Workers in Belgium now have the right to switch to a four-day week. However, the 4 day week is typically 4x10 hour days.
4 Day Work Week in Belgium
Although workers in Belgium have traditionally worked a 5 day work week, in early 2022, the Belgian government introduced a new labor market reform that allows workers to choose to work a 4 day work week.
Workers are still expected to maintain the same amount of hours, but now have the option to work 4 ten hour days. Workers are allowed to ask their employers for a six month trial period of the 4 day work week, after which they can choose to go back to the traditional 5 day work week if they prefer.
Working Hours in Belgium
In Belgium, the traditional work week is 38 hours, although this number can vary based on agreements between employees and their employers. In principle, workers cannot be expected to work longer than 38 hours per week on average. If a worker chooses to work more, they are allotted additional vacation days, but the overall number of hours can’t exceed 40 per week.
There are also many labor laws in place to protect workers, such as a ban on night work that requires work to be completed between 6 AM and 8 PM, with some exceptions. Overtime work is also heavily compensated for. If a worker is required to work on a Sunday or public holiday, they are compensated up to 200% of their normal pay.
Vacation Policy in Belgium
Workers in Belgium are granted vacation time based on the amount of days they work. For example, someone who works a 5 day work week would receive 20 paid days of vacation, while someone who works 6 days per week would be granted 24 days of vacation.
In addition, workers are entitled to 10 paid days off for public holidays which are as follows:
- New Year's Day: January 1st
- Easter Monday: the day after Easter Sunday
- Labor Day: May 1st
- Ascension Day: 40 days after Easter
- Whit Monday: 50 days after Easter
- Belgian National Day: July 21st
- Assumption Day: August 15th
- All Saints' Day: November 1st
- Armistice Day: November 11th
- Christmas Day: December 25th
If a public holiday falls on a day the employee would not normally work, the employer must grant an additional day to the employee.
Part Time Working in Belgium
As of 2021, approximately 26% of Belgium’s workforce was made up of part time workers. Over the past decade, this number has remained mostly stagnant, only increasing by less than 2% since 2008.
The percentage of part time workers varies by industry, with nearly half of all part time workers working in the health and social work sector, and less than 10% working in construction as of 2021.
About 42% of women in Belgium’s workforce are part time workers, with 24.6% of these women listing childcare as the reason for working part time.
Remote Working in Belgium
Before Covid-19, remote working was rare in Belgium, with only about 10% of employees telecommuting on a daily basis. During the pandemic, Belgian employees were required to work remotely during several periods of high infection.
Since then, remote work has become popular in Belgium. In a recent survey, 46% of Belgians stated that their employers allow them to work from home, with 41% choosing to work from home at least one day a week.