Background: The Belgian “Labour Deal”
On October 3rd, 2022, Belgium passed its so called “Labour Deal.” The goal of the Labour Deal is twofold: increasing the employment rate and providing workers with new opportunities to improve their work-life balance (and thus reduce the high burnout rate). “The goal is to give people and companies more freedom to arrange their work time,” Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in February 2022. “If you compare our country with others, you’ll often see we’re far less dynamic.” Belgium has set itself the objective of an employment rate of of 80% for people aged 20-64 by 2030. In order to achieve that objective, more than 540,000 additional people need to be employed, as reported by the Belgian statistical office. Given the limited number of unemployed people (272,000), inactive people will have to be (re)employed.
A part of the Labour Deal was the introduction of the 4-day work week, which provides full-time workers the right to request a 4-day work week. It allows both white-collar and blue-collar workers to work their usual hours in four longer workdays instead of five, while maintaining their current weekly working time and salary. A worker working 38 hours per week would thus be able to work 9.5 hours per day for 4 days and have an extra day off, without losing pay.