The false four-day work week in Belgium: ten hours from Monday to Thursday to take Friday off

The Belgian government has reached an agreement with the different regions of the country to undertake the reform of the law that regulates its labor market, according to De Standaard. Among the various novelties introduced in the new text, the four-day working week stands out, a model that resonates strongly in many parts of the world, including Spain. However, this Belgian four-day shift has a catch, because it doesn’t mean working less, but putting in more hours on fewer days.

Work less to produce the same. The principles of the four-day work week establish that the effective application of this model must lead to a reduction in the hours worked without a reduction in wages or a reduction in the productivity of the company. Advocates of this new working day argue that reducing working time makes employees less tired, which benefits their productivity and makes them perform better in less time.

Whether this is really the case or not, the truth is that in no way can a four-day work week be considered if you work ten hours a day from Monday to Thursday to take Friday off. A four-day working week also cannot be considered if employees’ wages are reduced for working shorter hours. Thus, compressing more hours into fewer days is the complete opposite of what advocates of this model want.

What Belgium really offers. Although the reform envisages the possibility of concentrating the working day over four days, this option is in fact part of a broader measure which aims to give workers more flexibility in setting their working hours. But the day is not reduced. Thus, Belgians can also choose to work more a week to rest every day, but in the overall calculation they must add 40 hours per week.

Bad for your health. Beyond the fact that the measure envisaged by the labor reform in Belgium cannot be considered a four-day working week, Belgians should be careful if they intend to work more from Monday to Thursday until Friday free, as various studies advise against it. . Many of these surveys indicate that the optimal number of daily working hours is seven or eight, although there are others that significantly reduce this figure.

What they all agree on is that exceeding the limit of eight hours of work per day is dangerous for health, since it increases the risk of cardiovascular problems, overweight or mental health. A threat that increases considerably if the professional exceeds 10 hours of work per day.

Pictures | Yannis Papanastasopoulos


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Maria D. Ervin