Very few Belgians opt for four-day work week despite 2022 Labour Deal

Very few Belgians opt for four-day work week despite 2022 Labour Deal
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The November 2022 Labour Deal gave employees the opportunity to work four days a week instead of the traditional five to allow for a greater work-life balance. But both Belgian employees and employers have been slow to adopt the new work pattern.

According to a survey conducted by the HR service company Acerta, only 0.8% of Belgian employees have transitioned to the full-time four-day work week since the 2022 Labour Deal. This equates to one in 130 full-time workers.

But whilst the actual number who follow the four-day week remains low, the proportion of staff that have taken up the new routine has increased 56.5% since the start of the year. Employees work either 9.5 hours a day for a 38-hour workweek, or 10 hours a day for a 40-hour workweek.

For those who have taken up the shorter workweek, 77.6% do so to have more room for their private lives, 36.5% to reduce their workload, and 29.3% to spend more time with their children.

Sticking with old ways?

The trend is slow but increasing. Though small to medium enterprises remain sceptical, large companies have been more willing to adopt the system, with a whopping 10.9% of companies with at least 500 employees leaning into the scheme, and up to 16.5% for even larger ones.

It seems the driving factor behind the adoption of four-day workweeks might be the young employees: the survey reports that 47.6% of 20 to 30-year-old employees, in fact, would prefer not to work the traditional five-day workweek.

"Flexibility in the workplace has never been more important than now. The same working method no longer works for everyone, companies must be aware of this," Acerta expert Annelies Bries writes in the report. According to Bries, the relatively slow adoption rate could be attributed to the scheme's unfamiliarity and newness, in addition to a lack of administrative tools to implement it efficiently, which could threaten business continuity.

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