Employment Advice

Belgium to introduce a 4-day working week

Last week it was announced that employees in Belgium will have the right to work a four-day week without a reduction in pay, under a government overhaul of the country’s laws prompted by the Covid pandemic.

22 Feb 2022

Team name
Danielle Ward

Danielle Ward

The opportunity for employees to work longer days to allow them an extra day off each week was among a package of economic reforms agreed last Tuesday.

Whilst Companies can turn down a request for a condensed working week they will need to justify their response in writing.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo, said: “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.”

The move is part of a series of measures, which also include staff being able to completely log off and ignore their bosses once the working day ends.

Those who want to work the adjusted hours will need to make a request and, after six months, if they do not get on with the changes, can go back to the five-day week should they wish.

Four-day working weeks were trialled in Iceland between 2015 and 2019 and have since become the choice of 85% of the country.

Here in the UK, some companies have been offering four-day weeks to staff for the past six months to promote a better work-life balance.

M&P Commentary

Danielle Ward, employment Solicitor at Mullis & Peake LLP, said:

“A four day working week could be a fantastic step forward for businesses and could help to improve employees’ wellbeing and work-life balance.

“Businesses should be careful however to ensure that staff aren’t working excessively on the 4 days that they are working, causing extra stress. This would defeat the object of flexible working which is designed to improve working conditions and ultimately morale.”

If you have any queries around flexible working or employment law in general please contact Danielle Ward on 01708 784060.


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