Belgium approves four-day week and gives employees the right to ignore their bosses after work

According to a set of labor market reforms unveiled on Tuesday, employees in Belgium will soon have the option of working four days each week.

Workers will also be granted the freedom to switch off work-related gadgets and disregard work-related messages after hours without fear of retaliation as part of the reform package approved by the nation's multi-party coalition government.

"We have had two challenging years. We created a lighthouse for a more inventive, sustainable, and digital economy with this agreement. Making people and companies stronger is the goal "Alexander de Croo, the prime minister of Belgium, announced the reform package during a news conference.

Under the new regulations, gig economy workers will also have more legal safeguards, while full-time employees will be able to request flexible work hours.

The proposed legislation must pass many readings by federal MPs before being approved, so it might take months to implement the modifications.

Work-life harmony

Work-life balance is one of the major issues affected by Belgium's recent labor changes, which affect both public and private sector workers.

Employees will have the option to seek a four-day workweek under the draft reform proposal approved by the nation's federal government.

According to Belgian Labor Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne, "This needs to be done at the request of the employee, with the employer presenting strong reasons for any denial."

Employees will be allowed to request to work four days a week for a period of six months, a government spokeswoman revealed to Euronews Next. After then, they would have no reason to stop the agreement or go back to working a five-day week.

They explained that they set a six-month timeframe so that an employee wouldn't be trapped for too long if they made the incorrect decision.

Employees might reduce the present five-day workweek to four days under the Belgian system. In reality, this entails continuing to work a 38-hour workweek, with an extra day off to make up for longer workdays.

Additionally, employees will be able to ask for flexible work schedules. Companies are now required to give schedules at least seven days in advance, altering the minimum notice time for shifts as well.

According to Dermagne in a statement, the suggestions would be especially beneficial for separated or divorced parents who split custody of their children since they would allow them to spend more time with their kids.

Drop the phone.

Federal government employees in Belgium were granted the freedom to disconnect in January, enabling them to switch off work equipment and disregard messages after hours without facing repercussions from their superiors.

According to Dermagne on Tuesday, all workers in Belgium, even those employed in the private sector, will henceforth have the same rights.

"The line separating work and personal life is become ever more permeable. The worker's physical and mental health may be negatively impacted by these persistent demands "explained he.

In reality, all firms with more than 20 employees will be subject to the new rule. It will be up to employers to bargain with labor unions to incorporate the freedom to disconnect in collective bargaining agreements.

Platform employment rules

With employees for platforms like Uber, Deliveroo, and Just Eat Takeaway gaining insurance against job-related injuries and clearer laws defining who is - and is not - self-employed, the reform package also specifically targets the gig economy.

The newly enacted labor laws in Belgium complement a planned European Union rule that outlines five standards for determining whether or not gig workers can be classified as employees.
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