When the Boss Calls Outside Regular Hours

When the Boss Calls Outside Regular Hours

Interestingly, Portugal recently passed legislation that outlaws the practice of some employers trying to contact workers after regular hours. Many bosses have been known to call their juniors directly, message them, send an email and do a host of other things outside the official work hours. Portugal's parliament prescribed a hefty fine for anyone who goes ahead to defy these new regulations.

The new laws are intended to strike a healthy balance in employees' lives, balancing between work and private life. Further, the law also includes other stipulations, directly responding to the modern-day shift leaning towards remote and hybrid workplaces. The latter situation has become more frequent in 2019-2022.

Under the new law, Portuguese workers were granted a right to refuse to do any remote work outside the regular hours. Depending on the prevailing circumstances, a worker can, however, choose to request such work if it suits him. Obviously, this would have to align with other factors advantageous to the worker. Fulfilling any remote duties also needs to be feasible in the employee's line of duty.

The regulations are also meant to curb the increasing phenomenon of burnout among over-worked staff. But there were other surprising features of the new landmark laws. For instance, if any employee incurs any unexpected expense as a direct result of working remotely at home or elsewhere, the employer is obligated to pay for such increased expenses.

As such, your boss would be obligated to pay for various seemingly ordinary expenses like electricity bills and gas. The new law also compels supervisors to meet face-to-face with members of staff under them every two months. Notably, the law doesn't apply to companies that employ less than ten workers on their team. Analysts also note that while the new law appears progressive, the Portuguese government didn't pass the right "to disconnect portion." If this were the case, Portuguese employees would have the right to turn off their work devices when the day ends.

The analysts note that the chances of passing such a law in a country like the US is significantly remote. This is because Americans, by nature, don't seem to warm up to the idea that anyone should dictate to them when they can call or receive calls from anyone else. Despite this, it's obvious that it has become ever more challenging to strike a reasonable balance between private life and work. This has been the situation worldwide, regardless of where people live. Interestingly, the US National Bureau of Economic Research recently reported that the average US employee's workday significantly stretched, increasing by 48.5 minutes in the days and weeks after the lockdown and stay-at-home orders began right across the nation.

To illustrate, almost 70% of US professionals who shifted to remote work in 2019-2022 admitted that they were forced to work even during weekends. 45% of the professionals said that, since that time, they are now forced to work many hours in the course of the week, much more than they ever did before. The statistics were gathered after Robert Half, a Los Angeles-based staffing firm, interviewed 2,800 employees to understand their situation.

Acknowledging this trend, one analyst noted that employers are now better off trusting employees to have their work done and keeping this faith no matter where their staff work, at home or in the office. It's also interesting to note that many employees worldwide have said that they prefer to keep working from home. This is because such an arrangement allows them to care for their families and prepare a more convenient schedule than when they have to work in the traditional office setting.

Erica Ariel Fox, a renowned writer at Forbes, pointedly says: "The new legislation dramatically demonstrates that a revolution aptly christened "work-life balance" is well underway." "At a time it's becoming the norm trying to reverse the equation, it's also becoming obvious that company cultures must significantly transform to embrace this culture," she adds. "Unless they do this, they'll helplessly watch their performance goals go up in flames," she concludes.

Some experts say that employers who suggest that a return to the traditional office is mandatory to ensure efficiency and productivity generally ignore the bigger picture. Here's the reason: Many observed that the novel work from home culture significantly boosted employee productivity by as much as 5%. Experts attribute the remarkable productivity boost to the adoption of new technology. Workers also spent less time commuting. The University of Chicago's Becker Friedman Institute for Economics study interviewed 30,000 Americans.