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Portugal bans bosses texting staff after-hours (bbc.co.uk)
387 points by buro9 67 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 238 comments

(Portuguese here) Portuguese Parliament and Government publish law every day and afterhours[1], as a citizen I have to keep up with this. MPs believe they are doing a great job by producing more Law, instead of checking if what is in place is accountable. A common behaviour is when a "crime" case is well covered by the media, the first thing is said "we need to change the Law", trying to dodge blame.

I have been working remote for 17 years, and the teams I worked in, work asynchronously. It is fine to text, slack, discord and email after hours, people don't expect to get answers immediately, they will reply according to their schedule or contract.

One case is that employers have to compensate employees for electricity and utilities for working remote, in my case that is a cost of €10.58, I save much more for not commuting, financially and psychologically.

[1] https://dre.pt/dre/home

> I have been working remote for 17 years

This suggests you are likely a member of the professional class. A lot of labor regulation in the US (my country) is intended to protect the working class, not the professional class. Perhaps that was the intention of your politicians?

(This legislation does sound like treating a symptom, and not unlikely to have unintended detrimental consequences. But we should still empathize with and consider the needs of those workers less privileged than ourselves)

That the law might work in one case doesn't justify it as a good law - the law should consider at least some of the edge cases, especially if it's going to negatively impact such a large class of workers as the "professional class".

It's also unclear that there's no scenario in which the non "professional class" would benefit from being able to be texted by their boss.

Where in my comment are you getting that I think it’s a good law? Bluntly, with my very limited context (no, I didn’t read the article), it sounds like a dumb law. I take to heart original commenter’s complaint that their country’s politicians produce a large volume of dumb laws, I hope disgust with the median politician is something we can all agree on.

Hard to read your comment as anything other than defending the law as "something must be done" to protect the poor non-professionals.

'treating a symptom [not the cause]' is basically an idiom for 'at best meh'.

>> But we should still empathize with and consider the needs of those workers less privileged than ourselves

Why? Or else what? They might look for better jobs?

Drug use, crime, violence, short-term thinking, ad nauseum.

The majority of the population is working low-skilled, low-pay, low-satisfaction jobs. The people that do the shitty work (cleaning, cooking, serving, building, maintaining, etc.) are supporting the more privileged way of life.

Circumstances aren't bad enough yet for all of them to go full Roman and stab the professional ("laptop") class while they're walking in the street or working in a cafe; but that doesn't mean all that negative emotional tension brought upon the working class is simply isolated, and has no reverberating impact on the greater world.

However, were these circumstances left to deteriorate enough -- i.e. the negative emotions start overflowing and can no longer be subdued by drug use and other outlets, e.g. when one is starving -- then you're one internet meme away from getting your house molotov'ed and dragged out into the street.

I for one don't mind making life a little bit easier for the working class. In this case it would likely be preventing managers from texting un-scheduled workers: "I need you to come in tomorrow to fill someone's shift" (a request that usually entails one's job being on the line).

I vote left because I consider it this type of value proposition: If people have no help and no way out of poverty, they'll revolt, and that'll be bad for me.

But there is another, countervailing aspect. People think they have no alternative if they live in a society that provides no upward mobility.

I happen to live in a country (the US) that provides the greatest degree of upward mobility in the world, which is why immigrants from every other country come here. But there are people here who, out of a form of sanctimony disguised as "empathy", want to insist to people in service jobs that they are permanently stuck there and should view themselves as members of a oppressed class, rather than emphasizing (let alone providing) the opportunities for people to reach their highest potential.

We're not the UK, let alone Russia. I was a taxi driver. Numerous former bartenders I know own houses and work in tech. Friends who were barely employable ten years ago are now master carpenters, mechanics, or truck drivers with several trucks. And some are "professional", if you consider coding professional. I think it's more like plumbing without a license.

My point is that pity and putting people in a box with hoity-toity empathy and little handouts is degrading and belittling, and saying they have to have those jobs forever is essentially a backhanded way for people to seem empathetic but actually guarantee that the existing hierarchy remains.

I think this is slippery slope / weird thinking. The idea is to give those folks the actual freedom to "level up" as you put it. It's hard to do that if your working multiple minimum wage jobs, or just 60hrs a week at one. The USA is incredibly anti-worker / anti-mobility, despite the great propaganda we receive our entire lives here. Go overseas, talk to folks, and widen your viewpoint a bit. You'll realize a lot more folks are happy in places like Australia than the USA. Way cleaner and safer too, also better food! A lot of immigration as well!

A lot of the USA is setup to unfortunately keep a certain amount of folks in a perpetual system of being poor, while telling them it's way worse in other countries (we're the best!). It keeps them too busy to pay attention to anything but survival paycheck to paycheck, which is good for the ruling class.

It's also funny that you are literally degrading / belittling (while saying regulations meant to protect them are degrading) people who are in jobs that you view as below you (service), but would likely miss a great deal if folks didn't do them.

But hey, you seem big on anecdotes, here is some data: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Social_Mobility_Index

Literally, the USA is ranked 27 in upward mobility in the world. Stop spouting propaganda and go talk to some real folks in service jobs. Ask them what their schedule is, what their home life is (are they taking care of their parents, others with chronic conditions, do _they_ have a chronic condition, etc.), and get to know them.

Go overseas if you can, and see how the rest of the world lives. You'd be surprised how good other countries have it, even the "service" class in those countries, as you would put it.

I couldn't agree more about the "Ra Ra America is the Greatest" attitude as being ignorant and unfounded - and unfortunately abundant among people who've never traveled and seen what other countries offer their citizens. And a lot of that is sustained by a propaganda machine geared toward small-minded, untraveled and ignorant people who can't differentiate.

I'm not one of those. I've been to more than forty countries and lived a year or longer in a dozen of them. I've been enmeshed in societies that are strictly founded on familiar and tribal ties, as well as ones that are strictly postmodern and corporate, and some that are socialist-leaning. Some have been communist in policy but have incredible personal ambition embedded and passed on (e.g. Vietnam). Some are essentially capitalist but yearn for work-free socialism (e.g. Argentina). All have complaints according to their own drawbacks. I've also joined left-wing rallies and still made friends with people from all sides of the spectrum in places I've lived.

As a kid who turned 21 under 9/11 and the advent of the Patriot Act and the endless wars in the middle east, I've hated America for a lot of reasons, but one thing I can't hate it for is the "propaganda machine" that tells all comers that it is possible to succeed here. As far as I've observed, there are only a few other countries where people are as free to re-invent themselves, detach themselves from their birth circumstances, and become whoever they want to be. [edit: The new American obsession with attaching your identity to your birth circumstances is anathema to me and most other children of immigrants, and smacks of "privilege" - our families view our history as a challenge and struggle to get over it]. Western Europe, Aus/NZ, Canada. But there, you still don't have the benefit of an economy that rewards achievement. You might find that a matter of personal taste, but to me, the valuing of achievement is something I've only seen in eastern cultures (Thailand, Vietnam, China) outside the US. The other Western countries besides the US seem to have lost their taste for it.

That's why I say - from my own imperfect point of view - that the US does offer a combination of personal and economic opportunity that doesn't exist in any other country.

So I apologize if you took my statement as a rehash of some propaganda, but hopefully this clarifies that it's a precise opinion I came to after a great deal of hating much about America while also admiring it.

> I happen to live in a country (the US) that provides the greatest degree of upward mobility in the world

As far as my short search has lead me this appears not to be true. US doesn't seem to be in top 20 which is dominated by Europe.

That is interesting -- can you share your sources? There are, of course, a lot of ways of measuring upward mobility:

* inter-generational upward mobility -- are you richer than your parents?

* intra-generational mobility - has the older you climbed to a higher position than the younger you?

For the above, it makes a difference whether you are talking about absolute gains or relative gains (e.g. bottom quintile to top quintile).

And also whether you are measuring income or wealth and if income, whether you are looking at after tax income or market income. With wealth, it depends very much on how you measure things like government benefits.

Finally, mobility measures need to be taken across the business cycle rather than just, this year versus 5 years ago.

It's not a simple issue, and I've seen studies that go either way on this, but I'm always interested in getting more data on this important topic.

Good post, and I have a side note that I think is universally overlooked right now. I say this as a Gen Xer and part of the first generation to know we'd have less of an easy path than our parents:

Upward mobility, richness of life, and success, has absolutely nothing to do with how much better other people did in the same time period. I went from $20k debt and dropping out of college to $300k savings. Am I supposed to be angry that someone I know went from a $3M inheritance to $300M? Why should I care? My own upward movement hasn't been hampered by theirs. I don't need anything they have, or envy it. If anything, they envy me because I earned what I have.

In real terms, I've already moved up far more than they have. This idea that an increasing divide makes upward mobility for the lower echelon less meaningful is just totally false. The difference between being able to buy a place versus the difference between how big a place you buy is only one of degree. The difference between $300k and $300M is aesthetics. But the difference between $3k and $30k is survival.

So when I'm talking about upward mobility in America, I mean getting out of debt and poverty... getting to a place where you can have a good life. Too many people think it means comparing yourself to or becoming Elon Musk. And that's a credit to America too, because they've never lived in another country where even basic survival is difficult.

Europe? Upward mobility?

Please do post your source. In my own experience and research, that is very limited in Europe.

I would argue that there are actually more disincentives than incentives for class mobility in Europe (which is where I live).

> I vote left because I consider it this type of value proposition: If people have no help and no way out of poverty, they'll revolt, and that'll be bad for me.

Wow, that's a wonderful mechanism to construct a morality. /s

I'm a fellow Yank, and I've been tipping takeout orders ~18% every time because I want my local restaurants to remain open. Life sucked when everything was closed, and since I'm (currently) in the "laptop" class I figure I can afford to add $2 to my burrito order.

Maybe that's ugly self-interest, too, but at least I think I'm being consistent with my larger beliefs, which doesn't seem true in your case.

No, I worked in the service industry for a decade, so I always tip well - and not only because I'm worried someone will spit in my drink. But really, if you want credit for being a better person I'll refer you to my original point; self-interest. The only difference is, I'm worried about a riot and you're worried about what people think of you.

[edit: not what the workers at the bar will think of you. What the other diners at the table, or the people on the internet will think, when they ask themselves whether your motives are pristine. Trying to prove the righteousness of your self-negation is, uh, not exactly self-negating is it?]

Not everyone can have a better job. Sorry but your comment reveals how little empathy we, software engineers, can have at times.

>> Not everyone can have a better job

I'd counter that your comment reveals disdain for people who you wrongly assume can't improve their skills or economic outlook.

I could make a long list of people I know who taught themselves new skills and leveled up to new jobs - code or otherwise - without the need for "empathy" from someone who was certain they were less "privileged" and therefore should be pitied.

I read that remark as, "in the grand scheme of things, we can't all have it good." - not as anything marked with disdain.

