BRUSSELS (UPI) —
After weeks of discussions, the Belgian government announced Tuesday that employees in that country will be able to request a four-day workweek from their employer, without losing any salary.
The country’s new labor deal
gives employees the option to work longer days, which would equate to a three-day weekend.
Employers are able to turn down the request but must give a written reason
detailing why they are denying it.
The rule is part of Belgium’s new labor deal, which was passed by the country’s ruling coalition government.
Belgium has been considering the idea
publicly since October, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also with a desire to increase workplace flexibility.
In general, the new laws allow for more flexibility on both working hours and location for employees.
Employees can work a maximum of 9.5 hours per day. They are allowed to seek an extension permitting 10 hours per day if both the company and labor union agree.
“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,” said Prime Minister Alexander de Croo.
“Although the coronavirus is widely seen as having a negative impact on employees, it has forced us to work more flexibly and combine our private and working lives. This has led to new ways of working,” de Croo said.
Belgium isn’t the first country to adopt a four-day workweek.
Iceland conducted a successful trial
of a 36-hour workweek between 2015 and 2019, with about 85% of its working population now choosing that option.
Reporting by Simon Druker
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