Carmarthenshire MP Jonathan Edwards has called on the UK Government to follow the lead of countries such as Portugal, France, Italy, Spain and Slovakia in introducing protections for remote workers in the digital age.

Mr Edwards said that the increasing importance of remote working required protections for workers in order to preserve a distinction between work and leisure time.

“Communication technology has developed incredibly in recent years and will develop even further in the years to come," he said.

"Instant Messaging services in particular means that it can be very difficult for people to switch off outside working hours if their employer or fellow workers make contact.

“Increased remote or hybrid working following the pandemic also blurs the boundaries between work time and non-working time.

"There is also an argument that workers should receive remuneration for increased utility costs if they work from home.

“There are big issues to consider here such as worker burn out and long-term productivity.

"Preserving a healthy work-life balance is vital for mental health for example.

“Labour laws need to move with the times. Many other European countries have recognised the need to protect their workers and the UK Government should do the same.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a prior trend toward the digitalisation of work and more flexible work arrangements across the world..

Workers’ "right to disconnect" — allowing staff to ignore work matters outside formal working hours — was adopted before the pandemic in countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Belgium.

And Portugal’s new law on working from home says that companies can’t attempt to contact their staff outside working hours, and they must help staff pay for their heating, electric and internet bills.