Can employers contact you outside of work? Your rights explained after new Portugal law

Portugal has introduced a new law that means companies can be fined for contacting their employees after set working hours, and a similar law has been called for in the UK

Companies must also share in the costs that result from remote working (

Image: Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Portugal will introduce a new law prohibiting employers from contacting workers outside of normal office hours.

Companies that contact workers in the evenings and on weekends face fines. It was introduced as more people are working from home during the pandemic.

Companies must also share in the costs that result from remote working.

The law does not apply to companies with fewer than 10 employees. Companies are also required to hold meetings every two months to counteract loneliness.

Many countries are expected to adapt their labor laws as the pandemic has changed many of the way companies work.

But what about the UK? What are your rights?

Can my superiors contact me outside of work?

People have a human right to a private life
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Image:

Getty Images)

The pandemic has made it a lot easier for people to contact you electronically as this is the basis for remote working.

It may mean that the boundaries of the general end of the day, which used to be the simple act of going home, have been blurred.

But people have a human right to a private life, or rather a “reasonable expectation of privacy”. Bosses have to respect this and you cannot be monitored everywhere.

This means that while there is no strict law stipulating that you cannot be reached outside of working hours, turning off and not responding to emails outside of working hours shouldn’t be frowned upon.

Some companies may have their own guidelines on how to do this.

Could we see something similar in the UK?

In June, the Prospect union called for the government to incorporate the “right to segregation” into a labor law
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Image:

Getty Images / iStockphoto)

In June, the Prospect union called for the government to incorporate the “right to segregation” into a labor law in the House of Commons.

The purpose of this is to prohibit bosses from “routinely emailing or calling” a person outside of their designated working hours.

Prospect Deputy Secretary-General Andrew Pakes said: “While digital technology has protected us during the pandemic, working from home has felt more like sleeping in the office for millions of people, making it harder to switch off completely . “

The second reading of the bill is scheduled for March next year, but does not currently include any mention of a right to interrupt.

Italy, Philippines, Germany and France already have similar laws and Canada is considering legislation.

MEPs in Portugal rejected this proposal.

Regarding the new laws in Portugal, Minister of Labor and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho said: “The pandemic has accelerated the need to regulate what needs to be regulated. Teleworking can be a game changer if we benefit from the advantages “and reduce the disadvantages.”

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