• Leila Mstoian - Marcel Houben

Simplification of part-time work

Workable and flexible work

Downloads In order to ensure that part time employment becomes a more flexible system that remains sufficiently controllable, the statute "Workable and Flexible Work" simplifies the cumbersome administrative requirements.

Preventing abuses has always been an essential concern of the legislator with respect to part time employment.

As a result, part time employment is usually accompanied by cumbersome, administrative obligations for the employer. The statute  "Workable and Flexible Work" intends to remedy this.

Part time employment – the term is self explanatory – is an employment system with performance of less hours of work than the hours of work in a full time regime of 38 hours on average.

1. Need of flexibility but also of reliable control

It is common that such a part time schedule is established in consideration of the personal situation of the employee. Consequently, it is not unusual that various part time schedules apply with an employer, who employs a number of part time employees.

The verification of compliance with the part time employment schedules by the inspection services – read: inspection of black labour – is not simplified as a result thereof. Quite to the contrary!

Such an inspection – so it seems – remains feasible to the extent the part time work is performed along fix time schedules.

An example of a fix schedule: performance of work each week from Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM up to 1:00 PM; an example of another, more varying, but fix schedule: pair weeks of the year: performance of work from Monday through Thursday from 9:00 AM up to 1:00 PM; impair weeks of the year: performance of work from Tuesday through Friday from 1:30 PM up to 5:30 PM.

2. New measures concerning part time work

Up to now each part time work schedule, even if it applied to one single worker, had to be available at the places where the personnel members can consult the work regulations.

That requirement has now been abolished.

The part time work regime and the applicable fix work time schedules must of course be laid down in the individual employment contract.

If the cycle of the fix schedule exceeds one week, appropriate measures must be taken to make sure that the starting point of the cycle can be determined at all times.

A viable inspection by the inspection services becomes even more complex if part time employment is combined with variable work time schedules: in such a system the part time work is performed in accordance with schedules, which may change from month to month, from week to week and even from day to day, provided the average number of hours of work during a given period does not exceed the number of hours of part time work, as agreed upon.

Needless to say, this involves a far-reaching flexibility, which can easily lead to abuses. Nevertheless, the legislator has maintained this possibility, combined with an attempt to reduce the administrative paperwork for the employer as much as possible.

3.  Mandatory inclusion in the work regulations

In the work regulations, the following data concerning this system of variable part time work must be included:

  • the daily period during which work may be performed;
  • the days of the week during which work may be performed;
  • the minimum and the maximum number hours of work per day and the minimum and maximum number hours of work per week;
  • the way how the applicable work schedule are communicated to the employees and the deadline for that communication; that written communication determines the individual work schedules and must be dated by the employer; in principle, the work schedule must be communicated five working days beforehand, but the deadline may be reduced by collective labour agreement rendered compulsory by royal decree; the information concerning the applicable work time schedules must be available at the places where the personnel can consult the work regulations; the information must be kept during one year.

4. What to include in the individual employment contract?

The individual employment contract must only include the part time employment regime. 

As to the possibly applicable work time schedules and the way of communicating the applicable schedules, only reference must be made to the regulations included in the work regulations.

Derogation from the applicable work schedules – if any – must be carefully noted and kept be it electronically or in paper form.

The average number of hours of work performed must coincide with the number of hours agreed upon. A quarter is in principle the reference period for the calculation of the average. This reference period may be extended up to one year either by collective labour agreement or by the work regulations.