European Foundation
for the Improvement of
Living and Working Conditions

The tripartite EU agency providing knowledge to assist
in the development of better social, employment and
work-related policies

COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case BE-2020-27/1205 – measures in Belgium

Collective working time reduction for companies in difficulties

Collectieve arbeidsduurvermindering

Country Belgium , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 July 2020
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Employment protection and retention
– Working time and working time flexibility
Author Dries Van Herreweghe (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) and Eurofound
Case created 01 October 2020 (updated 06 October 2020)

Background information

The measure is intended for businesses that are officially recognised as being in difficulty or restructuring. This official recognition has some specific support measures in place to try and keep businesses afloat, this new measure being one of them. It allows employers to reduce a part of their labour costs by reducing the amount of working hours performed within the company.

Content of measure

A company can reduce working hours collectively and therefore respond to reduced production and/or turnover due to the COVID-19 crisis. The workers concerned receive a converted salary supplemented by a lump-sum wage compensation, which covers all or part of the wage loss and is financed by a temporary reduction in the employer's social security contribution.

The measure is reserved for companies that are formally recognised as being in difficulty or undergoing restructuring with an approval period starting between 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2020. This measure allows companies in difficulty or restructuring to reduce their wage costs as long as they suffer from reduced activity. The measure is very similar to one that was implemented during the 2009-2011 crisis.

Use of measure

No data available on uptake of the measure.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Other businesses
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Unknown Unknown
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: N/A


It is unclear to what extent the social partners were involved in the design of the matter, as there is no public documentation about it available. The measure was regulated via royal decree and not via a collective agreement signed by the social partners.

Views and reactions

No public statements available from either of the social partners about the measure.



Eurofound (2020), Collective working time reduction for companies in difficulties, case BE-2020-27/1205 (measures in Belgium), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.