Belgian workers will be able to choose a four-day work week and ignore work-related calls after work hours following new workplace reforms.
The reform package aims to provide more legal protection for both gig workers and full-time employees, which are transitioning to a more modern way of working in a post-pandemic economy.
“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 Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo.
However, it may take months for the reforms to be placed within legislation and enacted as it must go through several reviews from lawmakers.
As part of the package, employees will have the ability to request a four-day work week for six months, and after that can continue to work with this schedule or return to a five-day arrangement.
“The period of six months was chosen so that an employee would not be stuck for too long in case of a wrong choice,” a government spokesperson said.
In addition to the four-day work week option, both private sector businesses with over 20 employees and federal workers will be granted the ability to turn off work devices and ignore messages after work hours without any repercussions.
According to Pierre-Yves Dermagne, Belgium’s labour minister, this reform aims to help employees achieve a healthier work-life balance and cited how “incessant demands can harm the physical and mental health” of workers.