Standard work time for salaried workers is 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.
The employer may determine a reference period (usually one month) during which the work time may be subject to flexibility. In order to do so, the employer must set up:
- either a working hours plan (plan d'organisation du travail - POT);
- or flexible working hours (flexitime).
In any case, the maximum work hours cannot exceed 10 hours per day, nor 48 hours per week.
The employer must also grant minimum rest periods to his employees:
- 11 consecutive hours within each 24 hour time frame;
- 44 consecutive hours within each 7 day period.
The employer may put in place a working hours plan (POT) or flexitime which must apply to:
- all employees;
- or just some employees.
Example: the operational needs of the business may require a working hours plan for the salaried workers in production, whereas flexitime can be granted to the salaried workers in administration.
The current regulation on working hours does not apply to the following persons:
- salaried workers working from home;
- fairground personnel;
- inland waterway carriers;
- travelling salesmen and sales representatives (who do not work on the company premises);
- senior management whose physical presence in the business is necessary for operational and surveillance purposes;
- family businesses.
The following salaried worker's categories are subject to specific regimes:
- domestic staff;
- workers employed by agricultural, viticultural or horticultural family businesses;
- workers in health care establishments, nursing homes, summer camps, orphanages and boarding schools;
- mobile staff in road transport businesses;
- employees, apprentices and trainees in the HORECA sector (hotels, restaurants and cafes).
It is necessary to determine a reference period before setting up a working hours plan (POT) or flexitime.
The employer may introduce a reference period during which the salaried workers can work for more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours per week provided that:
- the average weekly work time over a period of 4 consecutive weeks does not exceed 40 hours;
- and that the maximum work time is not exceeded (i.e. 10 hours a day and 48 hours per week).
The reference period is usually 4 weeks or 1 month. Where the reference period is part of a collective agreement, it may be shorter or longer but cannot exceed 12 months maximum.
If overtime hours have been worked, they must be remunerated or compensated as such.
The working hours plan
A working hours plan (plan d'organisation du travail - POT) must be developed and enforced within the limits of legal provisions and deadlines.
Setting up a working hours plan
An employer may decide to implement a working hours plan and set the weekly working hours for his employees in order to meet operational needs and fluctuations in the level of business activity.
The working hours plan need not be drafted individually in the salaried worker's name, but it must allow the concerned salaried worker and his immediate superior to be immediately informed about the salaried worker's precise work schedule.
Before implementing the working hours plan, the employer must consult with the staff delegation or, in absence thereof, with all the staff concerned. In the event the employer's proposal is refused twice in a row, the employer may refer the case to the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines (ITM) in order to reach an agreement.
The following essential information must be indicated in the working hours plan:
- the beginning and end of the reference period;
- the usual working schedule, i.e. the beginning and end of the working day and the number of working hours to be carried out per day and per week;
- the days where the business is closed, public and customary holidays as well as individual and/or collective leave;
- a weekly uninterrupted period of rest of 44 hours and where applicable, the compensatory rest if the 44 hour rest is not respected.
Implementing the working hours plan
As soon as the working hours plan is set up and approved by the staff delegation, the employer must, before each new reference period:
- inform all the staff concerned about the working hours plan, by the most appropriate means (company notice board, intranet, e-mail, etc.);
- publicly display the working hours plan at the company's main entrances;
send a copy of the working hours plan:
- to the Director of the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines (ITM) ;
- and to the staff delegation.
The working hours plan must be set up at least 5 days before the beginning of a new reference period.
|Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4|
|Monday||4 hours||10 hours||4 hours||10 hours|
|Tuesday||10 hours||10 hours||4 hours||8 hours|
|Wednesday||10 hours||4 hours||10 hours||6 hours|
|Thursday||8 hours||4 hours||10 hours||6 hours|
|Friday||/||10 hours||/||6 hours|
|Saturday||/||10 hours||10 hours||6 hours|
|Total||32 hours||48 hours||38 hours||42 hours|
The total hours worked during the reference period is 160 hours and the average working week is 40 hours. As a consequence, hours worked past the 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week are not to be seen as overtime.
The employer may also apply the working hours plan to his part-time staff, provided that:
- the duration of average working week during the reference period does not exceed the number of weekly hours stipulated in the part-time employment contract;
the salaried worker does not exceed his daily or weekly working time by more than 20 % compared to the duration stipulated in his employment contract. This rate may be increased:
- with the salaried worker's approval;
- if the rate is indicated in the employment contract or in an addendum thereto;
- if the total duration of work does not exceed the duration foreseen for a full-time position.
- a salaried worker's employment contract stipulates a 30 hour working week: the maximum working hours per week during the reference period cannot exceed 36 hours. Each hour in excess of these 36 hours is overtime which can only be carried out subject to the part-time salaried worker's approval.
- a salaried worker's employment contract stipulates a 36 hour working week: the maximum working hours per week during the reference period cannot exceed 40 hours. It is not possible to have the salaried worker work for more than 40 hours per week.
Flexible working hours
Flexible working hours allow the salaried workers to organise their daily working hours and time on an individual basis in accordance with their personal needs as long as they respect:
- operational needs;
- co-workers' justified needs;
- and the maximum work time allowed (i.e. 10 hours a day and 48 hours per week).
Core working hours and flexible working hours
Within the framework of flexible working hours, the employer may set:
- fixed daily working hours where the salaried workers must be present;
- a time slot for flexible working hours that the salaried workers are free to organise themselves.
However, the flexible working hour scheme may provide the employer with the possibility to occasionally request the salaried worker's presence during that period of time (e.g. for the purposes of a meeting, vocational training, etc.);
- the number of overtime hours which can be transferred to the following reference period;
- the deadline allocated to compensate for missing working hours during the following reference period.
Example: the employer decides to set the working hours as follows:
- fixed working hours from 9.00 to 12.00 and from 14.00 to 17.00
- flexible working hours from 7.00 to 9.00, 12.00 to 14.00 and from 17.00 to 19.00.
The salaried workers can organise their arrival to and departure from work according to personal needs as long as they comply with the required average daily and weekly working times stipulated in their work contract and work during the fixed working hours.
At the end of each reference period, the employer must draw up a timesheet statement detailing the working hours for each salaried worker:
if the statement indicates an excess of working hours compared to the legal or conventional duration of working hours:
- the excess hours may be transferred to the following reference period depending on the flexible working hour scheme, or;
- the excess hours may be considered as overtime (if the totality of excess hours are not transferred to the following reference period), in part or in total, if the excess was due to the employer's request because of operational needs;
if the timesheet statement shows a lack of working hours:
- the deficit may be transferred to the following reference period depending on the flexible working hour scheme, or;
- the deficit may be made up by deducting the number of missing hours from the salaried worker's annual leave, but only upon approval from the concerned salaried worker.
Example: the flexible working hour scheme stipulates that it is not possible to save more than 10 excess hours without the employer's consent:
- only the first 10 excess hours are transferred to the following reference period;
- hours worked in excess of 10 excess hours are to be considered as overtime which cannot be transferred to the next reference period. They will be paid out as such provided that they were approved or requested by the employer because of operational needs.