Belgium has introduced new laws relating to the issue of “disconnecting” from work emails after working hours to preserve work-life balance. Unlike the similar legislation in France, it does not provide a right to disconnect, but instead obligates employers to consult on the issue with a view to setting company guidelines.

Under the law, employers should consult on the issue with the health and safety committee or, in the absence of any such committee, an applicable trade union or directly with employees. This should be done on a regular basis as well as whenever requested by employees’ representatives. Discussions should cover the use of digital communication devices (such as smartphones) and their impact on well-being at home and at work.

These consultations should enable the committee to provide guidance and formulate proposals. Where accepted by the employer, the arrangements may (not: must) be made binding through an amendment of the work regulations or by signing a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).


The law requires companies to consult “regularly”—an obligation that is likely to be satisfied by engaging in a consultation once or twice per year. Employers should keep in mind that the law would require them to consult when there is a change in policy that has an impact on work-life balance, such as a new telecommuting policy or a companywide rollout of new methods of communication, such as smartphones or tablets.

Written by Alexander Vandenbergen of Lydian and Roger James of Ogletree Deakins