As for my own opinion? I don't think there's a stone software engineers are cut from, but I don't think most people could be effective at working on technology without dramatic improvements in a few different key areas between analytical (data driven) thinking and layered abstractions.

It's not that these things can't be learned - I certainly didn't learn these from my blue collar parents. It's that it takes significant investment of time that many adults can't dedicate.

I view us (coders) as plumbers or car mechanics; and I'm certainly not a good plumber, and only a very primitive mechanic. One will pay me $200/hr for my time fixing software and I'll pay them $200/hr back to fix my car or my plumbing.

Anyone can learn a trade if they take the time to study and become proficient. I don't think it requires "privilege". Maybe twenty years ago you grew up too poor to have a computer in the house, but you certainly had a car or a toilet. And so some people learned to be proficient at fixing things, and other people ...? Not so much. But that's okay, because as you said, not everyone can be effective at working on technology.

However, that doesn't mean that the world needs to bend over backwards for people who can't get proficient at something.

So for the 97% of humanity that are worse off than american software engineers, you think they are just not trying hard enough?

You might have way too high an idea of the place software engineers occupy in the economic and social hierarchy. We're trash compared to the money people.

I just choose not to be angry about it, so I hope the guy serving me a burger chooses not to be angry about my job placement too; I'm more than happy to tutor him.

Any individual can get a better job. But not every individual. There aren't enough good jobs, and society would collapse if all the retail workers, bin men, teachers, nurses, etc suddenly became software engineers.

Okay, but you're disregarding both new hires and seniority. I know a garbage man who's a poet and makes $100k a year, with health care and a pension. Other people who have that job for a year or two might decide to move into a different field. There are more people being born all the time. They start somewhere and move on. I served when I was in my 20s. Now I'm served by people in their 20s. So?

Others already replied in useful ways that reflect my thoughts here.

I know some people can and will make it, but it’s definitely not for everyone or even the majority of them, especially here in southern Europe. Think mums with kids doing 9 to 6, men in their 50s doing shitty jobs in shitty companies, young professionals living with their parents because they can’t afford to pay rent. Yes, they could go abroad and reinvent themselves, making a substantial improvement to their quality of life, etc. But in the meantime I like that our governments take steps to regulate overworking and crazy demands for those who don’t give a shit about their work beyond getting their salary and moving on with their life. I empathise and understand their context, even if I’m in a quite different situation. That’s empathy, not pitying others because they are less privileged than me. Maybe they are even happier than I am, who am I to judge?

Reasonable employment standards aren't "pity." Nor is empathy, actually.

This line of thinking falls apart if you think about it for more than 30 seconds. Unfortunately, people don't do that and end up creating legislation with this assumption... That people could just get better jobs (and the implication that they don't because they're lazy).

It makes no sense, though. Who is going to clear tables and wash dishes? Who is going to pick fruit? I picked fruit as a teenager. It sucked. I hated every minute of it, but it has to happen. Your suggestion seems to be making it suck more than it has to in the name of what... motivation? Why not make it possible for every member of our society to live a decent life, even if they happen to not have the necessary faculties (not to mention money, support and time) to be an engineer?

Nothing of the kind.

I think everyone should have to pick fruit, wash cars, wait tables, drive taxis, stock shelves, work construction, answer phones, cook at a fast food restaurant, or join the military.

Not go to college and eat on their parents dime.

And they should do those things as a life lesson on their way to becoming a doctor, an engineer, an artist, a jurist, a philosopher or a writer.

This is how life is actually discovered. People who are born rich never do anything of value.

Bitching about picking fruit, while you're doing it, is fine. But then let's get on with it and stop viewing it as if it's a permanent form of oppression.

FWIW I'd definitely hire someone who picked fruit and could write decent code versus someone who had a CS degree.

I generally agree with most of what you have said on this page, but I think you are being too hard on rich people here. Newton, Gates, Zuckerberg off the top of my head. People are complicated and there are a lot of different paths.

Zuckerberg does not belong in the same complimentary sentence as Newton. Newton pushed humanity forward, Zuckerberg is ripping society apart for money.

Thanks for clarifying. I took a less charitable interpretation of your view, can't disagree with this though!

> I picked fruit as a teenager. It sucked. I hated every minute of it, but it has to happen.

And I dug holes by hand and loaded trucks with tractors.

I've started to realize that when I share that fact with people, they either look down on you as an animal, or they realize you can do more than close Jira stories.

I don't think the second group is common.

Personally, working non-software jobs has been hugely helpful for me in my professional work. I've learned things from every "lesser" job. Many people who have only had professional jobs, especially those in the former group you mention, have no idea how limited their perspectives are.

The omnissiah hasn't quite reached us yet.

You think you'll keep your quality of life if literally no one wants to lay bricks and stack shelves?

Let people's lives be miserable enough and they'll stab you and eat you instead of working.

Or else you are not a good person.

In tech jobs, you probably are in a bubble. Most jobs won't have such respecting bosses, it's pretty much the norm in many places to demand unpaid work after-hours. The move to remote work has worsened this problem because the line between work hours and off-work hours is even more blurred.

It's doubly hard to maintain boundaries if you actually enjoy the work you do. Too easy to come home and just keep doing it. Not the healthiest though. I think the blurring of work/personal time is a mixed bag. Sure my personal life gets interrupted occasionally, but there's also an expectation from many employers that you're going to be conducting more personal business during business hours too. In my jobs, I've typically been able to manage the work invading personal time downwards towards zero reasonably well while taking more advantage of (and appreciating) a more flexible business environment.

Establishing boundaries is an art. Not to be a cynic, but it's not only the boundaries with the boss. The significant other is the main competitor for your time on a weeknight. I've known a lot of people who said they just wanted to go radio-silent so they could spend more time with their kids, only to realize they truly wish they could be left totally alone for five minutes - or a year. You have to give some serious weight to your own sanity. Make it clear that if you go insane, none of this work is going to get done.

I haven't had a day without a work phone call since 2004. Even when I was living off the grid in the Australian outback for a year, I had to find places to check messages, and dialup modems to commit code changes. I'd never hire someone I couldn't call when I needed them, just like my employers would never hire me if I couldn't be called. Just the way it is. I like my freedom more than most people, so I find ways to balance their [my clients'] needs against my autonomy.

> I'd never hire someone I couldn't call when I needed them

And that is perfectly fine as long as you pay employees for being on call.

> I'd never hire someone I couldn't call when I needed them

So glad I don’t have to work for someone like you.

If you work asynchronously, it should be no problem to schedule your messages within the working hours of the recipient.

I have many group slack, group text, and WhatsApp channels where I don’t even know the working hours of all the people in them.

I have other channels where I do know everyone and also know there is literally no overlap in natural working hours of all the recipients. My leadership team channel (as an example) has members in India, Switzerland, and both coasts of the US.

Okay so all you need to do to comply with this law is collect working hours.

How would that help? (Or maybe “what does that mean?”)

The net effect for some is likely to be “to ensure compliance, make sure to never employ someone from Portugal.” To the extent that is the outcome, Portuguese workers are harmed.

It just means respecting when your coworkers work and scheduling messages to them in those bounds. It’s not that complicated.

Can I ever send a slack message to my slack group: #foo-leadership or an email to the equivalent membered foo-leadership@bar.com d-list where all people on that team are working “normal” local hours and someone in that group is working in IST (UTC +5.5), someone else in CET (UTC +1), someone else in EST (UTC -5), and someone else in PST (UTC -8)?

It seems to me that I can’t, but perhaps you see a way that’s “not that complicated”?

You have clearly never worked in a large geographically distributed group.

And build a simple system that doesn't directly forward messages to each recipient outside their specific working hours. Thus, your colleagues halfway across the country may get your message immediately, but those halfway across the globe won't see it until they get to work again.

Unrelated question. How is Portugal in terms of taxes for people working remotely as contractors (for the US in my case)? I'm an Italian citizenship and I was considering Portugal as my next stop.

Look up the NHR program, you can probably structure this in an extremely tax efficient manner. 0% tax for the first 10 years.

This seems, pretty easy to fullfill technical wise.. just store the work-messages in dbs and trigger the send, when the person switches the app into work-mode.

Can we open up a broader discussion about Portugal's culture of work? On one hand this sends a message that Portugal cares about work/life balance for everyday citizens. On the other my general impression of Portugal's economy is that it's one of the weaker members of the EU. High debt, not a huge driver of innovation, wealth, etc. These are all just loosely held beliefs kicking around in my head. I'm not attached to any of them or sure that they are even accurate.

For an even better example look at the different German states. Bavaria with its rich BMW factories versus Saarland where anybody who does not work in Luxembourg is poor as a mouse. Same German population, same working culture and methods, but completely different outcomes.

One state is rich another one shows a deficit and there has been no job creation. If the German model is so good why cant Germany reproduce it in every part of the country?

At the same time Volkswagen Autoeuropa an automotive assembly plant, located in the city of Palmela, near Lisbon, showed higher productivity than some sites in Germany.

The problem with "working culture" analysis is that they miss the underlying processes, patterns and local constrains most teams are forced to work it.

> If the German model is so good why cant Germany reproduce it in every part of the country?

Capital and supply chains are not spread evenly across the country... and that's a major factor.

If culture was the only thing then you'd expect people at the top of a mountain to have the same level of life as someone living in a city. That's obviously not going to happen in any case.

Well, that's one problem... another is that people often use it as an excuse for thinly veiled prejudice.

There is not problem with the "culture of work" if by that you're implying people there are lazy and don't work as hard as in richer countries. The fact is that "hard work" or productivity is entirely uncorrelated with compensation. Simply the compensation of labour in a market is the equilibrium value, which because of the power imbalance between worker and owner means the least value the owner can get away with paying (or minimum wage), and in Portugal owners can get away with paying less than in Germany, and in Serbia less than Portugal, and in Bangladesh less than Serbia. Nothing to do with intrinsic work culture.

EDIT: Also the Euro is a disaster for countries like Portugal. To be clear: joining the EU was excellent (Portugal is a totally different country now than it was before we joined), but joining the Euro was disastrous. It bound together countries like Portugal and Germany to the same monetary policy, even though they had/have completely opposite interests. Well guess who had it their way x) Despite this massive crippling of sovereignty, which reared its ugly head when the time came to handle the European crisis in 2011, Portugal reaped no benefit from the monetary union. Closer integration or common fiscal policy never happened, and Portugal was stuck in a monetary union without a political union (the EU is barely a democracy, but that's a whole nother can of worms). Germany meanwhile benefits fabulously from its position as the foremost surplus country in Europe, in monetary union with comparatively weak economies.

> but joining the Euro was disastrous. It bound together countries like Portugal and Germany to the same monetary policy, even though they had/have completely opposite interests.

