A short week does not excite the Belgians


AGI – In Belgium, only a fraction of full-time employees currently work four days a week, although the law has allowed it since November last year. Taking into account the balance between the “activities”, the short working week does not seem to excite the Belgian employee much, as it was only chosen by a percentage of between 0.5% and 1%. Only according to a recent survey by Securex, an employment consultancy one worker out of 200 he applied it.

The study, based on a sample of more than 120,000 workers, also found that the percentage of employees choosing a shorter work week barely increased this year, from 0.45% in January to 0.52% in November. Even lower is the balance sheet of consultancy firm Acerta, which said last month that only 0.73% of Belgians now work four days a week, or one in 130.

Under conditions Employment agreement of the federal government, which was implemented in November 2022, full-time workers in the Belgian private sector could legally request to spread their weekly working time (which remains 38 hours) to four days instead of five (therefore they work nine and a half hours a day), maintaining full salary ei benefits.

In addition, the employment agreement allows employees to work alternating intensity weeks, meaning a five-day 45-hour week followed by another 31-hour week spread over four days. According to Securex, there are several possible reasons behind this trend: the first is pressure from employers, of which more than a quarter (25.7%) believe that a shorter working week is inappropriate or even harmful to their business. The second reason is the ignorance of the employees of the program and their belief that any request for it can simply be rejected by their boss.

The survey also showed that 77.6% of Belgian workers who chose this option did so to have more space for their private life, 36.5% to reduce workload and 29.3% to spend more time with your children.

The short week was also overwhelmingly chosen by young workers, as 47.6% of those aged 20 to 30 would prefer not to work a traditional five-day work week, according to the survey. According to Acerta expert Annelies Bries, the relatively slow rate of adoption can be attributed to the unfamiliarity and novelty of the scheme, as well as the lack of administrative tools for its effective implementation, which could threaten business continuity. The Belgium was the first European country to adopt a short week, followed by other countries such as Iceland, Lithuania, Germany and France. This option is also active in the United Arab Emirates in Japan.

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