Maximum working hours, overtime, weekly rest and leave
Article 26 of the Law of 16 March 1971 relating to work contains exceptions to the maximum weekly and daily working hours. The law provides that exceptions to the weekly and daily limits are only possible in certain situations specified by the law, but the conditions, limitations, and procedures stipulated must be respected (the employee may be due overtime compensatory rest (time off in lieu) and overtime pay depending on the circumstances).Relevantly, art. 26 provides that the limits set out in articles 19 and 20 can be exceeded:
- if the work is organized in shifts;
- if the excess hours are for the performance of works that could not be interrupted because of the nature of these works;
- if the excess hours are for the performance of work relating to inventory and balance sheet, under the condition that these limits are not exceeded for a period of more than 7 days per employee and per calendar year.
Law / 16 March 1971 / Belgium / Law of 16 March 1971 Relating to Work
Under Belgian law, it is strictly forbidden to put children to work or to let them work or to make them perform an activity outside of the ordinary course of the education and learning process. For the purposes of this law, “children” are defined as minors who are less than 15 years of age or who are still subject to full-time compulsory education.The law permits some individual exceptions to the above-mentioned general prohibition of putting children to work. However, the conditions for these exceptions are strictly regulated, and the application of these exceptions must be authorized by a competent officer in writing.
If a child does perform any activity under an exception, a child of 6 years of age and under may only do so between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., a child between 7 and 11 years of age may only do so between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., and a child between 12 and 15 years of age may only do so between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.
The law of 16 March 1971 relating to work also regulates maximum working hours, setting out weekly and daily limits. Exceptions to those weekly and daily limits are only possible in certain situations specified by the law; and the conditions, limitations, and procedures stipulated must be respected. If the employer fails to comply with these strict rules/conditions, the employer can be held criminally liable under the Criminal Social Code.