I've often wondered about this. The US Dollar binds together poor states Alabama and rich states like California, but I don't think I've heard people arguing that two states being on a common currency contributes to the impoverishment of Alabama.

I'm sure there are important differences between the Euro and the Dollar that account for this difference in perspective, but I don't know what they are.

This is because there's not just a monetary policy union, there's also a fiscal policy union in thr US and a shared underlying nation state identity that enables it. Essentially the federal taxes of the richer states support the poorer states.

For an even better example, see India where the poorer states get very large subsidies and investments and quite a few have had substantial quality of life improvements over the years. People argue that Europe can't have a union because of its diversity but India is far more diverse in terms of languages, culture, religion and politics and has still managed to forge a nation atate.

In Europe, the rich countries essentially keep their own taxes and don't transfer and invest taxes in the poorer ones, so being tied to a strong currency trips up the poorer states badly - all the disadvantages of being a weaker area tied to a strong currency without any mitigation factors beyond the right to move away.

This completely ignores structural development funds, of whom Portugal is a huge net beneficiary. Those funds are paid for by member state contributions, which come from… taxes!

There is more money transfered from London to Cornwall daily than from Germany to Portugal in a year.

EU structuran development funds are ~34 billion a year for all of EU. Unemployment and other benefits in UK alone are 200 billion.

the amount of fiscal transfer that happens withing any nation is huge: all the unemployment benefits, infrastructure spending, salaries of government employees working in poor areas, etc.

Beneficiary? If you are a Portuguese citizen, you will be shocked when you learn how much corruption goes around those EU funds. I saw it with my own eyes in the area of suicide prevention. I can even point names ( just have to open older emails and chats)

Governmental spending is inherently inefficient, but is better than no spending - and corruption is a national problem. I get shaken down by the GNR - is that the EU’s fault? The President da camara likes to be given a gift to grant planning permission - is that the EU’s fault?

Conversely, I have seen successful implementation of multi-billion euro projects.

Isn't that the government's and even the population's fault?

Why can Germany invest money so much better than half of Europe? Same for Nordic countries.

I've been thinking about it a lot. It has to be culture. Germans in the government actually care about their own country and countrymen. They still line up their own pockets, mind you, but not as bad as Eastern Europe, for example.

And mental healthcare in Germany is absolute garbage, by the way. Which is pretty weird considering how much they invest into it.

But again, culture. You're suicidal - you're weak. You don't have ADHD, you're just lazy. Homeopathy is real. Vaccines are dangerous. Etc.

> I don't think I've heard people arguing that two states being on a common currency contributes to the impoverishment of Alabama.

It’s interesting because people don’t talk about this more. For example a lot of bitterness about the SALT deduction in the US essentially boiled down to living in a rich or poor state.

Likewise if you look at inflation, it’s hitting poorer states hardest (probably because they’re more dependent on energy due to auto-oriented urban planning decisions, seasonal climate changes and energy policy). So what do we do? Set fiscal policy so Alabama has less inflation or so New York reaches full employment?

I assume it comes down to the "monetary union without a political union" part. I think you could make some of the same arguments for the United States but Alabama and California have a stronger political union so there is less (but certainly still some) chance for California to exploit the relationship by tilting the monitory policy to favor itself. Having said that, I don't understand how EU-level policy is set. Are EU parliamentarians even directly elected?

The name European "Parliament" is a bad joke. I'm not aware of any other parliament in existence without the power to propose laws! The executive AND legislative power is in the Commission, which is unelected, unknown (for 95% of the public), and mostly unaccountable bureaucrats.

Regarding monetary and economic policy, believe it or not it gets worse. Much power lies in the "Eurogroup", an informal body of finance ministers of member countries which meet behind closed doors, as does the council by the way. Why do we not require our servants (that's what politicians are, supposedly) to have their meetings livestreamed for the public again?

Certainly the Parliament should be stronger (and will become so as it has a democratic mandate), but it is the Council, not the Commission, that is the supreme policy making body of the EU. The Council is made up of representatives from member state governments, which are of course democratically elected.

Yes. European citizens vote for their MEPs in elections. Many choose not to vote, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t democratically selected.

The US has a single federal fiscal policy and regulatory oversight.

The surpluses generally are divided and Alabama etc. are subsidized directly, or with things like military bases.

Most US states are too small to have their own currency.

US Monetary Policy also not in the pocket of Cali or NY i.e. the important players, like Euro is in the pocket of Germans.

This is essentially because in order for a currency union to work with different countries, you need a 'hard currency' - not a lot of funny money being printed. Germans are 'extremely scared' of France/Italy/Spain pumping the printing press and filling their economies full of dollars. So the Euro is a fairly hard currency, and when they do more speculative things, Germany has to be ok with it. It just so happens that Germany's economy is more naturally suited to this, while the others are not. So they win big.

The US Fed has been printing a lot of stimulus, which ideally should help the places that need it more, a little more, but in practice that might not be true.

I would argue in the age of digitization, it might be possible for European countries to go back to sovereign currencies and facilitate efficient transfer through exchanges with 0 fees, that kind of stuff.

Sweden and Denmark (Finland/UK/Switzerland) have their own currencies and they do just fine. You could still have the Euro for business transactions.

Nations that have gone bankrupt generally do so because they have to issue debt in a currency they don't control. Portugal does not really control the Euro, which means if there's a crisis, they have to beg France/Germany to help or change Euro policies. Not good.

> US Monetary Policy also not in the pocket of Cali or NY i.e. the important players, like Euro is in the pocket of Germans.

In the past 20 years the main job of the ECB has been to monetise Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French debt.

> but I don't think I've heard people arguing that two states being on a common currency contributes to the impoverishment of Alabama.

It does, but it's compensated in large part by Alabama receiving massive transfer payments from the federal government. Without a net flow of funds into it, its economy would be in the pits.

Precisely! California and Alabama are in a monetary and customs union AND in a fiscal a political union! That's why it works. Federal money flow is net positive into Alabama and net negative out of California, as it's only natural between regions of a country. There's no tax havens inside the US for states to steal tax revenue from one another. There's a congress and a president, elected by all (the European Parliament is a bad joke). The US Treasury emits bonds in the name of the entire country. Can you imagine if each state had to emit it's own bonds, lol! Imagine each state being on its own, and Alabama trying to get finance by selling Alabama t-bills on Alabama credit? But despite this using the same currency and having a single market. That's more or less Europe right now.

> There's no tax havens inside the US for states to steal tax revenue from one another

Yes there are; heck there are even tax havens within states for localities to compete that way.

>Imagine each state being on its own, and Alabama trying to get finance by selling Alabama t-bills on Alabama credit?

One could argue that this would create a significant incentive for Alabama to improve its structural deficits and be more attractive to investors rather than being one of the largest federal government recipients among the American states.

In fact I think if one looks at Europe overall this is largely what has happened. Being in one monetary union has driven a lot of countries, in particular in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, to clean up their structural deficits. A lot of EE countries have gone from being much poorer to be on par or already richer than SE. I have trouble with this Euro-critical narrative, when a country like Estonia, coming out of the Soviet Union impoverished, is now more prosperous than Portugal.

Some of the more well governed and prosperous Latin American countries have pegged their currency to the US dollar voluntarily in the past.

> Can you imagine if each state had to emit it's own bonds, lol

states actually do emit bonds, as do counties and even cities

Yes, but the federal government is vastly larger than the states, and it gets financed via nation-level bonds.

I see what you are trying to say and the issue of lack of European fiscal solidarity is real, but there's a lot of big whoppers in your post, so you may want to argue somewhat differently. Let's go through them:

> California and Alabama are in a monetary and customs union AND in a fiscal a political union!

Kind of. They are both subordinate states to the Federal government which taxes and spends far more than any state, so that third actor -- the Federal government - is the gorilla in the room, and needs to be included.

> Federal money flow is net positive into Alabama and net negative out of California

No, both California and Alabama are famously receiving states. California used to be a donor state in the past - Governor Schwarzenegger famously complained about getting back 70 cents for every dollar, but that number was rapidly increasing even in his tenure and about 5 years ago it exceeded 100 and it still continues to rapidly rise. So now both California and Alabama are firmly in the receiver bucket. In fact, all states can be in the receiver bucket with the Federal government running large deficits.

> There's no tax havens inside the US for states to steal tax revenue from one another.

This is exactly what the SALT deduction is about as well as tax-free state and local bonds. One of the reasons why states borrow so much is because you do not pay federal income taxes on the interest (in most cases).


But to understand that you need to know about state borrowing, which takes us to the next point:

> Can you imagine if each state had to emit it's own bonds, lol!

States and local governments emit quite a lot of bonds. California owes about 70 Billion in bonds outstanding, but that doesn't even count things like "capital appreciation bonds" and other types of instruments it sells. See here:



Even individual cities and counties sell bonds, as do port authorities, etc.

> Imagine each state being on its own, and Alabama trying to get finance by selling Alabama t-bills on Alabama credit?

Yes, we showed the bonds that California sells and Alabama also sells bonds. Each state has debt, it's various bonds are given a credit rating, etc. FYI Alabama's latest bonds have a credit rating (AA+) that is slightly higher than California's latest issuance (AA), because Alabama's finances are in better shape.



So I think you should revisit your argument because the situation is a lot more complex. It's better to think of the federal government as providing income insurance to the states, rather than just pretending that states do not independently borrow money, that they do not compete with each other, and that they do not have their own credit ratings. A better analogy is to look at individuals in a nation who each borrow, save, and spend, but they are protected with some federal programs like welfare and disability insurance. That's a much better way to view the situation.

Well thank you for the time in writing that, it seems I definitely made a lot of factual mistakes. I had no idea California was now a net receiver of federal money x) But I guess it makes sense due to the enormous debt that the federal government continues to rack up.

But my points regarding bonds is that the states and municipalities do emit bonds, yes, but not only their bonds. As you state, the majority of cash is raised at a federal level with treasury bonds. In fact, one of the Eurobonds proposals was that states use European bonds up to some threshold (60% debt-to-gdp ratio level was proposed), and have to rely on national bonds to cover the rest. This is at once a mechanism of consolidation, allowing weaker states to piggy-back off the bloc's interest rates, BUT at the same an incentive for fiscal discipline, as after 60% your debt has to be financed through more expensive national bonds.

> In fact, one of the Eurobonds proposals was that states use European bonds up to some threshold (60% debt-to-gdp ratio level was proposed), and have to rely on national bonds to cover the rest.

Yes, these are valid points. My impression though, is that a better thing to focus on is not financing but who pays for what. In the U.S. the Federal government pays for social insurance, federal defense and big infrastructure projects. The states pay for education, police, and local infrastructure.

It is because the U.S. states do not pay for social insurance that allows them to weather unequal income distributions and that is why poorer states consistently get more spending. The whole point of social insurance is that poorer people get more and richer get less, so it's the opposite of per GDP spending.

