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Belgian workers will now be able to opt for a four-day week without a salary decrease as the country’s government is pushing for labor reforms prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, the Guardian reported.
Under the new regulations, employees can ask their employers for a condensed work week to secure a three-day weekend. Companies also have the opportunity to reject these requests but will need to justify their responses in writing.
The recent overhaul is part of the coalition government’s package of economic reforms, which also includes a “right to disconnect” and new rules on working at night.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the changes are aimed at generating a more dynamic and productive economy. He added that the government wants to encourage more people to work: Currently, less than 72 percent of people between the ages of 20 to 64 are employed.
The government wants to increase that to 80 percent by 2030.
Meanwhile, the reform package also grants gig economy workers – such as Deliveroo couriers or Uber drivers – employee rights more quickly under a new approach to self-employment based in part on European Commission recommendations for so-called platform or gig work.
Elsewhere in Europe, the four-day workweek has become the preference for most employees in Iceland. The country experimented with the shorter workweek between 2015 and 2019.
Next year, Scotland will start a six-month trial of a four-day workweek with the government providing roughly $14 million to participating businesses.