New law in Portugal forbids bosses from contacting workers after hours

Originally published at: New law in Portugal forbids bosses from contacting workers after hours | Boing Boing


Now do the USA!


I like the concept, but the email part is iffy to me…
Send me an email anytime you want, as long as you don’t expect me to read or respond to it outside of regular working hours. That’s the whole convenience of email, I can send it when it works for me, and you can respond when it works for you.

Although, reading the linked article, it’s not all that clear if email is included. So probably a moot point.


I think Spain got this a year or so ago also. I had to watch a training thing about it since I had some people in Spain. I wasn’t supposed to email them either although it was OK to communicate with them digitally out of office hours as long as I included “this does not need your attention until you start work tomorrow”

Since I’m in the US there was a lot of asymmetric communication like this, it would really be a PITA if I had to limit any contact to the joint hours we all share, or get up early to do it.


This is a good thing, and it’s a relief to hear any story about labor rights that doesn’t involve them being incinerated.

But this approach (making workers responsible for enforcement) is notoriously ineffective. It’s like the EU limits on working hours: even if you’re not exempt, and weren’t made to “voluntarily” waive your rights in your initial contract, you’re still not going to threaten your employer with a tribunal every time they make you stay an hour late.

Laws like this pose as pro-labor, but ultimately they’re based on the same old right-wing lie that workers can use the market to secure their rights. If that were true, no one would need legislation to spell out their rights in the first place.

If you have an effective union, you can take whatever rights you need. And if you don’t have a union, it doesn’t matter what rights you have on paper.


That’s the rub, though. Many bosses do expect a response immediately. I would say that most of my bosses over the past decade have (which, in fairness is only three people). All of these platforms have built-in features to limit off-hours communications or schedule them at times that work for everyone, but none of that matters if the boss doesn’t give a shit. I’ve been texted at nearly midnight over bullshit like Instagram. That contract didn’t last long.

ETA: Point is, unless there is legal protection and recourse for employees, bosses will always demand that employees fix the messes they’ve made immediately.


Hang on, I think my retirement is calling, and I need to get back to that midmorning nap.


This! Exactly, this!

They can expect WTF they like. In Portugal, they now know their expectations are false.


I think they’re being a bit too restrictive. In 30+ years I have gotten:

One series of calls from a drunk coworker who couldn’t believe I wasn’t the person he meant to dial. Wasn’t the boss, I don’t think the rule would apply.

One 6am? call because the plant system wouldn’t come up. (One time zone east of me.) Idling the factory was $55/minute, it doesn’t matter that it was their mess-up, it was perfectly reasonable to call.

One 6am call because “my computer isn’t here”. It wasn’t just his computer–somebody had cleaned out just about every computer in the building. Not directly my responsibility but getting the sales office up and running was an all-hands-on-deck for anyone with the knowledge to help and a bit of unskilled labor thrown in for things like unpacking equipment. (All the machines had to be custom-built.)

One completely meaningless call while I was on vacation. Scary (what hit the fan to prompt a call halfway around the world??) but ultimately a nothing.

One series of e-mails when I was on vacation and they discovered a Y2k38 bug the hard way. (Salesman fat-fingered a job into the 2060s and at that point the list wouldn’t load to go fix it.)

One series of e-mails when the VP did exactly what we told him not to do and blew up corporate e-mail. The domain registration never got transferred from me to the company, I was the only one that could fix it.

Thus one stupid call, the rest were fires that there was nobody else qualified to put out. Don’t bug the low level people outside hours makes sense, but higher up in the chain sometimes problems won’t wait.


Make it so the USA is not allowed to contact us after hours?

I approve of this service /s


Right? I’m sooooo sick of shutting down at 5 PM on Friday with 0 unread emails, only to log into 30-40, sometimes more (!), unread emails on Monday morning.

This expectation of accessibility to workers off-hours has gotten measurably worse during the pandemic. Kudos to any country taking measures to curb this BS.


OTOH there are times when I need to let my people know after hours that something is going on at work, usually health and safety related: we’re closed today because there is a hurricane heading our way; a brush fire has cut off access so stay home, etc. I hope the moratorium includes reasonable exemptions.


I’m happy for you that your after hours contact was reasonable and infrequent. I can guarantee that others have had much worse situations.
It’s fascinating that people tend to extrapolate from personal experience, and discount experience that differs from theirs.


Asking totally sincerely: why does this bother you?
I only ask because I don’t mind that I have emails when I log back in on Monday. But like I mentioned above, I appreciate the convenience of email as a “non-synchronous” communication medium.

Also, I work with people across quite a few time zones (entire US and territories) so it is unlikely I’d ever not have some stuff coming in outside my regular hours so this might skew my expectations…


Because it’s 30 things I have to deal with on Monday morning, practically designed to hijack the entire day. Also, our HR department officially frowns on people working outside of business hours. (Weird employer as that goes, I know.)


Oh, that makes sense.
I’ve been practicing making my “list” for the next day before shutting down in the afternoon, and it would be totally annoying to have 30 other things supersede that list. We get plenty of what we call “fire drills” around here, they push everything else aside. And are usually a monumental waste of time. I love when I happen to miss them…


I am not objecting to the basic concept, just saying they are taking it a bit too far. If you’re the guy that has to pick things up when the feces hits the air mover there will be after-hours calls.

I’d prefer something like an after-hours contact is treated as two hours of work plus whatever time it takes dealing with it–and this applies even if salaried.

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Eh, my work-issued phone remains in my basement home office when I hit the end of the workday. Over weekends, it usually exhausts the battery because it’s not on a charger. Keep things separated and don’t give in to pressure.

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