Over 65,000 Belgian federal workers now have the legal right to make themselves unavailable outside regular working hours. This means that they no longer need to answer emails, phone calls, or messages outside working hours. The country just became the latest in Europe to offer employees the right to disconnect.
Portugal was one of the first countries in Europe to provide employees with the right to disconnect. The main reason was that although flexible work has great benefits, one of the main issues for employees was overworking. And recently, Belgium approved this new law that will come into effect this week.
Belgium’s New Law for Remote Workers
According to Petra de Sutter, the Belgian Minister for Public Administration, the law took place because it was necessary to fight against the urge of employees to be available all the time. And the problem was that remote workers worked past hours leading to a change in working habits.
Without this right, employees will continually feel stress and burnout most of the time. The government plans to extend this right to the private sector. However, many business groups are in opposition.
Additionally, the federal government is evaluating moving to a four-day week of 38 to 40 hours for full-time staff, meaning longer working days but a three-day weekend.