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New labour policy: Employees in Belgium to now work 4 day a week

Belgium’s government agreed to a new labour agreement earlier this week, allowing its employees to work four days a week in an effort to introduce flexibility to the country’s tight labour market.

The news:  With this new change, Belgium has joined an ever-growing list of countries that now provide a four-day workweek.

  • Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the development is part of a significant COVID-era shake-up of labour laws after his seven-party coalition federal government reached an agreement overnight.
  • The most major shift is the freedom to turn off work gadgets and reject business-related messages and calls after hours without fear of retaliation. According to NDTV, the initiatives aim to improve Belgian inhabitants’ quality of life by providing a better work-life balance. 
  • Employees would be able to work 38 hours over four days instead of five, allowing them to have permanent long weekends or a day off to care for their children without incurring any financial penalties.
  •  Employees could also use the flexibility principle to work longer hours one week and have a much lighter week the following.
  • Any request, however, must be accepted by the boss. Employees in large firms, whose workloads may be more easily distributed, would have access to such managed flexibility.
  •  The adjustments will not be enacted immediately, according to the federal government document. Unions will have a say on a draft bill before any amendments are made, and the legislation will be scrutinised by the Council of State before the parliament votes. 
  • The United Arab Emirates became the first country to implement a four-day workweek in December 2021. In September of last year, Scotland began a four-day workweek trial. Iceland, Japan, and Spain have all stated that they will experiment with four-day work weeks in 2021.
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