For example, when states like California start trying to take on social insurance roles, that's when they get into a lot of fiscal trouble.

So now the problem with Europe is that the states do need to pay for social insurance, and that's a killer. There is just no amount of Euro bonds that will be able to help because the poorer states have a lower GDP per capita but the bonds will be capped at a share of GDP, which is the exact opposite of how social insurance works.

Therefore you can clean up Europe's finances if there is a central government that pays for social insurance. Defense spending is relatively minor in comparison to social spending, so you can keep that per state if you want. But once you federalize social insurance, then you can still do some GDP ratio debt limits and be OK, and it doesn't matter too much what happens with per-state financing once this burden is taken off states' books.

Of course this requires real solidarity. And it seems that Western Democracies have been doing everything they can to destroy real solidarity. But that's a whole other discussion.

At least that's my take.

"The fact is that "hard work" or productivity is entirely uncorrelated with compensation."

They are just not strongly.

All you have to do is send your higher earning potential workers to Germany - which as you hint at, kind of the way the EU was designed, and which is happening to a great degree.

'Joining the EU' was never a benefit for Portugual - really just the free money or subsidized/reasonably structured loans and investment were. But as you indicate, the price is a lot more.

Germany is where people work, Spain/Portugual is where they retire, like the Florida of Europe.

Sadly, I don't see an end as there will never be enough momentum to disrupt things, given that young people think that 'travelling without a passport' is somehow a giant strategic benefit, and they've been told how to think about the EU.

You could have a referendum and leaders could ignore it, as they have in France, Netherlands, Ireland etc..

There's no change possible on the Horizon, but if there were serious economic upheaval in major states like Italy/Spain, integration problems wit E. Europe in a major way, it might be possible to cut a new deal which would include terms that limit ECJ Supremacy and affirmed local constitutions, and gave local nations control over settlement, and hopefully 'more democracy' at the Legislative and Executive (this will never happen though) ... and you have a situation where UK, Norway and Switzerland could feasibly join.

Brexit ended any serious thought of any EU country leaving the Union, not even the fringe right wing parties entertain that idea anymore.

To be able to live and work anywhere across a whole continent is certainly very attractive to many young people - this has been the American dream, and it is the European dream now too.

Really Europe is just waiting for the old people to go (or at least their ways), then we might be able to build something great.

Finally, I (from the UK, with a couple of years in CA) didn't realize how much poverty I'd been living in until I came to Portugal, supposedly one of the poorer EU countries!

"Brexit ended any serious thought of any EU country leaving the Union, not even the fringe right wing parties entertain that idea anymore."

Pragmatically the opposite: the UK is doing just fine - and 'Brexit' has demonstrated how immaterial so many of the supposed advantages are in the EU, and how hyperbolic the scary claims were.

UK, Norway, Switzerland are all way ahead of all EU averages.

That said, I agree that it's probably off the table for a few years.

"To be able to live and work anywhere across a whole continent is certainly very attractive to many young people"

Yes, because they are myopic and don't recognize the relative cost.

There's also no reason to not have an 'Easy Pass' work scheme so that Europeans can freely travel anywhere, and, fairly easily obtain work visas.

"Really Europe is just waiting for the old people to go ("

Unbelievably naive and arrogant, more than likely, this will turn Europe into a cesspool.

FYI 'Labour Mobility' is fundamentally a neoliberal idea - it's proposed by 'Big Business' because they believe there is a degree of efficiency in it. There is some rationality there, but it's ridiculous that so many young people think this is really about some spirit of 'community'. It's about labour costs and supposed efficiencies, and that's that.

It's 'the dream' of the shareholder class, not 'the people'.

European leaders want to smash nations and destroy all concept of regional character, in this way, they can put a Starbucks on every corner, and IKEA in every suburb.

Right now Starbucks can't open a store in Italy, because Italians know better, and have other, better things to drink, in their view. But once there is no such thing as 'Italian' then Toyota, McDonald's, IKEA, Apple and Netflix will dictate the terms of society as much as they do in the US, and Italy will become an irrelevant suburb, like everywhere.

In terms of economic efficiency: UK citizens are ahead of Portuguese, mostly, your views o 'poverty' are likely brought up by anger and resentment, and would be different if you had to endure the true inefficiency of Portugal over a lifetime. Of course, this would disregard the amazing Portuguese culture, which is subjective, but that's exactly what the EU Federalists want to wipe out, as they view it as 'getting in the way of efficiency'.

In reality, there's no reason for the EU to exist. The fundamental lack of democracy, the fundamental overreach by the ECJ, the fundamental misattribution of migration policy by ECJ rulings that contravene the treaties, the fundamental lack of respect for popular will (Jean Claude Junker basically saying 'we will move forward with integration no matter what the referendum results are, France, Ireland, Netherlands ignoring referendum results, killing referendums in the rest of Europe because they know they would lose etc.)

Europeans need an 1) EEC with coordinated and efficient worker visa system and international trade treaties done at the EEC level, 2) Integrated Monetary Coordination so that national currencies and work alongside the Euro and ECB can be reduced to just the 'Euro' not used for most commerce, i.e. a way for nations to fund their own debt, but also have some of the resiliency from being part of EU 3) Coordinated but not integrated military (the later will never work), 4) An ECJ that does not have sovereignty over national constitutions, 5) The EIF is a good idea actually it should be kept, 6) Parliament can be disbanded. There is something in there that would work for Switzerland, Norway, UK, and everyone else.

Then you can just call it 'Europe'.

There are Starbucks in Italy and the UK is not doing fine at all.

1) Starbucks opened their first store in Italy 2018 - fully 20 years after expansion into other major markets, precisely because they have a very hard time there relative to other markets.

Starbucks existential difficulty expanding into Italy is not 'disproven' by the fact there are very few stores there, just the opposite, it is evidence for my position.

2) The UK is doing quite fine [1][2]

Almost all UK numbers remained consistent through the lead up to Brexit hysteria (pre-COVID), nothing really changed even as Brexit was imminent and businesses adjusted.

UK 2020 numbers were a bit worse than average, of course, it was a disastrous year for everyone due to COVID - more importantly, the UK was actually much more accurate in economic reporting for public sectors services as the Home Office reports decline in activity (for example students not being taught) as a decline in GDP, whereas Continental nations declared simply gov. expenditures (i.e. 'teachers being paid', irrespective of classes being taught). Because teachers and other public servants were still paid in Germany, they didn't reduce the effective GDP declaration, even if they were not doing anything. So the 2020 numbers are not hugely comparable anyhow.

But by 2021, the numbers are already looking pretty good, and you can see by the charts (and others) that there is no hugely deviation from historical performance due to Brexit, although it's too early to tell for sure.

The OECD is not a 'pro Brexit' organization and their projections for 2021 and 2022 are fairly consistently positive and better than almost all of Europe.

The UK does 'a bit better than most' of the EU (some areas worse than others) in much the same way that it did before.

In particular, the UK still has an unemployment rate 1/2 that of France, and slightly lower than Germany.

Political antagonists (in and out of government) still lament their fears, and make bold claims about '30 year projections' etc. but much of this is misrepresented, exaggerated, and difficult to fathom given the multi-decade durations necessary in order for them to demonstrate the 'cumulative loss' from Brexit. And of course, they don't account for other opportunities.

There will be more COVID and post-Brexit adjustments, but the numbers have been coming in, and the evidence is that:

A) 'Brexit Hysteria' was completely overstated,

B) Basic economic participation (i.e. trade) with the EU is 95% of the story and everything else is mostly hot air.

After a couple more years of this, the results will be even more clear: the EU doesn't matter, only the 'EEC' (i.e. trade) part of it is relevant.

Nations can exit the union, trade with it, issue debt in their own currencies, regain monetary policy and competitiveness and get along just fine, possibly better than they did before.

[1] https://www.spglobal.com/ratings/en/research/articles/210923...

[2] https://www.oecd.org/newsroom/global-economic-recovery-conti...

So you get "more control". Then you do fuckall with it.

Nothing stops the Portuguese government from making better laws for small business/entrepreneurs or investing in education for them.

But I guess borders could work. Why would anyone open a 3D printing shop for example, in Portugal when they can just do it in Germany?

It used to be, most countries were telling other nationals to fuck off. Now they welcome everyone and keep the best.

Hard for countries to compete when they let their best people just leave.

You're partially right.

Portugal is in the middle of a work culture change. For the last maybe 5 or so years, many tech companies have opened offices here, and with that they brought a better work/life balance, better salaries, better everything, for people working in those companies.

On the other hand a typical "old school" Portuguese boss expects you to work more than the standard 8 hours and not be paid for it. In many many places you're shamed by co-workers if you leave on time (leaving earlier isn't even an option), or if you need to take days off for personal reasons. It's also not unusual to make it hard for people to take vacation days (we have 21 days of vacations per year), and even when you do take vacations you are expected to be available if needed. All this for a minimum wage of 665€.

Regarding the Portuguese economy, we are somewhere in the middle of Europe. We have many industries where we are probably the best in the world, but they are smaller less flashy industries. Namely things like wine, cork, shoes, ceramics (as in toilets), glass, etc. But we have many financial issues, manly due to huge amount of corruption in government and financial institutions. If you're interested in those search for Operation Marquis and Face Oculta scandal.

Regarding this law in particular, it was made so that people that are working from home due to COVID can log off an not have people calling for extra work after hours. It has been a real issue. For me personally I've been working average 10 hours a day the last two years.

> ...boss expects you to work more than the standard 8 hours and not be paid for it. In many many places you're shamed by co-workers if you leave on time (leaving earlier isn't even an option), or if you need to take days off for personal reasons. It's also not unusual to make it hard for people to take vacation days (we have 21 days of vacations per year), and even when you do take vacations you are expected to be available if needed.

You were describing US work culture perfectly until the 21 days of vacation part. In the US you are legally entitled to 0 vacation days (also, 0 days for maternity leave), though 10 is more standard. Our minimum wage is about the same ($7.25), and has not changed since 2009 ($7.25 today is equivalent to ~$5.50 in 2009).

Hardly anyone pays the minimum wage though. We're at a point where "McDonalds" type jobs start at easily twice that.

I still see federal minimum or close to it for fast food when I go through smaller places (central, midwest, etc).

"McDonalds" in cities starts at $15-25/hr because those cities set a higher minimum wage.

Not true. I live in North Carolina where the minimum wage is still the federal minimum wage ($7.25). In the rural parts of the state (low COL) McDonalds is still advertising $10/hr, and in the area I live it’s $12-$14. Many stores and fast food places are advertising $15 and higher.

Minimum wage in Portugal is €775 when dividing the yearly gross salary. The €665 figure is a misrepresentation in an international forum like this because Portugal pays salaries 14x a year instead of 12x.

