Full-time independent workers in Belgium work more hours per week than their European counterparts, data by European statistics office Eurostat shows.
The data, obtained by outlets L’Echo and De Tijd, shows that with an average of 59.6 hours clocked in every week, Belgians are far ahead of the bloc’s weekly average, which stands at 47 hours.
Besides Belgians, only Austrian and Greek independents work over 50 hours a week, with a weekly average of 51.8 and 50.8 hours, respectively.
In contrast, a full-time employee or public servant in Belgium works an average of 39 hours a week.
Without fixed working hours, most self-employed workers’ monthly revenue is variable, which could explain the longer work weeks.
The number of self-employed workers in Belgium has been steadily increasing since 2002, attaining over one million independent workers in 2017.
However, 2016 statistics showed that one in six independents earned less €12,500 euro, effectively placing them beneath the poverty line.
Last year, Prime Minister Charles Michel and King Philippe took part in a ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the status in Belgium, where plans to advance the social progress of this particular status were laid out.
As the number of people that are self-employed continues to grow, authorities have been taking steps to improve their working conditions.
Measures that came into effect in May mean that self-employed workers are now able to benefit from paternity leave. In Brussels, 1819.be is a business resource for entrepeneurs and people seeking guidance to become self-employed.