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Working time of a full-time employee

Verified 09 January 2023 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

How many hours of work can you do per day, per week, per month and per year? Is it possible to work longer than the statutory period? We explain your rights and obligations regarding the length of working time.

The legal duration of working time depends on your situation.

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General case

The statutory working time for a full period shall be:

  • 35 hours by week
  • 151.67 hours per month
  • 1,607 hours per year

However, treaty provisions may provide for a weekly working time of more than or less than 35 hours.

Hours beyond the legal time shall be considered as overtime.

You are a senior executive

As a senior executive, you do not have to work a minimum or maximum working time.

To be considered a senior executive, you must have the following 3 criteria:

  • You will be entrusted with responsibilities whose importance implies great independence in the organisation of your schedule
  • Be empowered to make decisions on a largely autonomous basis
  • Pay at the highest levels of company pay systems

You are an employee or apprentice under 18 years of age

Your working time is subject to specific provisions.

The duration of your actual work shall not exceed the maximum duration of 10 hours.

However, exemptions are granted in the following cases:

  • At the request of your employer, who must also ask for the agreement of the labour inspector
  • In the event of an emergency caused by a temporary increase in activity
  • If collective agreement provides for it. In the event of increased activity or for reasons relating to the organisation of the company, the maximum daily working time shall be limited to 12 hours per working day.

The duration actual work weekly shall not exceed the following 2 limits:

  • 48 hours on the same week
  • 44 hours per week on average over a 12 consecutive weeks.

Example :

If you work 48 hours a week for 6 weeks in a row and then 40 hours for the next 6 weeks, you will have worked an average of 44 hours a week for the 12 consecutive weeks. Therefore, your working time does not exceed the maximum weekly working hours allowed.

By way of derogation, the maximum duration over a week may be increased, in exceptional circumstances, to a maximum of 60 hours.

To do this, the Labour Inspectorate must give its consent.

Exceeding the 44-hour average is possible, up to 46 hours over a 12 consecutive week period, in one of the following cases:

  • One collective agreement or collective company agreement provides
  • After authorisation of the labour inspection

At least a break time 20 minutes consecutive hours is granted to you, once you have worked 6 consecutive hours.

The break shall be granted either immediately after 6 hours of work or before the 6 hours have been fully completed.

FYI  

lunch time, which is between 2 periods of actual work, is considered as a break time.

Your employer can set up collective working hours for all employees of the company.

An individualised schedule may also be offered, subject to conditions.

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You work group hours

In case of collective hours, your employer displays the hours at which work begins and ends, the hours and the length of rest.

If your employer changes the hours of work, it displays the changes in hours or hours of work at least 7 days before they are implemented.

You work in individual hours

One individualised scheduling allows you to choose your working hours.

However, a fixed range may be provided by your employer during which you must be present in the company.

Example :

A variable schedule can define an arrival time range between 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. and a departure time range between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

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