As a foreigner living and working as a long-term resident in Portugal (with a Portuguese salary and paying Portuguese taxes, of course), my impression is that the problems are systemic and long-term. There is no overnight solution but things are slowly improving. Salaries are still abysmal so many highly skilled workers migrate outside of Portugal. At the same time there is a ton of favoritism which leads to an abundant amount of incompetence in leadership positions, resulting in low motivation. People tend to work a lot, often they are forced to work longer than official work hours and there are long lunch breaks, but they do not always work very efficiently. My impression is that client-related businesses and the public sector (funcionários) are overstaffed. This is especially noticeable in shops, where there are often 3 or 4 people standing around with nothing to do until one of them draws some invisible short straw and takes care of you.

I don't think there is an easy recipe to change systemic problems and I don't have any quirks with the current government. They're doing a fine job. Portugal used to be a rural society and have textile industry. I doubt it's going to turn into a high tech innovation hub anytime soon, but everyone is trying. The currently biggest problem are the increasing rents and stagnating salaries, as well as the brain drain mentioned above. But perhaps the biggest problem is favoritism and very pronounced social hierarchies, I've heard horror stories about psychopathic bosses. I've even met such people at university so I believe they have a grain of truth in them.

"I doubt it's going to turn into a high tech innovation hub anytime soon .."

I wouldn't be so sure:

Remote raises $150m and becomes Portugal’s fifth unicorn - https://sifted.eu/articles/remote-unicorn/

Sorry to ask, and you don't have to answer if you don't want to, but do you live there by yourself or do you have a family? I have a wife and two kids, and I'm trying to figure out how much does it cost to live in Portugal, per month. I'm planning to move there, not now but in the short future. Could you give me an idea of the cost, if you're familiar with this situation (family of four). Thanks in advance.

I'm portuguese, happy to help you there if you give more details. Where will you be living? Rent can range from 500/600 euros in the Porto Periphery to 1500+ in Center. Will kids go to private school (200/300 per month is common, but 'better' schools can go up to 800/1000 per month for the likes ofUBS, CLIP in Porto) or public school (free).

If you don't want to live a lavish lifestyle, I think 2000/2500 after taxes should be more than enough. Average Household income is around 1600 Euros (which is quite low tbh) but livable.

Thank you for the help. I might be able to earn around 3000 euros (after taxes), would live in a smaller city, maybe close to Porto but wouldn't need to live in Porto itself, and not a lavish lifestyle by any means, just a comfortable life for the kids, no eating out much, no fancy car, etc. I keep thinking that I should wait until I can earn more, that 3000 might not be enough, but a friend who lived there for some time told me this is just my fear of not being able to provide my kids with a good life, and I guess he's right. I keep thinking it might not be enough for a comfortable life for them (again, not lavish/rich, just a good quality of life for them).

Ok, 3k will be more than enough. Will try to run the numbers below choosing high income options:

- 2 bedroom apartment in Matosinhos Sul (near the beach): 900/1000 euros (non 'fancy' places this will be around 500/600)

- Utilities (gas, electricity, water + internet/mobile/cable tv): 200

- Decent food for a family of four: 500

- Going out for dinner once a week with family: 150 euros

- Car: 600 (nice car lease, insurance + gas)

- Public transport for family: 100

Note all the prices are in the upper range. You can easily feed a family of 4 with much less or shopping around (we average 100 per person per month, but we still buy nice cuts of meat and the likes), just showing that it is well within the budget. Spreading out to non beach/not as close to porto places would reduce your rent almost by 50%. You can get a lease with insurance and maintenance included in the price for new a new Mazda 3 for 300 euros for example, leaving you with 100 on gas.

I bought my car upfront and I also own my apartment, so not the best example, but I still pay 300 euros of child support + private school for my kid (250) + other extras, and me and my gf (my kid stays with me 1/3 of the month only) don't spend over 1250 per month including those expenses.

It always surprises me these kind of calculations. When one earns minimum wage or a bit above that, concerns are paying the rent, the bills, food. But when one earns enough to be comfortable paying all of that, one should be a bit worried regarding the topic of living by renting instead of buying a property. Earning 3K euro per month means you probably can afford a mortgage but you will be paying it for 30 years… that makes me sad. My main point is: Not even “good” salaries such as 3K euro are enough to afford a decent house in Europe without having to pay it for 30 years.

You can probably buy something, and not even spend 30 years paying it. I am looking at an apartment right now for 169 that I think they will accept 150k. Assuming no downpayment (banks won't allow it but easier to do math), I could pay the same as rent and have it payed of in 15 years (about 900 a month).

But in general, no, housing market is out of reach even for the middle class and sometimes middle-upper class here (and other places in Europe). But that is what happens when money making machine goes brrrrrr, inflation goes to 5% and the likes, and the central banks still keep interest rates close to zero. Rich will get richer, and the poor, well, fuck them right? /s

How are public schools compared to private? Does the quality of public schools vary a lot depending on which neighborhood they're located, like in the US, or are they mostly on the same level throughout a city/state?

They are generally ok. They depend a bit on where you live, but not like in the US where the school funding comes from local taxes. If the school serves a lot of 'problematic' areas, there will be more issues/problems, but not because of lack of funding, just the kids that go there, but in general they are ok. A school in a high income area will get better results than one that serves people in the projects, but isn't due to the school/funding itself, but more about the type of students that are there. But overall, they are still good and I would have no issue with having my kid attending one (unfortunately, since the divorce, this has been a pain point between me and my ex, so easier to just keep him where he is)

Also, we have some national rankings of schools (both private and public) but don't get too hang up on that. My kid used to go to a very 'fancy', top ranked and expensive school before. Top of the ranks. Cost per month was over 700 euros. He was bullied there. Robbed of toys and things. His teacher couldn't get him to participate at all (he was identified as 'gifted' with an IQ of more than 130) or do anything in class. Talking with other parents, their kids had similar things happening (other kids stealing things). School tried to hide it until I threaten them with having the police involved (not exaggerating, I had 3 meetings with teacher and director person, and nothing was really done except vague promisses, on 4th time, I had meeting with my lawyer, I went to the meeting and said due to this and that, and the fact that what happening was crime A and B, and if it ever happened again, I would press charges both against the kid and the school (there is law where School is legally responsible if they are aware of this happening and do nothing). 10 minutes after leaving that meeting I had the school director/principal calling me to schedule an emergency meeting. After that meeting, it took me 2 weeks to move my son to another school.

He is now in a 'shittier' school, even has more 'problematic' kids, and there isn't a single issue, he loves it. He may not have fancy digital dry boards, and music lessons with some famous musician, but he is much happier kid. Just did his 'exams' and except for Portuguese (he hates it) scored almost max points in everything. Just because a school charges a lot and has all the 'fancy' things, doesn't mean it is the best for the kids

Hey, I really appreciate you taking your time to help me out. Your answers have been very helpful on a somewhat stressful situation for me (moving my entire family). Thank you very much! Hacker News is great.

edit: P.S. I agree with you on expensive schools not being automatically better. A friend of mine had a similar experience to yours, and it was a very expensive school.

Depends on the kind of lifestyle that you want, but two 2000€ salaries (before tax) can support a very comfortable upper-middle class life.

I'm curious: if your don't mind sharing, what attracted you to living in Portugal as a foreigner?

Pure coincidence, I got a exceptionally good postdoc grant there that fit my research profile and decided to stay after it ran out. I really came to like the country and its people the longer I've stayed.

The main reason Portugal does not have a competitive per capita GDP in the euro area is the fact that the older generations have, on average, very low instruction and education levels and thus are not able to be as productive as their northern European same generation citizens.

There has been a big change in the last 20 years because of a big bet on higher education, science and technology. The new generations can compete with and match the productivity levels of any European citizen of the same age cohort.

I hope this helps you better understand Portuguese economics because its impact on Portugal’s general wealth will become evident to anyone in the following decades.

Wouldn't Portugal's GDP per capita have been increasing noticeably over the last few decades if for 20 years an influx of improvement had been occurring with new entrants to the labor force?

Inflation adjusted Portugal's GDP per capita has hardly moved in three decades.

In nominal terms it hasn't increased in 13 years, since the peak before the great recession (23% inflation adjusted decline over that time).

By comparison Czechia was far worse off than Portugal 30 years ago and now has a higher per capita figure. Slovakia is likely to similarly overtake Portugal soon as well. The same is true of the Baltic states, all of which will overtake Portugal (Estonia already has). That doesn't seem like something that should be happening if Portugal were seeing a big positive change for decades.

As I started by saying:

"The main reason Portugal does not have a competitive per capita GDP in the euro area .."

The huge investment that has been made in higher education, science and technology took a whole generation for this effort to start displaying its results.

The number of STEM PHDs for example, is today orders of magnitude higher than it was 20 years ago - things like this do take time and do not reflect on GDP data immediately.

And yes we're starting to see its effects, though not at the level that I expect will be obvious to everyone who still thinks of Portuguese people through the prejudice resulting for many years of low productivity caused by high levels of illiteracy.

Things are changing, see the example below:

Remote raises $150m and becomes Portugal’s fifth unicorn - https://sifted.eu/articles/remote-unicorn/

Actually, I have a friend from Slovakia, and what he tells me is exactly the opposite you have commented above - that the education system in Slovakia is today much worth than it was 10 years ago.

Anyways, I'm seeing a lot of IT companies (local and foreign) being created and investing in Portugal and I invite you to come here to see for yourself how a big bet in education can have huge payoffs on the economical development of a country.

One question is: can your people be happy if you don’t have the best economy? Do you need to constantly grow and produce more value to be sustainable?

Lotta weasel words in there, maybe describe how you acquired these loosely held "beliefs?" Someone's gotta be last, but is it actually bad there, or is the problem academic and significant only because someone (you, in this case) describes it as such? I'm getting a distinct "yo dawg, I herd..." vibe.

On one hand they care about work/life balance for everyday citizens.

On the other hand they have a lazy and unproductive workforce.

Unproductive bit is true mostly due to the low value added nature of most jobs.

The lazy thing is a tired, prejudiced, stereotype. Unless you also consider countries like Japan who work similar (but less) annual hours to be 'lazy'.[0]


I spent years making careful decisions and investments in my career so that I could work a flexible and remote job. I’ve worked in places where most of the workers are incapable of competently working asynchronously and being results driven. Laws like this seem to ridiculous and ignoring the reality of work.

I DM my staff on slack “after hours” [1] all the time, and set the expectation that they should respond when appropriate at their discretion. That could (and often does) mean the next business day or even later. Or it could mean ASAP; they’re adults, and have the judgement to make the correct call.

[1] Obviously, this policy is not targeted at staff in different time zones, which makes their remedy meaningless.

It's great that you don't have the expectation of people reading or replying to your messages after hours.

