Amendments to remote work regime

Law no. 83/2021 dated of 6th December was published, amending the remote work regime foreseen in the Labour Code.

Right to remote work regime

An employee or another person engaged for a similar purpose may perform the respective activity in a remote work regime.

The remote work agreement may have (i) a limited duration of up to 6 months, automatically renewable for equal periods, or (ii) an undetermined duration.

The employee may refuse the remote work proposal presented by the employer without having to justify such refusal.

On the other hand, the employer may refuse a remote work proposal submitted by the employee and such refusal must be justified in writing.

Employees who have children up to 3 years old are always entitled to remote work, if compatible with the activities performed and provided the employer has the means and resources required for that purpose. The right to remote working under these circumstances can be extended to parents of up to 8 years old children in the following cases:

a) When both parents are in condition to perform their activities in remote work, as long as both exercise their right to remote work for equal and successive periods of 12 months;

b) In uniparental families or in situations where only one of the parents gathers the necessary conditions to perform his/her activity in remote work.

The employee to whom has been granted the informal caregiver status is also entitled to perform his work remotely, for a maximum period of 4 years, when his functions are compatible with remote work and if the employer has the necessary means and resources to do so. The employer may oppose the employee's request when the conditions provided for it are not fulfilled or based on imperative requirements of the company's functioning. If the employer refuses the employee's request, the case must be sent to CITE - Comissão para a Igualdade no Trabalho e no Emprego, for appraisal.

The adoption of the remote work regime depends on the execution of a written agreement, between the employee and the employer and due formal requirements must be observed.


Working tools and expenses

The employer is responsible for providing the employee with the equipment and systems necessary to carry out the work and for the employee-employer interaction.

The employer is also responsible for compensating all additional expenses that the employee probably incurs as a direct consequence of acquiring or using the PC and systems necessary for carrying out the work, including increased energy and internet network costs, as well as the costs of maintaining the mentioned equipment and systems.

The compensation is considered, for tax purposes, a cost for the employer and does not constitute income for the employee.

Energy and Internet costs are determined by comparison with the employee's year-on-year costs in the same month in the last year preceding implementation of the agreement.


Employer and employee’s duties

Without prejudice to the general duties, the employer must also observe the following special duties:

a) Inform the employee about the systems and devices’ implemented to accompany his activity;

b) Refrain to contact the employee during his rest periods;

c) Adopt the adequate measures to avoid the employee’s isolation, promoting periodic face-to-face contacts with his superiors and colleagues every 2 months (in case the remote work agreement does not establish any deadlines within this subject);

d) Guarantee or pay for the maintenance and repair needed for the systems and equipment used in remote working, regardless of such equipment’s property;

e) Consult the employee, in writing, before introducing amendments to the systems and equipment used in remote working, to the assigned functions or to any characteristics about the activities performed;

f) Provide the employee with the professional training he/she requires for the proper and productive use of such equipment and systems.

The employee who carries out functions in a remote work regime must comply, in addition to respective general duties, with the following special duties:

a)    Inform the employer, in time, about any equipment malfunction or default in equipment and systems operation used in the provision of work;

b) Comply with the employer’s orders regarding the safety of every information used or produced within the activities performed;

c) Respect and comply with the restrictions and constraints previously defined by the employer concerning the use of work systems and equipment provided by the employer for personal purposes;

d) Comply with the employer’s rules regarding work health and safety.

The employee has also the duty to move to the employer’s facilities or any other place designated by the employer for meetings, professional training or any other situation requiring their physical presence, for which the employer must communicate the employee’s presence requirement with a minimum 24 hours prior notice.

In this case, the employer must bear with the costs of the employee’s travel, if such expenses may exceed the cost of transport between the employee’s home and the place where he/she would normally provide face-to-face work.

Failure to comply with these duties may give rise to disciplinary offence and, eventually, civil liability.


Work health and safety

The adoption of the remote work regime is not allowed to employees working with hazardous substances and materials.

The employer must promote medical examinations prior to remote work implementation and, afterwards, annual exams to evaluate the employee’s physical and psychological aptitude to perform the activity.

The employee shall grant access to the place where he/she carries out his/her functions to the professionals designated by the employer in matters of safety and health at work, for the purposes of assessing the health and safety conditions at work.

The regime set forth in respect of labour accidents repair and professional illness shall now be applicable to remote work situations.  For this purpose, the place of work is considered to be the place chosen by the employee to usually carry out his activity and working time is considered the period during which the employee is demonstrably performing work.  


Duty of the employer to refrain from contacting employees

Except for force majeure situations, the employer is obliged to refrain from contacting employees during their rest periods.

Any less favourable treatment provided to an employee who has chosen to exercise the right to rest shall be considered discriminatory, particularly regarding working conditions and career progression.


Law no. 83/2021 will enter into force on 1 January 2022.

To access the full version of Law no. 83/2021, please click here.

For further information, please contact:

Pedro Ulrich

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