Belgian workers are now being able to ask for a four-day workweek without any deductions to their salaries. The Belgian government has recently changed its labor practices, on Tuesday, and has become the latest nation to offer such a shortened workweek. The deduction was in response to the pandemic and aimed to reduce stress and burnout in the workspace.
The coalition government had agreed to pass the package of reforms which included the option for workers to work longer hours during the week in order to avail themselves of a 3-day weekend.
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Employers would also be able to reject a worker’s request for the four-day work week, where they would work the same amount of hours as in a five-day workweek, but they will be required to justify their reasoning in writing.
This major change had come after Iceland had implemented theirs from 2015 to 2019, which was dubbed as an “overwhelming success”. Around 86% of Iceland’s workforce are working in a short workweek or have gained the right to reduce their hours.
Japan had proposed the same last year to fight again overwork and burnout in their country. Other European governments like Scotland and Spain had announced their own plans to try 4-day workweeks without any repercussions.
The Belgian PM Aimed To Create A Productive Economy By Reducing The Workweek
Alexander De Croo, the Belgian Prime Minister, had stated in a press conference that the reforms were aimed at creating a dynamic and productive economy. He added, “If you compare our country with others, you’ll often see we’re far less dynamic. After two difficult years, the labor market has evolved.”
“With this agreement, we set a beacon for an economy that is more innovative, sustainable, and digital.”
Civil employees who were working under the federal government for Belgium were allowed to switch off their working devices and ignore their messages without any consequences, as reported by Euronews. As per the labor reform package on Tuesday, all Belgium workers (including the ones in the private sector) are to have the same right.
The need for a four-day workweek has received worldwide recognition.
The 4 Day Week Global pilot program has enrolled 35 North American companies and more than 20 international companies and countries are testing a four-day workweek, where about 2,000 workers are to receive a paid day off weekly throughout the trial.
The UAE has also announced that it would implement the 4 and a half day workweek to keep up with the market globally by December.
Mark Takano, US, introduced legislation to reduce the standard workweek to 32 hours, from the previous 40 hours. He also cited pilot programs that were funded by the government, across the world, which showed signs of a better balance between work and personal life. The pilot programs also saw lesser sick days, lower costs in childcare and heightened morale among the participants.