New rules allow 2 days off per week

A four-day workweek will officially become a reality for some Belgian workers when new labor reforms come into force this week.

These reforms would allow workers to divide the week into four days by working nine and a half hours instead of seven and a half hours. The total working hours will be the same, but those who can choose this option will have her 3 days on weekends.

There is also the idea that workers may work more in one week and less in the next, allowing workers to take advantage of more flexible hours and enjoy an extra day off.

There are two main modalities endorsed in the February agreement. A person can complete her 38 hour week in 4 days instead of 5 days. Or he could work 45 hours a week and the next week he could work 31 hours. .

“This will allow us to better reconcile our personal and professional lives,” said Pierre-Yves Delmagne (PS), noting that the pandemic has greatly alleviated this need.

Employees wishing to adopt one of these modified schedules must submit a written request to their employer, who must respond within one month.

In case of refusal, the reason must be given. These can include disruptions in work organization (especially in teamwork).

Before the measures come into force, you will need to amend your company’s working rules if your working hours are 38 hours a week, or sign a collective bargaining agreement if your full-time work week is considered to be 40 hours.

If agreed, the employee’s employment contract is valid for six months and can be renewed as many times as necessary.

Your salary will remain the same, but benefits related to working days (such as meal vouchers) may change. However, you can adjust it so that it is tied to the number of hours worked in a month instead of the number of days.

Unlike other experiments of collective reductions in working hours previously conducted, no subsidies or reductions in social security contributions were allowed to support the measures.

Reactions to the four-day work week have been mixed.

According to a survey of 1,340 Belgian employers conducted in October by Securex and released last week, only half of employers believe it will have a positive impact on employee wellbeing.

About 23.3% of employers surveyed believe that a four-day workweek actually has a negative impact on their health. Just under a third (31.6%) believe there will be a positive impact on productivity, while 35.7% expect a negative impact.

A quarter (25.7%) of respondents said their company requires 4 days a week, mainly because some industries (such as hotels and catering) require 5 working days or the business impact is too great. It states that day shifts are not applicable.

Trade unions have raised concerns that a four-day workweek does not actually reduce stress or workload, in fact it just makes both days worked higher.

Michael Dufrasne, Brussels regional secretary of the CGSLB trade union, was dubious but said the important thing was to ensure workers’ freedom of choice.

“The number of inability to work is exploding, and a large proportion of this inability to work is associated with burnout,” Dufrasne said.

“Will the idea of ​​making people work longer have a beneficial effect? ​​Perhaps for some. Yes, you have to add travel time, it can be a very long day, the contract here is for six months, the possibility of stepping back is important to us.”

A four-day work week is currently only possible for private sector employees and is not mandatory. New rules allow 2 days off per week

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