By Ron Howells •
Published: 11 Oct 2021 • 22:46
Belgium studies four-day working week with longer hours. image: Wikipedia
Belgium is studying a four-day working week but with longer hours.
Belgium could move to a four-day working week, as the government discusses broader reforms of the labour market.
“The corona crisis has radically changed the way we work. The idea is to give a worker more flexibility to organize their working week,” a spokesperson for the Belgian economy and labour ministry said.
Greater flexibility in working hours could cut the number of working days per week, from five to four. In the Belgian proposal, the number of working hours would remain the same. To get the extra day off, employees would have to work about 9.5 hours per day, assuming a full-time workload of 38 to 40 hours per week.
A recent trial conducted in Iceland earlier this year led to almost nine in ten Icelandic workers renegotiating contracts, permanently shortening their hours.
Meanwhile, a number of companies in Spain are currently trialling a four-day week after a small political party’s proposal was accepted by the wider government in March this year.
Leftwing parties in Spain – where a 44-day strike in Barcelona in 1919 resulted in the country becoming one of the first in western Europe to adopt the eight-hour workday – have seized on the idea. “Spain is one of the countries where workers put in more hours than the European average. But we’re not among the most productive countries,” Iñigo Errejón of Más País. “I maintain that working more hours does not mean working better.”
“With the four-day work week (32 hours), we’re launching into the real debate of our times,” said Iñigo Errejón of Más País on Twitter. “It’s an idea whose time has come.”
But there are concerns over the Belgium government’s plans to introduce longer working hours as a trade-off for giving employees the extra day away.
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Ron actually started his working career as an Ophthalmic Technician- things changed when, during a band rehearsal, his amplifier blew up and he couldn’t get it fixed so he took a course at Birmingham University and ended up doing a degree course. He built up a chain of electronics stores and sold them as a franchise over 35 years ago. After five years touring the world Ron decided to move to Spain with his wife and son, a place they had visited over the years, and only bought the villa they live in because it has a guitar-shaped swimming pool!.
Playing the guitar since the age of 7, he can often be seen, (and heard!) at beach bars and clubs along the length of the coast. He has always been interested in the news and constantly thrives to present his articles in an interesting and engaging way.
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