Employee working time: scheduling

Verified 23 November 2020 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

If the company alternates periods of high and low activity, it may provide for working hours to be adjusted over a period of more than one week and fixed at a maximum of three years.

During this period, the employee may be required to work either more than 35 hours per week or less, depending on the activity of the company.

The conditions for setting up the timetable vary depending on whether it is provided for by a collective agreement or directly by the employer.

Collective Agreement

Depending on whether the working time agreement was concluded on or before 21 August 2008, the conditions are different.

Hours of work

The length of the employee's working time is fixed by company, establishment, agreement or branch agreement, which establishes the organization of working time.

This arrangement of working time provides for working hours and hours which vary according to the week.

Example :

in the case of high activity, during a period known in advance, the employee may have to work more than 35 hours in certain weeks, and then less than 35 hours in the following weeks.

Change in working hours or hours

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Full-time employee

Where the hours of work or the hours of work of the employee are changed, the agreement which lays down the organization of working time shall lay down the conditions and time-limit for notifying the employee of such changes. The employee is notified within a reasonable time (the length of which is not fixed by law, it depends on the circumstances applicable to the company).

The organization of working time cannot be regarded as a modification of the contract of employment. Thus, the modification of working hours cannot be refused by the employee.

Part-time employee

If the part-time employee is concerned by the organization of working time, the agreement provides for the method of communication and modification of the distribution of working time and hours.


The hours worked by the employee are considered as overtime conditions which vary depending on whether the agreement is planned for a period of one year or for a different period.

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Reference period set at 1 year

Overtime shall be counted towards the end of the reference period laid down in the working agreement.

Any hour worked by the employee beyond 1,607 hours work shall be considered as one additional hour.

Example :

if an employee has worked 1,630 hours throughout the year, 23 hours of work are counted as overtime.


the agreement may provide for a limit of less than 1 607 hours for the counting of overtime.

Reference period less than or greater than 1 year

Overtime shall be counted towards the end of the reference period laid down in the Agreement.

Any hour worked by the employee beyond an average of 35 hours per week is considered to be overtime.

This average duration shall be determined by subtracting the hours worked during the reference period laid down in the Agreement.

However, a specific breakdown of overtime shall be made if the reference period of the agreement is longer than 1 year.

This statement shall be made:

  • partly during the reference period
  • and partly at the end of the reference period

In this case, the agreement must provide for a limit, greater than 35 hours per week, beyond which working hours in the same week constitute overtime.

Overtime is then paid with the salary of the month in question.


The employee is paid under normal conditions.

His monthly remuneration may be calculated independently of the actual working time, under the conditions laid down in the working time agreement.

Any collective agreement on the allocation of working hours concluded before 21 August 2008 shall remain applicable as long as it is not called into question by the organizations which have signed it. The signed agreement provides for

  • Let's say work per cycle
  • Let us consider the modulation of working time
  • Reduced working hours (RTT)

Work per cycle

The agreement may provide for the organization of working time in the form of cycles, the duration of which is fixed at a few weeks, in order to adapt to regular variations in activities.

The distribution of working time within a cycle is repeated identically from one cycle to another.

Within a cycle, the average weekly working time is 35 hours.

Hours worked beyond this date shall be considered as overtime.

Modulation of working time

The modulation of working time allows the working time to be distributed over all or part of the year, according to the activity.

Working hours are increased during high activity and reduced during low activity.

The working time must not exceed 1,607 hours per year (or less, if provided for in the Convention or Agreement).

Reduction of working time (RTT)

Weekly working hours may be reduced by the allocation of days or half-days of rest.

RTT days are divided into:

  • Over the whole or part of the year, under conditions defined by the Convention or the Agreement (reference should be made to all the provisions laid down)
  • Or over 4-week periods, according to a pre-established schedule.

By the employer

In the absence of a collective agreement in the company, the employer retains the possibility of providing for the organization of the working time of employees. However, the conditions are different from those provided for in the case of an agreement.

In the absence of a collective agreement or a branch agreement, the employer retains the possibility of adjusting the employee's working time.

The duration of the work is then fixed by the employer, who establishes a program indicative of the variation in the duration of the work.

This program shall be subject to the opinion of the Social and Economic Committee (ESC).

The division of working time may be implemented over a period, called reference period, for a maximum of 4 weeks (or 9 weeks if the company employs less than 50 employees).

If the company is operating continuously, the allocation can be implemented over several weeks, with no maximum ceiling.

If the employer wishes to change working hours or hours, he must notify the employee concerned at least 7 working days before the date on which that change occurs.

The hours worked by the employee vary according to the periods of activity and are considered to be overtime:

  • Any hour worked beyond 39 hours per week,
  • Or any hour worked beyond the average duration of 35 hours per week (calculated over the reference period)

In the event of the employee's arrival or departure during the working time adjustment period, hours worked in excess of 35 hours per week shall be regarded as overtime.

The monthly remuneration is calculated independently of the actual hours worked, on the basis of 35 hours per week.

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