Labor & Workforce

Belgium government approves 4-day working week

Brussels, Feb 15 (EFE) – The Belgian government on Tuesday reached an agreement on labor reforms that includes the possibility of a four-day working week or flexible hours to “give more freedom to workers,” said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

De Croo and his cabinet of ministers aim to make the labor market more flexible so that Belgium can reach an 80% employment rate by 2030.

The employment rate currently stands at 71% in Belgium, with strong regional disparities between the more affluent Flemish-speaking north and French-speaking south, according to public broadcaster RTBF.

De Croo told a press conference that the government had taken into account lessons learned during the pandemic, during which remote working has either been mandatory or strongly recommended.

The deputy prime minister and head of Economy and Employment, the French-speaking Socialist Pierre-Yves Dermagne, said on Twitter that the deal contains “concrete advances for all workers.”

Specifically, he said that the right to training will be strengthened, workers on digital platforms (such as Uber) will be better protected, more guarantees will be given to reconcile professional and family life and more jobs will be created.

One of the main measures included in the agreement is that workers will be able to choose to concentrate their working hours into four days a week, allowing them to take the fifth day off.

Employees will also be able to opt for a variable weekly regime, working more hours one week and having more time off the next.

The deal also tackles evening employment (between 8 p.m. and midnight) for e-commerce companies, in order to better protect workers on platforms such as Uber or Deliveroo.

Those who have given or received a notice of dismissal will, in addition, be able to start working for another company during that period.

Another aspect of the agreement is the extension of the right to disconnect outside working hours so that employees are not under “pressure to respond to messages or emails”. EFE


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