconnect” for workers. “Employers must respect the privacy of the employee,” says the law, which was passed on Friday by the governing Socialist Party, a centre-left party equivalent to the ALP.
The new laws prohibit employers from running continual surveillance of workers working from home (e.g. webcam monitoring), and make employers responsible for paying a part of the utility costs for workers working from home.
The law does not apply to companies with less than 10 employees.
Digital workers in Portugal now have the right to work from home if they have a child under the age of eight. They also have the right to refuse to work from home, without needing to give grounds for refusal.
Remote work a new global norm for desk workers
On one estimate, 32% of all formally employed workers worldwide will be working at least part of the time remotely by the end of 2021, an increase from 17% in 2019. Over half of employees who work at a computer will be doing part of their work from home.
Yet this is a story of two worlds. Remote work is much higher in more wealthy countries. Over half of all employees in Europe and the USA will be working at least part of the time from home.
Thus the forecast is for an ongoing upward demand for IT hardware, both for employees themselves as well as for cloud systems and storage.
In regions like Latin America, by contrast, around 60% of all workers are not formally employed, more than 150 million people. Most of these workers are out in the street every day, buying, selling and offering basic services in order to survive.
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