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Belgium's decision to work 4 days a week: No one was in demand

Few of the employees showed interest in the "4 days a week" model, which started in Belgium in November. Experts said there are two main reasons for this situation.

Belgium became the first country in the European Union (EU) to allow employees to complete their weekly working hours in 4 days instead of 5, with the practice that started in November 2022.

However, according to research by human resources consulting firm Securex, only 0.73 percent of full-time workers in Belgium are currently working 4 days a week.

This rate is lower in companies with less than 1000 employees. While 0.45 percent of the employees in these companies prefer to work for 4 days, the rate rises to 0.75 percent in companies where the number is more than 1000.

It was surprising that the application, which was expected to be very popular before its launch, was not preferred.

Photo: Wix


Two main reasons were cited in Securex's research. The first of these is that employees are not yet convinced of the benefits of the 4-day working system. The other is that working for 4 days, especially in companies with few employees, causes administrative and organizational damage.

Speaking to the Belgian newspaper L'Echo, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Labor said that the government's aim when making this legal regulation was not to ensure that everyone had to work for 4 days, but to present it as an option.

Ministry official, "This application is up to the preference of the employees. Switching to working for 4 days should be a decision taken in consultation as a result of the employees conveying their request to the employer. It is normal for such an application to be implemented gradually." said.

With the regulation put into effect by the Belgian government at the end of last year, employees can complete the 38-hour working week in 4 days instead of 5, if they wish and agree with the employer. Those who can take advantage of this opportunity can take a 3-day weekend leave or use an extra 1-day leave during the week.

This opportunity can continue for 6 months as a result of an agreement with the employer. The agreement can be continued by mutual agreement at the end of 6 months. Employers have the right to refuse such a request. However, the refusal is required to be based on a justified reason.

Some organizations criticized the practice and drew attention to the drawbacks of concentrating the workload on 4 days instead of 5 days in terms of workplaces. In addition, it was stated that employees could spend a long time outside the home together with the time spent on their way home after working long hours, and this could have negative effects.

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