The government of Belgium is moving ahead with plans to formally introduce a four day week in the country.
Under a series of labour market reforms, announced yesterday, works in Belgium will soon be allowed to opt for a shorter work week or more flexible schedules.
Moreover, the proposals create a right for Belgians to switch off their devices and ignore any work-related messages after hours without fear of reprisal.
Alexander de Croo, Belgium’s prime minister, told a press conference yesterday: “We have experienced two difficult years. With this agreement, we set a beacon for an economy that is more innovative, sustainable and digital. The aim is to be able to make people and businesses stronger.”
The reform package also includes stronger legal protection for Belgians working in the gig economy.
Workers in the gig economy will also receive stronger legal protections under the new rules, while full-time employees will be able to work flexible schedules on demand.
In practice, those who will opt for a shorter, 38-hour work week will be expected to work longer hours on the four remaining days, most likely 9.5 hours per day.
Last month, a four-day working week six-month pilot programme launched in the UK.
Participating companies and organisations will trial a four-day week with no loss in pay for employees based on the principle of the 100:80:100 model.
This entails 100 per cent of the pay for 80 per cent of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100 per cent productivity.
The trial is organised by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with leading think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign and researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College.
The UK pilot will run in parallel with similar programmes run by 4 Day Week Global that are taking place this year in the USA, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The governments of Scotland and Spain have also launched trials of the four-day week, according to a statement.
Researchers will work with each participating organisation to measure the impact on productivity in the business and the wellbeing of its workers, as well as the impact on the environment and gender equality.
Numerous studies have shown that moving to a four-day week boosts productivity and workers’ wellbeing, the organisers claim.
n November, Atom Bank became the largest UK four-day week employer with all 430 staff moving to a four-day, 34 hour working week, with no reduction in pay.
Joe O’Connor, Pilot Programme Manager for 4 Day Week Global, said: “More and more businesses are moving to productivity focused strategies to enable them to reduce worker hours without reducing pay.