Employers in Portugal will face penalties for contacting staff after work hours under new labour laws passed by the parliament to dissuade a practice that has become virtually a norm in the era of work from home because of COVID-19 pandemic. Approved on November 5, the laws are also meant to attract “digital nomads” to the country and entitle employees to increased expenses – such as gas, internet and electricity bills – while working from home.

Several other laws proposed by Portugal’s ruling Socialist Party to help workers adapt themselves to the new work-from-home culture failed to get enough support in the parliament, including one that would have allowed workers to switch off work devices under the “right to disconnect,” reports Vice.

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Other laws that made it through the parliament ban employers from monitoring workers’ productivity at home and to ensure face-to-face meetings with other employees at least once every two months. Employees who are parents will be given the legal protection to work from home until their children turn eight, without having to secure approval from management, reported the Independent.

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Portugal’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho, said last week that COVID-19 “has accelerated the need to regulate what needs to be regulated.”

An online survey by YouGov comprising 1,000 local workers in Northern Ireland during August found only 3% wanted to return to their office full time.

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In India, a study released by the National Association of Software and Services Companies said over 70% of organisations prefer the hybrid work model, with over 50% of the workforce likely to return to offices for up to three days a week starting 2022.

Another survey based on nearly 2,300 responses from individual employees and people managers found 63% of employees lacked confidence in their company’s strategy for return to work.