Belgian government mulls four-day week

7th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

7 June 2004, BRUSSELS – Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt is considering introducing a four-day working week in the country, it was reported on Monday.

7 June 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt is considering introducing a four-day working week in the country, it was reported on Monday.

In an interview with Flemish newspaper Het Niewsblad, Verhofstadt said he thought the move could help Belgian firms become more competitive.

At present Belgium has a 38-hour working week and anyone working longer than that should be paid overtime.

Under the current system, the working week is divided up over five days and, strictly speaking, people must be paid overtime if they work more that 7.6 hours a day (in reality a normal working day tends to run to 8 hours).

Verhofstadt's plan is to keep the 38-hour week but to divide it up over four days so that employers can ask their staff to put in a nine-and-a-half hour day before they have to start paying overtime.

He argued the move would make Belgian firms more competitive and could in the long run reduce unemployment.

Belgian employers' federation, the Federations des Entreprises de Belgique (FEB), has reacted favourably to the Prime Minister's suggestions.

But the country's trade unions seem less keen on the plan and are asking for talks with both the government and employers to discuss the proposals.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news

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