However, please recognize that even with a well-meaning boss like you, there are still mechanisms that incentivize individuals to at least read these messages, and once their free time has been "tainted" with work stuff, much of the damage is already done. Psychological pressures (which may be entirely internal but often are the result of other peers' attitudes as well) will still take a toll.

IMHO, as grown-ups, it is the most reasonable thing to avoid such leakage altogether; when my phone rings after hours I need to be certain that this is not something that can wait.

Luckily, since you're already using slack, you can just use the "send later" feature which is super simple to use and will work around this effectively. :)

This boss isn’t well meaning at all. They expect people (unlike what you said) to actually read all messages right away, no matter the time.

Because, as they also say, sometimes it might be appropriate to respond right away (“Or it could mean ASAP”).

If that’s the case, then the clear expectation is that people read all messages at all times, they just might not always have to respond right away (but in order to make that judgement call they have to actually read all messages).

This might actually be worse than just sending messages after hours where you actually have to respond right away – because you actually have to do sifting and filtering (after hours!) through messages, the vast majority of which might not require an immediate answer. If you are only contacted at those times where you actually do need to respond right away then at least you know what to expect …

This sounds like a pretty awful boss with awful communication who somehow convinced themself that they are oh so gracious and nice.

I disagree with your take and I am mostly on the receiving end of those late Slack messages. If you do not wish to get notified unless it's an emergency there is a nifty feature that allows you to define your working hours, out of which you won't get a notification when getting messages on Slack.

In case of something that is urgent the sender can override the "do not disturb" and send a notification anyway. This in my opinion is the right way to do.

You should own the fact that your free time is yours and that you shouldn't open Slack to read those late messages. People work at different times (especially true for globally distributed team) and expecting people to "know" that they are outside of YOUR business hours simply does not scale to multiple employees.

> You should own the fact that your free time is yours and that you shouldn't open Slack to read those late messages

It sounds like that works for you at your company. Congrats!

But if you're lucky enough never to have had an overbearing boss, you're not familiar with all the nifty ways they will try to control or coerce labor while not paying you.

In US low-wage jobs, they know they can get away with violating labor law with impunity until it gets bad enough to attract media attention. Even if workers had the money to sue, it wouldn't be worth it.

I got to see texts from a younger relative's boss at a national chain restaurant leading up to quitting. She had been working 6-7 days a week for over a month, but wage theft was keeping her under 40 hours a week paid. Multiple demands she come in on her day off with less than a couple hours notice to "support the team" or "do her part", with escalating threats in response to anything less deferential than "yes boss".

She finally responded by quitting. That solicited a remarkable fit of rage, calling her a loser who can't hold down a real job and so on.

The thing that kills me is I know most people don't want to be abusive shitheads. It is absolutely learned behavior from an abusive top-down system. The only way to win is not to play.

And I think that's driving a lot of the job churn our sanctified "job creators" are bitching about. Fuck 'em. If you can't build a company without abusing people, you don't deserve a company. Go get a real job, whiners.

> She had been working 6-7 days a week for over a month, but wage theft was keeping her under 40 hours a week paid.

There are already laws against wage theft, if her current employer is already ignoring the existing laws, what exactly will improve with an additional one? Bad work environment won't be improved by a ham-fisted legislation around when your employer is allowed to talk with you.

This kind of good intention laws can only be used by employees that already have some leverage and are in a decent work environment. Say the no-text-after-5 law is implemented in the US, what exactly do you think will happen when your relative quotes it to her employer? In an at-will state she'll get fired, in a not-at-will state she will get fired for a bogus reason.

Powerless people don't magically gain power with shitty edge-case laws like this. Create a social net that allows her to quit without dying of starvation one month later or going bankrupt from lack of insurance. That will give the poorest among us some actual leverage.

>Create a social net that allows her to quit without dying of starvation one month later or going bankrupt from lack of insurance.

That's a very good point! And true. But it's not a xor situation, you can have both as they handle different things. Regardless of any social security net, you can still be bullied or manipulated into yielding your free time. It's good to have it written into law that it's against the law to contact a worker outside their contracted hours.

> But it's not a xor situation

I did not argue that it was, I meant that the counter argument of the person I was replying to was moot. Vulnerable people stay vulnerable and those laws are just basically just cosmetic.

> Regardless of any social security net, you can still be bullied or manipulated into yielding your free time.

Yes, but I am old fashioned and that's where I break from some of the takes in thread. If you can say no, then it's your responsibility to say no. If you are bullied at work or manipulated while having a social net and you choose to endure then I think the responsibility lies with you as you make no effort to improve your situation.

Now my last point is entirely an opinion based on my values, I can recognize that, but I hope it clears up why I believe in a social net that prevents abuse while also opposing laws like the one discussed.

But all the users above me said the market takes care of it... im confused. It sounds to me like you're saying that labor laws exist as a response to widespread bad behavior rather than dirty liberals trying to make it possible for plebs to have control over their own lives?

The right way to do it is to not install work slack on any of your non-work devices. Barring emergencies, which should be directed to dedicated on-call staff, or extenuating circumstances like prearranged projects with tight deadlines, there should be no reason to have to reply to your boss until the next work day.

Or if there is, write that into the contract and pay accordingly.

Slack also has a scheduled send option. Just schedule it for the morning if its unimportant. Then there's no implied expectation of when something should be addressed.

I, like others, sometimes use work laptop for pleasure. actually, I know a lot of people who do this exclusively. sure, you can blame it on them... but also I use slack for more than just work, and when I see unread notifications, even if I didn't get a push, i'm compelled to read them.

> out of which you won't get a notification when getting messages on Slack.

This is actually not true. Slack will still red-badge the app or workspace and show that you have an unread message waiting for you. All do-not-disturb does is prevent OS-level push notifications I believe.

I use Slack also for some social groups (though, I'm trying to less and less), so just "quitting slack" means also removing myself from groups im in outside of work.

I wish Slack had a way to "soft log out" of a workspace - right click -> deactivate and it greys out the workspace and doesnt show any unread messages indicators until you reactivate.

Instant messaging should be used for instant messaging. There’s a reason we have email and now tickets as well.

And his cries of "stop that, no, you're doing it wrong!" fell on deaf ears, for use is born not from design but usefulness.

I agree. Even if I don't receive a notification, if I happen to open the Slack app and see pending messages – particularly if they're from a manager or someone higher in the hierarchy – then I feel obligated to respond to them.

Well then, it sounds like you need to put your phone down or at least don't open Slack, knowing well what would happen if you do. The onus is on you to disconnect from work, not to ensure everyone else conforms to your schedule.

"just not opening slack" and "arguing for a prohibition of after-hour non-emergency contact" are two strategies built on the anticipation of trouble coming from receiving messages after hours. They just work on different (individual vs collective) levels, and IMHO (stress on O) the collective measure here seems more promising for the simple fact that we already a know a lot about the compulsive behaviour that digital communicatuons drive, even ones like slack with a relatively benign business model and UX. Pushing for a non-individual solution here is throwing out the figurative Oreos before we get the craving.

On the other side of this argument, which other society-scale problems do we know of where an appeal to individual discipline has worked well?

> Or it could mean ASAP

Reading this as written, you're requiring your staff to read every message immediately but they only need to respond if you think they need to.

That's no different than 24/7 on call when it comes to making some people's lives miserable.

Or in other words "I expect my staff to always check every DM I send them out of hours and correctly deduce whether I expect them to respond immediately. If they don't I will consider them to have poor judgement."

> Or it could mean ASAP


This basically means they must “read” the message ASAP to decide whether to reply ASAP or not.

That OUGHT NOT TO BE the expectation ever!

Let alone the expectation of an immediate answer, the root problem is expectation of that message “being read right then” or soon.

[Sentence removed due to misinterpreting comment I replied to]. It's important to consider the managers and poor leaders out there who might not be as upstanding as yourself with regards to expectations, necessitating legislation or regulation. Citizens are entitled to their uncompensated time off hours not being interrupted.

It's likely the end result of this is using communications tool features to queue or hold messages until a worker's work day starts. I believe Slack, Teams, and Office 365 already support "quiet hours" at org level.

Tangentially, when thinking about labor regulation, I think it's important to frame the conversations as "what monsters lurk in the private sector? [1] [2]" vs "I am a great boss, why would this be necessary?"

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=ceo+type+psychopath

[2] https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=leadership+dark+triad

He says that he expects people to respond to DMs ASAP when he considers it appropriate. That means his staff have to read each message he sends them when he sends them. This is hardly good leadership.

They said they set appropriate expectations, and I’m supposed to be polite and assume positive intent of other comments per HN guidelines.

I believe my comments make it clear where I stand on support of regulation to prohibit this activity.

> That could (and often does) mean the next business day or even later. Or it could mean ASAP; they’re adults, and have the judgement to make the correct call.

GP was correct—that means you've gotta read every message in case it's one of the "ASAP" ones. That's just exactly what the post under discussion explicitly stated. No adversarial reading required.

Assuming positive intent, in this case, would be to assume that they've at least made it clear what counts as "ASAP" so workers don't have to guess, after checking the message. If not, it's even worse.

I have an 11 month old child. My work hours are all over the place. A law telling me I can't catch up on Slack when I'm up at midnight for unrelated reasons just makes my life worse.

Why not just close slack when you leave for the day? I don't get it.

> Why not just close slack when you leave for the day? I don't get it.

Because there are bosses out there who, if you don't meet their expectation of round the clock access to you, will fire you or PIP you out. Regulation will always have some edge cases where said regulation is suboptimal, but optimal over the aggregate. Your life might be worse, but more people's lives are improved.

Having children myself, I understand and can relate to your situation, but also understand the value of setting employment boundaries using regulation. Constant off hours contact is legitimately harmful to worker wellbeing [1].

"The insidious impact of 'always on' organizational culture is often unaccounted for or disguised as a benefit – increased convenience, for example, or higher autonomy and control over work-life boundaries," says Becker. "Our research exposes the reality: 'flexible work boundaries' often turn into 'work without boundaries,' compromising an employee's and their family's health and well-being.

Becker's research [2] is part of a growing body of work that is affirming the negative effects of an "always on" work culture. Around the world, several governments have begun to go as far as legislate laws allowing employees the freedom to not have to engage with work outside of official work hours."

[1] https://newatlas.com/right-to-disconnect-after-hours-work-em... (The right to disconnect: The new laws banning after-hours work emails)

[2] https://journals.aom.org/doi/10.5465/AMBPP.2018.121 (Killing me softly: Electronic communications monitoring and employee and spouse well-being)

This is an example of regulating a poorly chosen proxy. If the issue is people getting fired for ignoring a message, make firing people for not being available 24/7 illegal. There are plenty of reasons why after hours messages might be useful and no one really has a problem with them on their own, it's other behaviors which are loosely correlated with it which are the issue. Yes you will always have edge cases, but we should strive to minimize those edge cases as much as possible. In the particular situation of "some people prefer work schedules outside the standard 9-5" it's not even a small edge case, nor an unintuitive one.

