World

Belgian civil servants’ bosses can not call them after work-hours under new law

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

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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