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Belgium to Implement Four-Day Work Week

Credit: Unsplash

This morning, the Belgian government announced a series of sweeping labor reforms that seek to make businesses more sustainable, and reduce stress and pressure on the Belgian workforce. The major talking points of the reforms are the reduction of the national work work from five days down to four days, and that workers have the right to refuse any work-related communications after-hours.

“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,” Belgian prime minister Alexander de Croo said at a press conference.

However, the four-day work week will not be implemented on a universal basis. Rather, an employee would need to specifically request a four-day work week and provide a reason for wanting one. Should a worker adopt the four-day work week, they would need to work more hours the other four days. The worker would remain on the four-day work week for six months, at which point they will be able to reaffirm their desire for the shortened work week, or return to a five-day work week. Either way, the worker would face no repercussions for their decision.

For the right to refuse after-work communications, also known as the right to disconnect, all Belgian workers in both public and private sectors will have full rights to ignore any messages from bosses and managers after work hours have concluded for the day.

“The boundary between work and private life is becoming increasingly porous. These incessant demands can harm the physical and mental health of the worker,” said Belgian labor minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne.

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