You are not fired for that, you are fired for responding slower than the other candidate. Employers have to chose all the time. Who to promote? Who gets the shit task? Who will fly to the tropical resort?

You end up with millions of individual struggles with boundaries set by need/urgency, ability to say no, how much of a dick the boss is etc etc

In NL we have some law for a sector where people need to sleep on their shift while still on call. They get some small hourly compensation for those hours. When called their normal shift starts which has a minimum duration. After working for the maximum number of hours per day/week someone else will have to take over. Perhaps an exception like that could work.

Something like 25% of the normal hourly rate for being available. (for example 4 hours after each shift (20h) and 12 hours in the weekend (24h) for 12 hours extra pay) When called it is considered a minimum duration shift of 3 hours, hours beyond 8 or after 18:00 at overtime rate. The 3 hours are removed starting with the last work day of the week and the first of the next.

This is not a situation unique to after hours messages. The workplace is full of instances where an employer can discriminate against an employee in small but meaningful ways, you need robust employee protections, not a series of questionable legal hacks.

Replace responding slower with say being a different skin color. If a white and a black employee are equal on meaningful metrics but one gets to go on all the fun trips while the other is consistently given the shit tasks, that's obviously a problem, but you can't simply avoid the situation where the problem might present itself. You need structures in place so that employees can identify that they're being mistreated, notify someone with the power to fix the situation, confirm that the problem has actually been solved, and escalate if not; all without fear of retaliation. That is tough to do, but it doesn't make it any less necessary. Once you have that system in place, it is the logical way to deal with all forms of mistreatment. Then there is no need for special exceptions which substitute one rigid restriction for another.

Some people would also prefer to drive on the other side of the road for their own legitimate concerns.

Driving on the wrong side of the road directly causes collisions. Would you rather A) ban driving on the wrong side of the road and thus stop unwanted behaviour or B) leave driving on the wrong side of the road legal but ban british people from driving because british drivers are correlated with driving on the other side of the road?

Option A is a well chosen proxy, option B is the poorly chosen proxy I am arguing against.

> If the issue is people getting fired for ignoring a message, make firing people for not being available 24/7 illegal.

It's much more difficult to prove that a worker is being fired for not being available 24/7 when they company says they have other reasons, than to prove that your boss sent a message out of hours. Your proposal would be practically unenforceable.

It doesn't matter how easily something is measured if it's not a useful measure.

The difficulty of enforcing wrongful termination laws in a "right to work" environment is a separate issue, solved by better standards of evidence with clear guidelines.

No standard of evidence will solve the fact that you can't ever know the true motives of someone. If someone gets fired because their boss says it was for poor performance, you won't ever know that the thing that the boss cared for was the fact that the employee didn't respond to some slack messages. Find just enough evidence for plausible deniability and you're done. Also, the difficulty of proving the causes of termination will mean that employees will be discouraged to sue.

On the other hand, if you ban out-of-hours messages, it's pretty easy to prove you received that message, so it's much easier to enforce.

This happens with a lot of similar issues. For example, in my country it's illegal to ask in interviews about family situation, pregnancy, religion... The point is to stop hiring discrimination, but it's much easier to prove that the employer asked me about whether I wanted to have kids than to prove that the employer rejected me because I want to have kids.

You don't need to know the true motives of someone, you just need to evaluate the likely motives of someone. If a boss says the employee performed poorly, let them show the performance metric by which they determined that poor performance. If it's "monthly sales numbers" and the employee is substantially below average, that seems reasonable. If its "average message response time" then it's an open and shut case. If the employer just says some vague "they weren't doing a good job" but can present no evidence in support of that statement while the employee can show evidence of the boss expecting 24/7 communication, a reasonable person ought to conclude that was a major factor in the decision. The issue is that, because of poor standards of evidence and guidelines, employers are often given an immense benefit of the doubt and employees are hamstrung by dumb rules, allowing courts to do mental gymnastics to say that the employer who fired their best salesperson after they whistleblew because they wore an ugly tie on a tuesday and for no other reason. Yeah, you can avoid that issue in certain cases with a proxy, but sooner or later you just need to fix it.

If your goal was simply to make the most easily enforceable law, why go through all the trouble of getting records of after hours messages? Why not just ban the use of instant messaging altogether. Or work email. Or employment. You will instantly stop 100% of employee abuse. Of course this is a facetious statement, we don't want to stop employment, or communication, these things are useful and desirable. We want to do minimal harm while preventing egregious abuse.

I think the restriction on interview questions is also an example of a poorly chosen proxy, but at least in that case there is no legitimate reason to ask those questions - you shouldn't be making hiring decisions off those criteria, there should be no need for that information during the hiring process. But if you come into the interview and are visibly pregnant, that protection doesn't do shit for you, because the issue isn't them asking questions. If you have a system in place good enough to prevent a visibly pregnant woman from being discriminated against, you don't need to prevent questions about pregnancy.

As someone mention in another comment, sending an email would be more adequate. The reason being that even if people are "adults, and have the judgement to make the correct call", there is always a looming implied pressure in sending an instant message. Not everyone will have the mental fortitude to just leave things for later, when the boss sends a message.

I turn off my work computer after work day. I never install company chat apps / email on personal devices. So it really doesn't matter whether my manager messages me after hours or next business day because I'll only see when I login to work computer next morning.

That's the correct answer

> they’re adults

But adults who's source of income is their job that you hold the power over.

Even if everybody has a great relationship, that power differential is real and present and can't be changed.

That sounds terrible. Your staff has to read every message after hours in case they get one where they have to respond ASAP. Now I can see why Portugal deemed the law necessary.

We have a team distributed over many time zones so we have to send messages to each other at "off hours". Thankfully we have a good understanding that this is for the convenience of the sender and the receiver can reply the following day.

I have one team member in Quebec and the way they handle this seems to make more sense than Portugal's. Basically, the employees have the right to refuse 'overtime'. So, the boss can message them, but they cannot be penalized for not responding.

Yup slack is async communication. I always reply to my bosses 24 hours after they send me a message. To make sure that there is no expectation that I will be responding immediately.

Early 2021, I was overstressed from (among other causes) being micromanaged.

When a project manager asked me on my private WhatsApp if me being at home meant I couldn't attend this very important number, I looked into a separate phone for work.

I got a separate SIM for 2,50 euro per month and put it into my previous smart-phone (I don't need performance for WhatsApp and the like). This was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Being able to physically shut down your work phone gave me heaps of peace.

I generally shift over to email, because the expectations around email are quite different. In the past I've made it explicit what my expectations are for response time based on communication method, this has worked for cross-cultural work where unspoken assumptions are probably not shared.

Slack has the feature to send later. If it is after hours and non-urgent, it is scheduled for tomorrow or sent as an email. Anything else is disrespectful to the recipient's time and attention.

Would you dm your boss's boss after hours? I would only if important.

Yeah, no.

The entire point of this law is that you don't get to message employees who aren't working.

They aren't obligated to read your message and determine whether it is appropriate to reply immediately or tomorrow.

You can message them during work hours.

I guess there can be lots of exceptions, but it's probably appropriate for many roles to not read the message until the next business day.

This is our policy as well and it works perfectly. In a world where working in different time zones is increasingly becoming the norm, there's really no other workable policy unless you want to hamstring team members outside of your company's "official" time zone.

That said, I'm sure some bosses have abused this policy despite its well-meaning origins.

There should be an SMS option on phones that does an automatic reply "Your message to rbobby could not be delivered because rbobby is not working right now. If you'd like your message delivered anyway a charge of $9.95 will apply. Reply to send your message and be charged $9.95"

This sounds like a really wild solution without a problem.

The employee can just turn off their phone today, or put it on do not disturb, or simply ignore the texts when not working. The boss could say "you need to reply to these texts or you will be fired", just like they could say "You need to take me off your $9.95 delivery list or you will be fired".

Also, is the point here that the employee will be happy to work outside of working hours if they are paid $9.95? If they get overtime they should be paid it based on the hourly overtime rate & policies for their role, not some strange one-time fee that their cellular provider collects for them.

there are people who aren't capable of this due to neuro-divergence. folks with ADD and ADHD affected by RSD wouldn't be able to do what you're asking, and thus these laws are intended to help those who cannot help themselves, not the people not currently being affected.

RSD = Rejection-sensitive dysphoria, right? How does that factor in?

It doesn't need to be an option. You could make an application that replaces your native SMS app, and build such a "gateway".

The only problem I see, is that your boss is likely to use WhatsApp or else to find you, where such rules can't be enforced.

I could make an specific app go offline thanks to the NetGuard app (I'm not affiliated with it), it partially solves that problem. It must be manually turned on or off.

Reading comment like yours always put into perspective how lucky I've been in my career so far to never get a manager who would try to find me on WhatsApp to ask work questions. It seems like such an overreach and might explain why such a law was needed in the first place.

For the company where I used to work, some Leaders and Senior Leaders even have WhatsApp Groups with their ICs.

I personally think that's too much overreach as well. These groups tend to rot into culture echo chambers where you feel peer pressured to participate in a forced cheery way.

And I live in a country where government recently legalised 12 hour shifts.

And EU and American companies open their offices here expecting “full cooperation” from these offshore employees while not at all from their local employees.

It's not at all unusual to work 12-hour shifts at a US company. It's less common among white-collar professionals, although many in finance, law, and medicine regularly work those kinds of hours. It's far more common in blue-collar work--anything from retail to trucking to food service to agriculture.

I'm not saying working 12 hour shifts is good or healthy (although in some cases it's also not too bad, especially if it means more flexibility for the employee, or if they want the extra pay). Just pointing out that plenty of US companies do in fact expect 12 hour shifts from their local employees.

How do you have time talking here ? Obviously we haven't made it clear enough that when you re on your shift you should focus on work, and when not, sleep.

The article uses "text" and "call" and "contact" as if they're indistinguishable - what actually got banned here? There's a huge difference between discussing a task for someone in a team channel and @-ing them and emailing them and SMSing them.

Mandatory "Portuguese here". All forms of communication are banned. Unless it's an emergency, and this is where it gets a bit grey because they haven't defined what exactly is an emergency, so things will probably stay the same in most cases.

Thanks! That sure sounds overbroad - would it include, say, "Can y'all take a look at the XYZ server tomorrow" being posted in a team's slack channel? Also, is it just limited to the supervisor, or is it any work-related messages?

The specifics aren't yet known, they only approved the generality of the law. But the news only mentions employers, so it doesn't seem like it will include co-workers. Also your example would be considered an infraction.

Another reason why it won't mean much is that the employee is the one that needs to make a complain with the work authority, and then work authority has to evaluate the case and decide it they will issue a fine or not.

So what this really means is that if my boss contacts me after work hours I can (and should) ignore him without any repercussions.

