BELGIUM: Civil servants have “right to disconnect”

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From 1 February next, federal civil servants, whether statutory, trainee, proxy or contractual, will have a “right to disconnect”.

This new legislative provision is the result of “the conviction that the increasing use of digital tools outside working hours” can be a major source of stress. The possibility to physically and mentally leave work behind during breaks and outside working hours is linked to positive results in terms of well-being: better concentration, better recovery and higher and more sustained energy levels.

In concrete terms, under the Royal Decree of 2 December 2021, which amends the Royal Decree of 2 October 1937 :

  • Civil servants may only be contacted outside normal working hours for exceptional and unforeseen reasons requiring action that cannot wait until the next working period or if they are on call;
  • They may not suffer any prejudice if they do not answer the telephone or read work-related messages outside their normal working hours;
  • To ensure that rest, annual leave and public holidays are respected and that work-life balance is maintained, the managing official shall organise a consultation on disconnection from work and the use of digital media at least once a year in the relevant consultation committee.

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