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Belgium: towards a 4-day working week?

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More flexibility to organize your work week while working the same number of hours. Presented this Tuesday, February 15 by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, the new labor market reform project in Belgium paved the way for the four-day week in companies.

Via a press release, Alexander De Croo presented a reform project, which will be examined by the social partners and then by Parliament, containing numerous measures to make the labor market in Belgium more flexible. The objective set by the Belgian executive is clear: to achieve an employment rate of 80% in 2030, against 71% currently.

While an initiative will be tested in around fifty companies in the United Kingdom from June, the Belgian government has announced its intention to integrate the four-day week into the labor code.

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“People who wish will be able to work more hours per day in exchange for an extra day off during the week. Thus, they will be able to do full-time work in four days,” explained the leader of the government coalition.

To give employees more flexibility, this proposal would make it possible to work “a little more one week and a little less the next, which offers some flexibility to people in a co-parenting situation”, continued Alexander De Croo.

Employer consent required

In order to limit abuses, the Belgian government has opted for a maximum limit of 45 hours of work per week and for a compulsory agreement given by the employer to take advantage of this system. Nevertheless, the latter will have to justify his refusal in the event of opposition on this subject with one of his employees.

Other measures allowing greater flexibility of the labor market have been proposed by the Belgian executive, such as the institutionalization of the “right to disconnect”, measures encouraging the return to employment of those made redundant and an extension of the right to training, climbing 3 to 5 days per year for each employee. Requested for a long time by many employers, the relaxation of night work, particularly in the distribution sector, will be promoted.

According to the OECD, the average working week in Belgium is 35.5 hours, compared to 36.3 hours in Great Britain, 36.5 hours in France and 38.7 hours in the United States.

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