HR professionals in the UK have been alarmed by recent news reports concerning new employment legislation from Portugal. Will ‘Right to Rest’ regulations be enacted across Europe…and maybe reach these shores?

The Lisbon government has long prided itself on its country’s appeal to ‘digital nomads’. But, as in the rest of Europe, lockdown has made working from home the norm in Portugal. As a result, the powers-that-be are increasingly concerned about the country’s ‘work-life balance’.

So great is their concern that a package of measures known as ‘Right to Rest’ went before Portugal’s parliament last month, and many of its provisions were passed.

As a result:

  • Companies with more than 10 employees can be fined if they contact employees outside their contracted hours
  • They may have to contribute to homeworkers’ household bills
  • And new parents on the payroll will have a statutory right to work from home until their child turns eight…with or without their employer’s approval

A proposed ‘right to disconnect’ which would have allowed staff to turn off all work devices out of hours wasn’t enacted, but companies were made responsible for countering isolation by providing staff with regular face-to-face meetings.

So, could it happen here?

We should note that Portugal’s vocal support for ‘digital nomadism’ puts it into a minority. Only a handful of countries have adopted this line, among them Barbados, Croatia…and not a whole lot of others.

In fact, the EU membership has generally been focusing its attention about the eventual return to Business As Usual instead.

But the ‘Right to Rest’ legislation isn’t an exclusive provision for software developers and web designers…no matter how it’s spun.

Homeworking is now well-established right across the employment spectrum, and it’s becoming even more prevalent as the so-called ‘fourth wave’ of COVID-19 infections takes hold of the EU member states. Governments, noting the difficulty of legislating the hours of individual workers, are turning their attention to company policy.

The result? ‘Right to Rest’ legislation for the UK – on the Portuguese model – isn’t a piece of sci-fi.

Of course, our long-established traditions of shift working and flexi-time are likely to give those HR professionals who have to deal with these issues a serious headache.

We’d therefore like to remind readers that LeavePlanner includes automated functions for the management of shift working. Our software will make it much easier to determine when it’s legal to call a homeworker…if the UK gets its own ‘Right to Rest’ legislation.

For any queries, call Steve on 01252 636 070 or email