Portugal's Right to Disconnect law, digital nomads and a toxic workplace history : Rough Translation When Portugal forbade bosses from contacting employees after hours, international media jumped at the chance to cover the new law. Portuguese workers were oddly quiet. Why?

Stuck@Work: Your Country's Brand Is Escape, But You Can't

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When Portugal forbade bosses from contacting employees after hours, international media jumped at the chance to cover the new law. Portuguese workers were oddly quiet. Why? Sarah Gonzales for NPR hide caption

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Sarah Gonzales for NPR

When Portugal forbade bosses from contacting employees after hours, international media jumped at the chance to cover the new law. Portuguese workers were oddly quiet. Why?

Sarah Gonzales for NPR

Picture this: Your work day ends at 5 p.m. sharp. You say goodbye to colleagues on your last Zoom call of the day, tuck a surfboard under your arm and head to the beach. The aroma of sardinhas assadas is in the air, the sunshine promises to linger long into the evening and you're not worried about an errant after-hours email from your boss.

That's exactly why remote workers, so-called "digital nomads," are flocking to Portugal. More than 100,000 British citizens and 10,000 Americans have moved to the country since the beginning of the pandemic.

And last year, Portugal made international headlines with one of the most ambitious Right To Disconnect laws ever penned. It puts a fine of up to €9,690 on bosses who contact employees after working hours.

But for many young Portuguese workers, who work long hours and have very little personal time, this work-life paradise feels out of reach. Can the Right to Disconnect reset a toxic workplace culture?

We follow Portuguese journalist Catarina Fernandes Martins as she seeks to answer this question. It's an unexpectedly poignant journey to reexamine her own job-from-hell, reckon with a loved one who let her down long ago and untangle the gnarled roots of the country's dark workplace history.

Additional Context:

  • Listen to "Grândola, Vila Morena" by Jose Afonso here, and read the lyrics in English and in Portuguese here.
  • Portuguese newspaper Expresso did a "portrait of a disillusioned generation," which you can read in Portuguese here.
  • You can read and listen to more of Catarina Fernandes Martins' reporting on her website here.

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