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Working time and forms of employment in Belgium


  • J. De Mulder

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • M. Druant

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)


The article discusses developments over the past two decades in regard to working time and alternative forms of employment, placing the trends seen in Belgium in an international perspective. It also examines whether the Belgian regulations on this subject are stricter than those in the other EU-15 countries. For the Belgian working population, the usual working time averaged 37 hours per week in 2004, whereas in 1983 it was a little over 40 hours. There are wide variations within the EU-15. Belgian working time is somewhat shorter than the average for the EU-15, and that also applies to employees. The average working time ascertained for the various countries is influenced by the employment structure. After adjustments for that factor, the differences are definitely smaller, and working time in Belgium is roughly the same as the EU-15 average. The decline in average working time and the increased dispersion which have emerged over the years are inevitably connected with the growing use of part-time working and other alternative forms of employment such as temporary work, employment during non-standard hours, overtime working, variable working hours and home working. In many cases this satisfies a genuine preference on the part of the persons concerned, e.g. those seeking a better balance between work and family life. However, since these forms of employment are more common among risk groups such as women, older workers, the young and the low-skilled, there is a danger of further segmentation of the labour market. On the demand side of the labour market, the alternative forms of employment give employers a range of instruments which are conducive to a flexible production process.

Suggested Citation

  • J. De Mulder & M. Druant, 2006. "Working time and forms of employment in Belgium," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue i, pages 49-64, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbb:ecrart:y:2006:m:june:i:i:p:46-64

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sala-i-Martin, Xavier X., 1996. "Regional cohesion: Evidence and theories of regional growth and convergence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1325-1352, June.
    2. Sjef Ederveen & Henri L . F. Groot & Richard Nahuis, 2006. "Fertile Soil for Structural Funds?A Panel Data Analysis of the Conditional Effectiveness of European Cohesion Policy," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(1), pages 17-42, February.
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    More about this item


    working time; part-time employment; temporary work; overtime; flexibility;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply


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