[Portugal] Post-work email ban is a gift for startups

[Portugal] Post-work email ban is a gift for startups
08 Dec 2021

In November Portugal made it illegal for employers to contact employees after work and established fines for anyone breaking the rule, Sifted reports.

The move was one of several new directives intended to improve remote workers’ welfare. Employers will also have to pay for extra expenses incurred through home working such as higher electricity bills and faster broadband.

This is part of Portugal’s strategy to reform its labour practices, following the COVID era shift to remote work; an unregulated area. 

The new laws further the country’s reputation as a haven for remote workers, with initiatives such as its advantageous tax rates and Madeira’s Digital Nomad Village helping attract people and money from around the world. 

Such employee-friendly laws could prove frustrating for startup founders, who often want to cultivate an intense 24/7 working culture or at least have the opportunity to reach out to their employees at the weekend if the need arises.

However, Portuguese startup founders and operators reportedly told Sifted that they believe these new directives could help improve startups’ productivity and attract more talent to the country, just by virtue of making people work less, not more.

New laws for a new way of working 

According to Ana Catarina Mendes - parliamentary leader of the Portuguese Socialist Party - this legislation was in the works before the pandemic, and then the need for it became all the more apparent in order to “respond to the perverse, undesirable effects of the rapid expansion of teleworking”.

“The new policies can be good, in my view, to make sure we are more balanced,” Diogo Oliveira - CEO of Landing.jobs - a tech jobs platform based in Portugal. “If we are more balanced and saner mentally, we’ll be more productive during the day, and we’ll eventually also scale our businesses better.”

“I do believe that this law is good at guarding us from burnouts,” Mila Suharev - co-founder of Casafari, a real estate startup - said. “It takes more rigour and creativity from us as founders and as leaders to ensure that you don’t grow at the expense of people’s mental health.”

Many believe that reduced working hours equal reduced output however numerous studies have demonstrated that things are different with ‘knowledge work’ and the Portuguese tech execs Sifted spoke to agree. 

“I don’t think it will reduce the innovation or pace of Portugal. Looking at evidence from Nordic countries, when working time is limited, people are more productive,” Oliveira said. 

Some do believe the laws were introduced to address older companies’ working practices and question whether they will have a significant impact on startups. 

Rules around flexible work and funding home equipment are mainstays of startups all over the world and Portugal is no exception. 

“We already had a rule that people don’t have to reply as soon as they receive an email,” Suharev said. “[This new law] just means we’ll have to write additional agreements regarding employees’ schedules.”

“It’s like creating a law to make the sun rise from the east and set in the west; a law for something that’s already happening in the tech ecosystem in Portugal,” Luís Cabral - VP of finance and HR at fashion tech startup PlatformE - sad.

Making Portugal a haven for remote workers

Although the new directives might not represent huge changes for Portuguese startups with remote working policies in place before the pandemic, execs do acknowledge that they make Portugal an even more attractive place for tech workers as far as the outside world is concerned.

“We’re actually seeing more interest in our company than ever before,” Suharev said. “We’ve even had feedback from our US candidates, who used to work 100-hour weeks at investment banking firms, that they’re happy to join us and move away from that.”

The new law presents Portugal as a place that prioritises workers’ interests and is willing to intervene and address what it sees as imbalances in its labour market practices. Coupled with remote worker-friendly initiatives like a 20 per cent flat tax on income for 10 years, it is easy to understand the appeal of the place for a new wave of digital nomads.

António Dias Martins - executive director of non-profit Startup Portugal - believes this is a step towards making Portugal more attractive to digital workers. “We have seen in the last years a big movement of digital nomads wanting to come to Portugal to develop in our country. And this type of legal environment is a plus.”


Source: Sifted

(Links and quotes via original reporting)

In November Portugal made it illegal for employers to contact employees after work and established fines for anyone breaking the rule, Sifted reports.

The move was one of several new directives intended to improve remote workers’ welfare. Employers will also have to pay for extra expenses incurred through home working such as higher electricity bills and faster broadband.

This is part of Portugal’s strategy to reform its labour practices, following the COVID era shift to remote work; an unregulated area. 

The new laws further the country’s reputation as a haven for remote workers, with initiatives such as its advantageous tax rates and Madeira’s Digital Nomad Village helping attract people and money from around the world. 

Such employee-friendly laws could prove frustrating for startup founders, who often want to cultivate an intense 24/7 working culture or at least have the opportunity to reach out to their employees at the weekend if the need arises.

However, Portuguese startup founders and operators reportedly told Sifted that they believe these new directives could help improve startups’ productivity and attract more talent to the country, just by virtue of making people work less, not more.

New laws for a new way of working 

According to Ana Catarina Mendes - parliamentary leader of the Portuguese Socialist Party - this legislation was in the works before the pandemic, and then the need for it became all the more apparent in order to “respond to the perverse, undesirable effects of the rapid expansion of teleworking”.

“The new policies can be good, in my view, to make sure we are more balanced,” Diogo Oliveira - CEO of Landing.jobs - a tech jobs platform based in Portugal. “If we are more balanced and saner mentally, we’ll be more productive during the day, and we’ll eventually also scale our businesses better.”

“I do believe that this law is good at guarding us from burnouts,” Mila Suharev - co-founder of Casafari, a real estate startup - said. “It takes more rigour and creativity from us as founders and as leaders to ensure that you don’t grow at the expense of people’s mental health.”

Many believe that reduced working hours equal reduced output however numerous studies have demonstrated that things are different with ‘knowledge work’ and the Portuguese tech execs Sifted spoke to agree. 

“I don’t think it will reduce the innovation or pace of Portugal. Looking at evidence from Nordic countries, when working time is limited, people are more productive,” Oliveira said. 

Some do believe the laws were introduced to address older companies’ working practices and question whether they will have a significant impact on startups. 

Rules around flexible work and funding home equipment are mainstays of startups all over the world and Portugal is no exception. 

“We already had a rule that people don’t have to reply as soon as they receive an email,” Suharev said. “[This new law] just means we’ll have to write additional agreements regarding employees’ schedules.”

“It’s like creating a law to make the sun rise from the east and set in the west; a law for something that’s already happening in the tech ecosystem in Portugal,” Luís Cabral - VP of finance and HR at fashion tech startup PlatformE - sad.

Making Portugal a haven for remote workers

Although the new directives might not represent huge changes for Portuguese startups with remote working policies in place before the pandemic, execs do acknowledge that they make Portugal an even more attractive place for tech workers as far as the outside world is concerned.

“We’re actually seeing more interest in our company than ever before,” Suharev said. “We’ve even had feedback from our US candidates, who used to work 100-hour weeks at investment banking firms, that they’re happy to join us and move away from that.”

The new law presents Portugal as a place that prioritises workers’ interests and is willing to intervene and address what it sees as imbalances in its labour market practices. Coupled with remote worker-friendly initiatives like a 20 per cent flat tax on income for 10 years, it is easy to understand the appeal of the place for a new wave of digital nomads.

António Dias Martins - executive director of non-profit Startup Portugal - believes this is a step towards making Portugal more attractive to digital workers. “We have seen in the last years a big movement of digital nomads wanting to come to Portugal to develop in our country. And this type of legal environment is a plus.”


Source: Sifted

(Links and quotes via original reporting)

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