Flexible working hours – The organization of work based on flexible working hours not only makes it possible to exceed normal working time limits, but also to modify schedules within the framework of alternative peak and off-peak hours listed in the labor regulations. However, the exceeding of working hours is limited, since the daily working time may not exceed 9 hours and the weekly working time must not exceed 45 hours. The maximum average working time is 38 hours per week and 8 hours per day; However, the maximum weekly working time may be lower in some industries on the basis of a collective agreement. There are several legal exceptions to this rule. In the case of shift work, for example, it is possible to work up to 11 hours a day and in the case of continuous work even up to 12 hours. Under certain conditions, flexible working hours with a working week of more than 38 hours may be introduced, provided that the quarterly or annual average remains at 38 hours per week. The minimum daily working time is three hours, but there are legal exceptions. Work at night, on Sundays and public holidays is only permitted under strict legal conditions. The internal working time limit is the maximum number of hours exceeding the normal weekly working time that still need to be made up during the applicable reference period.
With the introduction of flexible working hours, working from home and the like, working practices are slowly changing. Under EU law, part-time and temporary workers are protected by law: new national legislation now also provides protection for homeworkers. Belgium is a pioneer in the application of legislation guaranteeing equal treatment in recruitment, employment and training for all persons irrespective of race or origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability or age. Belgian organisations are aware of the economic case for work-life balance, and some of them are now introducing flexible working hours and related measures to reduce pressure, especially as many large companies are based in big cities. Belgians, with their attachment to their local communities, often commute between the countryside and work. As a result, during the morning and evening rush hours around Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Liège, etc., there is enormous congestion of commuter traffic, a challenge that employers want to overcome by spreading out working hours. Many of them, especially those who perform purely administrative functions, are in fact diligent timekeepers. It`s a matter of nine to five, or whatever the formula is, and that`s it! Nevertheless, they are usually hard-working and intelligent nine- to five-year-olds. The compensatory rest period should not be deducted from working time. For example, rest does not necessarily have to coincide with the employee`s normal working day: this rest period may coincide with the day on which the company does not work normally (usually Saturday). Belgian law sets working hours at 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. Both limit values must be complied with at the same time.
These ceilings may be reduced by collective agreement. However, exceptions to the ban on Sunday work allow workers to be employed on Sundays in certain sectors for certain activities. As a result, working time may be longer than the periods during which the work is actually carried out (e.g. on-call time during on-call time). Each employer is required to set up an „Internal Service for Prevention and Protection at Work“ (the „Internal Service“). This body supports the employer, members of the hierarchy and employees in the implementation of legal and regulatory provisions relating to the well-being of employees as well as in all preventive measures and activities. To this end, each employer has at least one „safety prevention adviser“, an employee of the company and affiliated to an internal service. In companies with less than twenty employees, the employer can act as a safety prevention consultant. The average working week is 38 hours, although longer working hours are common, especially in international institutions.