Deputy PM Frank Vandenbroucke Dismisses 32-Hour Workweek

Sarhan Basem
credit: nieuwsblad

Brussels (Brussels Morning) – Deputy PM Vandenbroucke dismisses 32-hour workweek proposal, emphasizing HR management improvements. Calls for taxing the rich but stresses it’s not a panacea. Vooruit’s manifesto focuses on buying power and social welfare.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health and Social Affairs, Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit), stated he “does not believe in the 32-hour working week at all” in an interview.

The 68-year-old Flemish Socialist is on the movement trail for the last time. In a long-ranging interview, he examined his past work as Federal Health Minister and what he wishes to achieve in the next mandate.

Is Vandenbroucke Skeptical of the 32-Hour Workweek Proposal?

“I don’t believe in it at all, and I don’t think it’s what society is actually hoping for,” Vandenbroucke expressed about the 32-hour working week, a subject that has been doing the rounds ahead of the Belgian elections on 9 June. A study issued in April showed that 43% of parents were in acceptance of a reduced working week with the same salary to reduce the burden of childcare.

How Does Vandenbroucke Propose to Manage HR Challenges?

“However, there is much to be accomplished in terms of human resources management, quality of work and worker relations,” he continued. “Companies in which an excessive number of employees are unable to work for long periods should be sanctioned financially.”

The proportion of workers taking sick leave rose to record-breaking levels in 2023. Concerning long-term illness, Vandenbroucke presented measures last year to assist individuals return to work as quickly as possible.

Both the Socialist Party (PS) and the Belgian Workers’ Party (PTB-PVDA) have positioned a heavy focus on a wealth tax in the run-up to the June ballot.

Is Taxing the Rich a Viable Solution, According to Vandenbroucke?

Vandenbroucke states taxing the rich is by no means a “miracle solution”, but adds that “it is inappropriate that low-income earners should pay the full rate on estates and that large estates should be able to flee via donations.” In this instance, Vooruit supports an exemption of up to €250,000 and advanced taxation for figures higher than that.

Vooruit is a centre-left political party whose election manifesto prioritises buying power, affordable healthcare for all and more profitable investment in education, healthcare and child support.

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.