Photo credits: Undrey

The Portuguese government published their ‘Green Paper on the Future of Work’ setting priorities for the regulation of the labour market, including measures for remote and hybrid working to be offered as an automatic provision by employers.

Telework has suddenly experienced an upswing because of the measures implemented to protect people from the Covid-19 virus. Within a year, the percentage of employees working at least occasionally from home rose from 11 to 48 per cent in Europe. There is a growing consensus that telework is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels but is rather expected to become established. According to Stefano Scarpetta – Director of the OECD Directorate for Employment, Labor and Social Affairs –, the pandemic has come to show that ‘there are many jobs that can be done from home’ and that companies ‘had skilled workers’ to do so. In fact, 80 per cent of European employers require or are considering requiring more employees to work remotely.

Now, questions are being raised about the laws employers should abide by to accommodate flexible working in a post-Covid world. Portugal has led the way on this matter, with the publication of their ‘Green Paper on the Future of Work’. The document, which has been prepared since September last year, aims to regulate the new ways of working and to respond to the challenges of classifying labour relations, particularly for digital platforms and teleworking. Among many proposals, the paper outlines measures for remote and hybrid working to be offered as an automatic provision by employers. It highlights the importance of improving regulation and broadening the range of situations in which the right to telework must be preserved. The intention is to explore the potential of teleworking for integrated territorial development through the creation of jobs at a distance within regions with lower population density.  

But Portugal is not the first country to consider framing telework as a right. In the UK, reports suggest ministers are considering proposals to allow millions of workers to choose whether they want to carry on working from home after Covid restrictions come to an end. Similarly, Ireland has also become a hub for remote workers, with the country’s government revealing plans to make hybrid working available across relevant industries. Portugal’s deputy secretary of state for labour, Miguel Cabrita, urged EU countries to move fast with plans to regulate remote working, stressing quick action will maximise opportunities and minimise risks.

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