Ahhh thank you this makes a lot more sense - the law doesn't need to define "contact" very closely, if there is a review board that decides whether to fine, rather than an automatic fine.

If the law does exclude that, then slack does have a scheduled message function. I use that feature rather than disturbing people out of hours. On a weekend I don't want to be thinking about work, so I apply the same courtesy to others.

"This is an emegency. I can't print."

I tried to answer my own question, but can't find any specifics. CNN says "phone, message or email", AP says "contact", thehill says "email". None of them have a link to more details or the text of the law (which ought to be the bare fucking minimum in a news article about a law, but this is the internet now I guess).

It's probably just an issue with trying to translate the original source. But the law uses the term "contact", so AP is correct.

Thank you, I guess I just naively assumed the law would be more specific or would define the term more narrowly; but I suppose the courts will do that.

"Parents will be allowed to work at home indefinitely without seeking prior approval from their employers until their child turns eight." There have to be some sort of limits on this left out of the article. I cant think a cashier can elect to work from home if they have a 4 year old.

Reasobaly assume that this applies to jobs that can be done remotely, you cant have a remote working plumber

Erm... Why do you need a law when you simply have to say no to your boss as an employee? "Sorry, I am following my contract, I'm not supposed to work after hours". If you can't even have this kind of discussion with your boss, grow some balls or change companies.

When one is over 50 and has a family to support, growing some balls and quitting jobs could end up with one defaulting on the mortgage.

It's easy to say this when you don't have any obligations and are young. But later in life this gets much, much harder.

When one is over 50, one should have grown some balls awhile back, no? In any event, it's never too late. If you're still employed, that implies they need you.

Erm... Because bosses might use that as leverage/reasoning and instead hire people who WILL answer after hours?

If your only advantage is that you will work after hours, then you might have a skills problem on the job market.

What stops them from doing the same without stating the reasoning?

They want to get ahead by pleasing the boss and doing everything they ask, they have no life outside work, they desperately need that job, they just aren’t good at saying no, etc.

"Erm... Why do you need a law when you simply have to say no to your boss as an employee?"

Why do we need a law against bosses demanding sex and blowjobs when you can simply say no?

> Why do we need a law against bosses demanding sex and blowjobs when you can simply say no?

So working after hours is similar to sexual harassment. What a shortcut your did there. Next time try a better analogy.

It’s nice to set an expectation for work life balance.

How does this situation work for “flexible hours” though?

Or it this kind of expecting something like you only work 9-5pm and can’t be contacted outside those times.

it says "out of working hours", even if your hours are flexible they're still working hours I would say

Not quite "bans". They could face fines, which means it's legal for a price.

What happens if there is a true emergency at work? Do employers just have to pay a bunch of fines every time this happens?

What will the politicians do when lots of businesses that could have done business in Portugal instead go to another country that is more reasonable in their laws?

If the politicians removed regulations and made Portugal much more attractive place for business, I think that would better accomplish their goal of improving workers lives. Businesses would be competing aggressively for Portuguese employees.

>And companies may also have to contribute to higher household bills from being home-based, such as energy and internet costs.

Isn't this what we should not be doing? If government wants people to start working from home, then don't create disincentives for companies to make the switch. Temporarily, at least, absorb the cost.

They should have have started by reducing taxes. Portugal has some of the highest tax rates. One of the main reasons why people (especially in highly valued sectors) continue to leave the country.

I don't object to texts or email out of hours. I can pick them up or not as suits me. And I'd rather know what I'm headed into than get in and find chaos.

The best counterargument here is that currently, the market adjudicates this already. Roles demanding after-hours access typically yield higher compensation than similar roles that do not. The market essentially offers an employee the opportunity to offer an employer greater availability in exchange for pay. If the employer demands that access without the corresponding compensation, the employee is likely to depart. This law posits a market failure. Does one exist?

You could make that same argument for health and safety regulations. Why have them? The market will compensate the least safe places higher. But still I would rather know my workplace has some sort of minimum safety standard rather than try to guess and find the one least likely to get me injured/killed.

There are at least 2 market failures I see. One is perfect information. The average worker will not know enough about how after hours access request system is implemented before starting. The other is perfect competition. In an ideal market there would be more competition that would give the worker enough choice to work without this after hours request demand. But in the real world the employee often does not have this choice.

I agree with you 90% of the way, and it would be 100% if not for the fact that there are plenty of jobs which only exist with constant contact from your boss. There may be folks willing to do those jobs for lower compensation, but they don't have the opportunity.

Also, I take issue generally with the idea that in order to only work reasonable hours without being bothered by your boss you need to get paid less for the work you already do.

I banned my boss from texting after hours. He texted me during hours for a legitimate reason. Moments after the issue was taken care of, I blocked his number. If it ever becomes an issue, it's easy to frame as a healthy way of enforcing boundaries. Everyone should block their boss by default.

Sounds like you established a good, respectful relationship with boundaries with your boss. Everyone should do this (without passing a law, obviously).

is this sarcasm?

What about a team’s WhatsApp group? (every co-located team has one) What does a boss do when asking the rest of team where they went off for drinks?

It isn’t obvious from the linked article.

It sounds like they may face fines for this. So, if they're just asking which pub to meet at, I don't think they'd receive a fine for that.

This didn't get passed into legislation.

Does it involves pages also ? What about pages for docters/emergency workers ?


People downvote this comment, but my company wouldn't open an office in Portugal after this if there are other options.

Which company is that? Just to know where not to apply.

Expecting workers to answer immediately when messaging them after hours is crazy. But supporting dumb idea to make such messaging illegal is even more crazy.

For fairness, post a link to your linkedin, just to know whom not to hire.

I don't have a LinkedIn account, so I can't post it. But given your response, you are not someone I want to work for or with.

Not that I need it either, I'm not looking for a new job...

You should do it but for me, but for every recruiter in the world! Funny how you are reluctant to disclose your identity after having such bold views on which empoyees not too work with.

I still don't understand how you guarantee people the right to work remotely for











It seems that more than half of all jobs cannot be done remote under any circumstance so how are you going to make that a government guaranteed right?

You're getting downvoted because you're being deliberately obtuse.

No government is trying to guarantee the right for janitors or nurses to work remotely - only those jobs for which it's feasible.

I'm not being obtuse. What is the point of a right that applies to 1/3 of the population. That is by definition not a right. It's a privilege for a class of people, in this case the people who are already the most privileged people in society.

And a big proportion of those people are already going to have that ability forever at this point.

So this is a legal guarantee of a privilege for some people but mostly just those who don't need it.

The people being obtuse are the people arguing for this like it's some kind of grass roots labor issue and they are freedom fighters.

>What is the point of a right that applies to 1/3 of the population.

Tell that to the abortion rights campaigners. Or the father's rights activists. Or the people who advocate for the rights of gay/trans people, indigenous peoples and immigrants.

There are so many rights out there that only apply to a small subset of the population. It doesn't mean they're invalid.

Every one of your examples conveys a right to 100% of people who are biologically capable of having that right.

That makes sense, women can have rights that don't make sense for men.

The right to WFH is a right that only applies to a socially defined group, specifically the group that have the best jobs. Not at all in the same category IMO.

Ok then, what about these rights: - Right to sick leave and annual leave (only for people on part/full-time contracts, at least in AU) - Right to strike (only affects unionised labourers)

In Portugal is the state that micro manages you and your company.

Yes, the pesky state sets minimum breaks, maximum weekly hours, minimum wage, anti-discrimination law, anti-bullying law, minimum age to work, minimum safety requirements.

It would be a much better world if our neighbours 9 year old was sent down to the local pencil factory every night for six hours and ay weekends to pick up the pencils that ocassionally fly out of the machine into those hard to reach areas between the conveyor belts and sharpening machines. He could make a few dollars a day and pay for his own food and clothes!

Yes. Once your country catches with the rest of developed world then yes you can have slack to have nice things such as all those minimum standards you mentioned. But with this Portugal will remain a back water coutry forever. I have friends that were telling me 10 years ago that Portugal will be the California of Europe. Nice weather welcoming culture, education going up. Who would not want to set up office there?? Nop, I told them. Portugal is the Mexico of Europe. You get taxed to death and anyone without connections but with ability just emigrantes.

Why don't you go to Bangladesh and ask them to set minimum wage laws and maximum working hours? It would help Portugal more than this law, but not so sure about Bangladesh...

I'm Portuguese btw and know very well what I'm talking about. Just crossing the border to Spain makes big difference in a young guy's prospects in life.

I am generally against worker protection for things that are voluntarily agreed on.

The problem is that bosses can sneakily introduce things that weren't agreed on, and this is usually bad for the worker because the worker has less power in the relationship, there are frictions to switching jobs, they have leverage over your reputation, and resolving the dispute via government or the courts is impractical and expensive.

This can be thought of as a type of mild fraud, where two parties came to a contractual agreement that one party then violated (or perhaps it's a grey area that wasn't explicitly covered contractually).

This is why everyone should be in favor of some basic level of worker protection. Even if you're a hard libertarian - as they are purportedly against fraud, too.

It is not so much about hard libertarianism than practical libertarianism. All these protections look good on paper but they will only set Portugal back at this stage. One more Kafkaesque rule and regulation to keep track of. It only sounds like a innocent simple rule, but add it to all the existing ones. Everytime you talk with a Portuguese company owner, the first 40min of any discussion is him explaining why such and such can't be done because of law xyz and taxes here and there for things that would make total sense in another country but are just not worth it trying to do them in Portugal. More than once I had the reaction "oh my friend, here is not so simple, I wish, I know, we are screwed" and the thing is the people I talk to are as smart as anyone outside the country, but the amount of CPU time just devoted to navigate all the made complexity is just completely crazy. 14 monthly salaries, worker food subsidy, travel subsidy, now special payment for internet and electricity, plus Sweden level taxes etc etc etc.

The topic of receiving boss messages out of work hours was no hot topic at all in Portugal. Only on the minds of politicians who are more attuned to the concerns of managerial classes in Brussels than in Portugal.

Elections are coming in 2022, one more reason for them to fire more populist laws like one.

One more measure to keep Portugal the eternal cheap beach destination serving wealthy foreigners (read average working class from Germany or Holland) in holiday resorts and restaurants in our lovely sunny cities.

What do you advise non-residents wishing to go to Portugal to benefit from the tax regime there? Is it not worth it?

Considering only the money aspect it can be worthwhile.

The problem that I have seen with people trying to take advantage of lower taxes for expats is that you can't easily find jobs that pay well. So even with lower taxes your net salary is not as high if are coming from an northern European coutry or US.

Search premature imitation.

I would've preferred to see this come by way of union power, but government bought is ok

It's better done through government, as is minimum wage and other worker protections. Unions have systematic downsides that are avoided if worker protection is achieved via government.

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