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Fewer hours at same pay for older workers with demanding jobs

17:07 02/11/2021

Starting in January, Brussels-City will offer its workers who are over 60 and carrying out physically or psychologically demanding work the option of cutting their hours. Anyone wanting to take advantage of the new work contracts will still be treated as full-time workers, meaning they will receive the same pay and pension benefits.

The new contracts will be open to public sector employees who are at least 60 years old and have worked for Brussels-City for at least five years. They must be performing one of 15 designated jobs in professions that are considered demanding. These include child-minding, landscaping, road repair, masonry, cleaning (including street cleaners), teaching assistance and roofing.

“These trades were not determined at random,” said Faouzia Hariche (PS) city councillor in charge of personnel. “We analysed criteria such as regular lifting, repetitiveness of tasks, irregular schedules and being subject to noise. In addition, the emotional and psychological toll the work takes was also considered.”

Aging population

Workers have to request the new working hours, which will be according to specific formulas: A four-day work week, a full week with three full-time days and two half days, or a full week of six-hour days. The municipality will begin accepting requests on 1 January and will handle them all within three months.

In an interview with RTBF, Hariche couldn’t pinpoint how many staff might be eligible for the new work contracts, but she did say that it was an aging population that was fulfilling these jobs. Brussels-City is modernising equipment and reforming the functions somewhat to attract new people.

“The goal is to vary the duties each team will perform,” said Hariche. “It feels better to perform a variety of tasks rather than repetitive tasks.”

Other municipalities in the capital, including Anderlecht and Saint-Josse, are also considering such measures for their older workers.

Photo ©Carole Heymans/BELGA


Written by Lisa Bradshaw