Belgium: Changes in atypical working time

A new report reveals that atypical working time is less common in Belgium than in the rest of the EU15.

A report by The Policy Research Centre for Work and Social Economy (Steunpunt WSE) shows how atypical working time has changed between 2000 and 2013 (in Dutch, 1.98 MB PDF). In comparison with the EU15, atypical working time is less prevalent in Belgium than in the EU15 across all categories:

  • Saturdays (16.7% of employees in Belgium work on a Saturday, compared with 25.1% in EU15);
  • evening work (8.7% versus 16.3%);
  • shift work (6.9% versus 15.7%);
  • night work (3.0% versus 6.8%)
  • Sunday work (9.5% versus 14.0%).

However, while the trend for evening work, shift work and work at night has been decreasing since 2000, the trend for Saturday work and Sunday work has been increasing over the same period. This is because of the shift in employment from industry to services.

Part-time work increased from 17.7% in 2000 to 24.3% in 2013. In 2013, 42.5% of female workers were working part time (34.9% in 2000), compared with 8.7% of male workers (4.3% in 2000). This can be explained by the demand for part-time jobs in the growing services sector and in the way part-time work makes it easier to combine a job with a person's personal life.

The report adds that the amount of variable and flexible working time schedules in the Flemish region have remained quite stable since 2003: 6% of working people have variable time schedules and 9.5% have flexible time schedules. The number of people working at home increased from 6.5% in 1993 to 12.2% in 2003 and to 14.4% in 2013. The number of employees working less than 50% of normal working time is also on the increase. The evolution of technology and ICT has made it easier to work at home, which can be advantageous for both employers and employees. Employees can restrict their commuting time and have a better work-life balance. This, in turn, reduces their stress and increases their job satisfaction, which has a positive effect on their productivity. The employers, too, can make savings on transport costs and working space.


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