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It is prohibited to employ workers on Sundays.
"Sunday" means the astronomical day from 0 to 24 hours (Saturday midnight to Sunday midnight).
No compensation is paid for Sunday rest.
There are derogations from the prohibition on working on Sundays.
These derogations make it possible to employ workers on Sundays in particular sectors or for the performance of particular activities.
Derogations applicable to all undertakings as regards the performance of specific works
Provided that the normal operation of the business does not allow them to be performed on another day of the week, the following activities may be performed on a Sunday, the whole day :
- monitoring the premises assigned to the undertaking;
- cleaning, repair and conservation works necessary for the regular continued operation as well as the works other than production works necessary for the resumption of work the following day;
- works performed to deal with an accident which has occurred or with an imminent accident;
- urgent works to be performed on the machinery or equipment as well as the works required due to unforeseen circumstances;
- the works required to prevent the deterioration of raw materials or products.
These derogations apply to the workers employed by the undertaking concerned and also to other workers employed by third-party undertakings called on to meet the abovementioned needs (for instance repair undertakings…).
Derogations applicable, where provided by a Royal Decree, to certain undertakings or with a view to performing specific works
If determined by a specific Royal Decree,workers may be employed on Sunday in undertakings or with a view to performing specific works.
Such a Royal Decree may impose additional conditions.
A list of the existing Royal Decrees can be consulted by using the following links :
- in French language : art. 13 de la loi du 16 mars 1971 sur le travail (PDF, 245.78 KB);
- in Dutch language : art. 13 van de Arbeidswet van 16 maart 1971 (PDF, 317.49 KB).
Nonetheless, as long as no specific Royal Decree relating to the same type of activity has been adopted in that regard, workers may also be employed on Sunday in the following undertakings or for the following works:
- hotels, motels, campgrounds, restaurants, catering companies, caterers, tearooms and bars;
- entertainment and public games enterprises;
- newspaper enterprises;
- information agencies and travel agencies;
- ship repair and maintenance undertakings;
- undertakings retailing fuels and oils for motor vehicles, but only regarding workers in charge of sales;
- undertakings operating motor vehicle parking locations;
- undertakings producing, transforming or transporting gas, electricity, steam or nuclear energy and water distribution undertakings;
- establishments and services providing health care, preventive care or hygiene care;
- urgent or essential farm works ;
- industries within which the work, because of its nature, cannot be interrupted nor delayed ;
- land and air transport companies, as well as fisheries ;
- pharmacies, drugstores and medical and surgical appliance stores;
- photographic companies, only with regard to filming operators photographing people on a public thoroughfare;
- film industry companies providing news reports with regard to the workers in charge of works specifically concerning the visual press;
- companies producing films for film and television, with regard to blue collar workers in charge of lighting works, machinery, building and dismantling of décor;
- radio and television broadcasting distribution companies;
- food undertakings whose products are intended to be delivered immediately to consumers;
- undertakings whose object is the retail ofedible products or foodstuffs;
- tobacconists shops and natural flower shops;
- public baths;
- undertakings renting means of locomotion;
- employment agencies;
- undertakings dealing with foreign exchange operations in railway stations, airports and ferry terminals;
- motor vehicle breakdown service and automatic distribution machines repair work;
- participation in events of all kinds, namely expositions, exhibitions, museums, trade, industrial and agricultural fairs, markets, sell-off, parades and sports events;
- loading, unloading and moving works in ports, landing stages and port stations;
- game warden works and fish warden works.
Derogation in case of work organised in successive shifts
Workers who work in successive shifts may be employed on Sundays provided that their work is interrupted once a week for 24 consecutive hours, at least 18 of which coincide with Sundays.
Therefore, It is impossible for a worker of the last shift who finished work at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning to resume work that same evening at 6 p.m. He/she can only return to work at the earliest on Monday morning at 6 a.m.
Compensatory rest for work on Sunday
Workers who work on a Sunday are entitled to compensatory rest over the six days following that Sunday.
This is unpaid compensatory rest because the ordinary day of rest is not paid for either.
The compensatory rest should not be deducted from the number of hours worked.
The compensatory rest need not necessarily coincide with a normal working day of the worker: the rest period may coincide with the day on which no work is normally carried out in the undertaking (usually Saturday).
However, the compensatory rest may not coincide with a public holiday or with a day of compensatory rest granted as part of the rules governing public holidays, or with a day of compensatory rest granted for exceeding the normal working time limits.
The length of the period of compensatory rest is granted in accordance with a fixed scale, as follows:
- a full day if the work on Sunday lasted for more than four hours;
- half a day if the work on Sunday did not last more than four hours; in this case, the compensatory rest should be granted before or after 1 pm and on that day the worker may not work for more than five hours.
Remuneration for work on Sunday
If work is performedon Sunday, the worker is entitled to his normal remuneration.
In particular sectors, provision may be made in sectorial collective agreements that work on Sunday also gives entitlement to a wage/salary supplement (bonus).