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The labour deal: towards a better work-life balance. But what does it mean for the employer?

Publications | Employment law team

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The government has recently taken decisions on a bill containing a number of labour measures, also known as the "labour deal." The labour deal should increase the employment rate in Belgium from 71% to 80%.

This bill has currently been submitted to the social partners, so the terms of these measures may still change.

In this contribution we will highlight a few measures that may be relevant to the organisation of your company. They will require additional administration by the employer:

Flexibility at the initiative of the employee for a better work-life balance:

- Employees may request that their full-time weekly working hours of 38 hours can be performed in four working days (instead of the usual five). The maximum daily working time is therefore increased to 9.5 hours. To make this possible the work regulations must be amended first.

In case of a weekly working time between 38 hours and 40 hours, the daily working time will have to be increased to 10 hours by a company collective labour agreement.

The employee’s request is valid for a maximum of six months, but can be renewed. This period must allow the employee to leave the system after each period. A written agreement must be drawn up.

The employer may refuse the employee's request, with adequate justification. The act would provide that such request may not have any negative consequences for the employees.

- On his or her own initiative, an employee may request an alternating weekly regime, more precisely a cycle of two consecutive weeks. The employee can perform fewer working hours in one week and more in the next. However, the average weekly working hours must be respected.

Similar modalities regarding the request and the agreement apply as in the case of the four-day working week. In this case, the employee will have the right to end the alternating weekly working regime early (i.e. during the six-month period) provided that a certain period of time is respected.

The right to disconnect

- Companies employing twenty or more employees will have to conclude a company collective labour agreement in which they will work out the practical arrangements for a "right not to be available outside working hours" with accompanying guidelines and awareness-raising measures.

Part-time variable work schedules:

- If part-time work is performed according to a variable work schedule, the employer will have to communicate the applicable work schedule seven working days in advance (instead of five working days).

The possibility of amending this period by means of a universally binding collective labour agreement is retained, but the minimum publication period is increased from one to three working days.

The previous exceptions by collective labour agreements will remain in force as long as they are not renegotiated.


- Companies that employ 20 workers or more (expressed in full-time equivalent) will have to draw up a training plan for their employees every year. The training plan must be drawn up after consultation with the works council or (in the absence of a works council) the trade union delegation or (in the absence of a trade union delegation) the employees.

- Companies, employing ten or more employees (expressed in full-time equivalent), will have to implement an individual training right, which will gradually be increased from three learning days per year in 2022 to five learning days as from 2024. Learning days can be attended during or outside working hours (with payment of normal the wages).

New features in the event of redundancy

- A “transition trajectory” is created. An employee will be allowed to be placed at the disposal of another employer-user during the performance of his notice period through an employment mediation service or a temporary work agency (interim bureau).

The employer will have to pay the wages the employer-user would normally pay (without exceeding the current wages the employee has with the employer). The employer-user must pay a proportion of the wages to the employer.

If the transition trajectory is completed at the employer-user, an employment contract of indefinite duration with the employer-user is created. For the calculation of seniority, the period of the transition trajectory will be taken into account.

- For employees with a notice period of at least 30 weeks, the notice period will be divided into a first part (2/3 with a minimum of 26 weeks) and a second part (1/3). During the second part of the notice period, the employees will have to remain available for employability-enhancing measures. These will be financed by the employer's contributions on this part of the severance pay. The employees who perform the notice period will be allowed to be absent during this part with retention of salary in order to follow training that is conducive to employment. This arrangement complements the existing outplacement arrangement.

The bill has been sent to the National Labour Council, which has until 6 May 2022 to give its advice.

We will follow the matter closely and keep you informed!