‘Out of the question’ to relax teleworking rules now, says Vandenbroucke
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‘Out of the question’ to relax teleworking rules now, says Vandenbroucke

Credit: Belga

It is “out of the question” that Belgium will start relaxing teleworking measures, according to Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, who even announced stricter controls.

Amid calls to allow employees to go back to work at least one day a week, Vandenbroucke stated that this is not an option yet, considering the current epidemiological situation.

“We will be doing more checks on telework again in the coming weeks, on the work floor,” he told VRT NWS. “I ask employers not to put employees under pressure to come to work.”

The announcement follows a study by Idewe, an independent consultancy on safety and protection at work, which showed that about half of all people working from home report mental and/or physical complaints as a direct result of the now almost year-long obligation.

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The main physical issues are neck and back pain due to poor posture when working at a badly-adjusted home desk, while mental problems usually take the form of stress or anxiety from an unfamiliar working and the blurred line between home and work.

Earlier this week, virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht said that while working from home is “not always easy or pleasant,” it continues to be “one of the most important measures to control the pandemic.”

“In this final phase of the pandemic, remote working is still a basic condition to allow the easing of restrictions in other areas,” he said, adding that he understands it is becoming “increasingly hard” to keep it up.

Van Gucht also stressed that the obligation to telework is not going to last. “However, in anticipation of a further roll-out of the vaccination campaign, it remains an important basic rule.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times