As of Tuesday thousands of federal civil servants in Belgium are no longer required to answer calls or emails from their bosses outside of their contracted working hours.
A new law has granted some 65,000 government workers “the right to disconnect” and, in the process, adding Belgium to the growing list of European countries taking steps toward greater work-life balance.
Petra De Sutter, the Belgian minister for public administration, said in a letter that the right to disconnect will be codified into law as a means to combat “excessive work stress and burn-out” among federal civil servants, according to The Brussels Times.
According to sources in De Morgen, which obtained the letter, De Sutter emphasised the so-called “right to disconnect”, the right to be inaccessible of federal government officials in her circular.
Outside of usual working hours, a federal civil servant may only be approached “in the event of extreme and unforeseen situations necessitating action that cannot wait until the following working period.”
According to the law, a government employee “shall not be disadvantaged by not answering the phone or reading work-related messages outside of normal working hours.”
De Sutter noted in the circular that the ability to disconnect will now be codified in law as a way to address “excessive job stress and burn-out” among federal civil servants.
De Sutter has written a Twitter post in English to acknowledge attention to the new law. “Modern times require modern workplaces, and I am proud to say our government is taking the lead in providing them,” she posted.
France has had a similar law in place since 2016.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: REDDIT