March 30, 2021 - Portugal

Digital Nomads - Legal and Tax Framework
  by Isaque Ramos, Nuno Ferreira Morgado

In the context of a growing transition to a digital economy, the possibility of working anywhere in the world as a remote worker is gaining more and more supporters, and this trend has been encouraged and promoted by many global companies.

The concept of digital nomadism focuses on a lifestyle and work that can be considered nomadic in the sense that it does not depend on a fixed location and allows freedom to move around for extended periods of time.

Digital nomads are people who use technology to work remotely and their work depends exclusively on the use of the electronic means available to them.

The number of digital nomads has been growing as a result of the pandemic and the limitations on the movement of people due to the lockdown measures that have been put into place. As a result, this seems like the right moment to look at the implications the arrival in Portugal of digital nomads will have in many areas of the law.

  1. Employment law issues

Given the breadth of the concept of digital nomadism, it covers va r ious models of employment relationships, each with its own specific characteristics.

In this newsletter, we will only consider the situation of employees who work remotely.

The place of work is a very significant issue in the employment relationship. Accordingly, there are legal restrictions on the possibility of the employer changing it definitively or temporarily when there is no provision for a change.

Of course, there are situations where, due to the nature of the employees’ duties, they may have non-fixed or mobile workplaces. In any case, in these situations, it is the employer exercising their management power that determines the place(s) where the employee must perform the employmentcontract.

In the case of digital nomads, due to the characteristics of the work they do, the place of work becomes irrelevant to the proper performance of the employment contract. Therefore, it is possible, with a greater or lesser degree of freedom, for the employee to choose where to work.

There is no specific legislation governing this type of employment relationship and therefore the general rules applicable to ordinary employment contracts apply.

Therefore, in the case of employment situations involving digital nomads, the rules to be observed in this relationship must be established in the employment contract, or in a subsequent agreement.

For example, the rules need to address whether or not the employee is totally free to choose the place where work is being performed, or whether this depends on an agreement with the employer. These rules also need to address whether the employee’s margin of freedom to choose the place of work is limited to a certain territorial area (within the country, in certain countries, in the EU) and whether the employer’s agreement is required to choose such place of work in a different country/city which was not previously defined.

For example, the rules may also regulate responsibility for payment of expenses incurred by the employee as a result of successive changes in place of work and of “residence”.


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