We previously wrote about Belgium passing a law that would make it illegal for employers to contact workers after hours. Now, in a similar attempt to encourage a healthier work-life balance, the country’s multi-party coalition government has passed an entire reform package that would give employees the option to work four days per week instead of five.
“We have experienced two difficult years. With this agreement, we set a beacon for an economy that is more innovative, sustainable, and digital. The aim is to be able to make people and businesses stronger,” said Belgian prime minister Alexander de Croo.
As part of the new legislation, gig economy workers will also benefit from more robust legal protections, while full-time workers will have the option to work flexible hours if they wish to. Particularly, workers both in the private and public sector will be able to request a four-day week. “This has to be done at the request of the employee, with the employer giving solid reasons for any refusal,” explained Belgian labor minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne.
Under the new system, employees will be able to condense the five-day week into four days, meaning that they would still work a 38-hour working week, but get an extra day off to compensate for the longer workdays. Those opting for such a work schedule would first start with a period of six months, after which they could choose whether to extend it or not.
Additionally, workers will be able to request variable work schedules, and there will also be a minimum notice period for shifts of seven days. “This would benefit those who wish to spend more time with their children,” said Dermagne, adding that the changes will be particularly helpful for single parents who share custody of their children