Portugal’s ban on work email off-hours

Written by R, a, p, h, a, e, l, , d, e, r, a, t, c, b, g, h, d x, y, a, l — It’s no longer just small business owners that must…

Portugal's ban on work email off-hours

Written by R, a, p, h, a, e, l, , d, e, r, a, t, c, b, g, h, d x, y, a, l

It’s no longer just small business owners that must consider whether employers’ phones or laptops are even more important to maintaining productivity than actual workers.

Several Portuguese cities (via city council members) have officially banned anyone from getting work emails off-hours.

Beginning in 2019, it’s illegal to contact employees about work via phone, computer or tablet in any of the country’s 17 major cities. There are several exceptions, like for physical emergencies, and security or privacy concerns.

Sporting event organizers aren’t the only ones getting in on the ban.

If you want your day off, you’re pretty much out of luck.

Under the ban, there are eight “unreasonable” exceptions, according to a local Bloomberg reporter.

The larger organizations that probably used the public calls often responsible for long lists of names.

One of the exceptions, Transport and Public Works Secretary Edgardo Paiva, said he doesn’t want it abused by companies and family members who regularly call during the time the ban is in effect.

Are there different policies for countries with differing time zones?

“Every city has different rules,” says João dos Santos Ribeiro, CEO of talent management platform Career Balancing. “In Shanghai, it’s even stricter, it’s illegal to contact employees at all on their phones on the off-hours.”

Almost all companies in the United States allow work email off-hours, even if it’s a no-no back home.

So employees must fill out an agreement that gives reasons for the off-hours contact, and explain that the work has to be done anyway, says Ribeiro.

Dos Santos Ribeiro says it’s too early to see if many Portuguese cities will follow suit.

“I was thinking of organizing a meeting in Portugal to see whether the idea will gain more popularity,” he says. “I’m not convinced by the argument that the ‘no off-hours’ (ban) is justified.

“One can say that human capital investments and time are better for each city.”

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