Belgians were given the right to demand a FOUR-DAY work week

Belgians were given the right to demand a FOUR-DAY work week

Belgium became the first European country to allow private sector workers to require a four-day work week.

Full-time workers are expected to work the same number of hours, but can reduce their five-day work week from Monday to Friday to four days if they can negotiate this with their employers.

According to Pierre-Yves Derman, the Belgian labor minister behind market reform, bosses will have to provide “good reasons for any refusal”.

He said the change would benefit those “who want to spend more time with their children.”

People aiming for a four-day work week will have to work up to ten hours a day to make up for 38 hours a week.

Unions are reportedly unsure about “flex” proposals, as having to work longer hours per day would be similar to shift work.

The concept of reducing the working week to four days was considered in a number of countries around the world, including the UK, New Zealand, Spain and Iceland, where trials were conducted between 2015 and 2019.

Belgium became the first European country to allow private sector workers to require a four-day work week.

Belgium became the first European country to allow private sector workers to require a four-day work week.

The proposed workday reduction was designed to offer employees flexible hours and increased productivity during work hours after the coronavirus lockdowns forced large numbers of employees to reassess the difficult work-life balance.

According to The Times, Mr Derman referred to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on workers and said it was about “finding a new balance between professional and personal life.”

He said that the absence of a boundary between work and personal life can “damage the physical and mental health of the worker.”

Pierre-Yves Dermaigne, the Belgian labor minister behind market reform, said bosses would have to provide

Pierre-Yves Dermaigne, the Belgian labor minister behind market reform, said bosses would have to provide “good reasons for any refusal” to an employer seeking a four-day work week.

If a company has more than 20 employees, then, under Belgium’s new proposals, workers will be given the right to “disconnect” after hours, meaning they won’t answer calls or emails.

Joe Ryle, director of the 4 Day Week Campaign in the UK, said he welcomed “flexibility” for workers, but said “compressing” the five-day week to four “is not the solution to burnout, stress and overwork.”

He added: “It is important that the transition to a four-day work week is accompanied by a reduction in working hours without loss of wages for employees. To ensure that the four-day work week is properly implemented and benefits are shared among all workers, unions must be at the center of this transition.”

Pros and cons of a four-day week

Pros:

  • Fewer distractions at work
  • Longer hours don’t mean more productivity
  • Enhancing mental well-being and physical health
  • Parents with children experience less stress
  • Reducing your carbon footprint

Minuses:

  • Not all industries can participate
  • This may increase existing inequalities
  • Cost risk for employers is high
  • In any case, workers can work at the same time
  • Complex team management

Source: Adecco Group

The six-month trial in the UK, led by 4 Day Week Global, began earlier this year and will see staff from 30 different organizations doing the usual amount of work and up to 35 hours a week, but split over four days. not five, for the same salary.

Campaigners calling for fewer work days say it will create a better work-life balance, but critics warn it will lead to more stress as employees try to cram more work into fewer hours.

Joe O’Connor, pilot program manager for 4 Day Week Global, said the concept will “mark a bold new future for work” in 2022.

Morrison is reportedly considering switching to a four-day workweek, while camera company Canon’s UK division is set to take part in a six-month trial, which is also being conducted by scientists from the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, reports the Guardian.

Financial company Atom Bank has already switched to a shorter working week.

Similar experiments are planned to be carried out in the USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and tests are already underway in Spain and Scotland.

In August 2019, Microsoft Japan introduced a four-day week, giving its 2,300 employees five consecutive Fridays off.

The company said productivity jumped 40 percent, meetings became more efficient, and workers, who were also happier, took fewer days off.

In Iceland, between 2015 and 2019, a trial of a four-day work week was carried out, including at the Reykjavík City Council, which the researchers called

In Iceland, between 2015 and 2019, a trial of a four-day work week was carried out, including at the Reykjavík City Council, which the researchers called “a stunning success.” In the photo: Radhus Reykjavikur (Reykjavik City Hall)

Iceland’s four-day workweek trial ends in ‘overwhelming success’

In Iceland, a four-day work week trial was conducted between 2015 and 2019, which the researchers called a “stunning success”.

The jobs that took part, including those in the Reykjavík City Council where the trial was conducted, went from 40 hours a week to 36 or 35 hours, with some reporting increased levels of productivity among employees.

Ultimately, more than 2,500 workers took part in the trial, roughly 1 percent of Iceland’s workforce.

Jobs included preschools, offices, hospitals, and social service providers.

Will Strong, director of research at Autonomy, said: “This study shows that the world’s largest trial of a shorter workweek in the public sector was, by all measures, a resounding success.

“This shows that the public sector is ripe to be a pioneer in shortening the workweek and lessons can be learned for other governments.”

Nine out of ten employees at the company said they would prefer a shorter workweek and other benefits, including a 23% reduction in weekly electricity consumption and a 59% reduction in the number of pages printed by employees, which was also welcomed by employers.

In Iceland, a four-day work week trial was conducted between 2015 and 2019, which the researchers called a “stunning success”.

The jobs that took part, including those in the Reykjavík City Council where the trial was conducted, went from 40 hours a week to 36 or 35 hours, with some reporting increased levels of productivity among employees.

Ultimately, more than 2,500 workers took part in the trial, roughly 1 percent of Iceland’s workforce.

Jobs included preschools, offices, hospitals, and social service providers.

The researchers argue that the benefits of a four-day work week will also make employees more efficient at doing their jobs for their employers.

While campaigners are pushing for a four-day work week, critics say it will create more stress for workers trying to cram as much or more work into fewer hours.

Some say the concept would not be possible for customer-facing work or 24/7 operations, including the NHS or emergency services, where paying overtime would represent an additional cost to employers or taxpayers.

A test of the four-day workweek in France, for example, found that workers worked the same number of hours, even if one day less, and companies had to pay them for the extra time.

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