Statutory number of working hours per week in the private sector

Last updated: 01/03/2023


The statutory number of working hours is set at 39 hours of actual work per week, i.e. the time during which the employee is carrying out his or her duties (which, in principle, excludes time taken for dressing, snacks, etc.)

In certain occupations, because of the nature of some of the activities, systems of equivalence have been introduced. An attendance period of more than 39 hours is therefore considered equivalent to 39 hours of actual work.

If you need assistance or encounter any difficulties, you can make an appointment at the Labour Inspectorate in one of the following three ways:

When you attend your appointment, please bring the documents required to complete your procedure.

Daily working hours

The actual daily working hours must not exceed ten, except with the authorisation of the Labour Inspector.

The rest period between two consecutive days of work must not be less than ten hours.



At the request of the employer, an employee can work more hours than the legal limit. These working hours are counted as overtime.

Subject to a minimum increase in wages, an employer can extend the working hours to 47 hours per week.

This overtime, which is calculated by calendar week, entitles the employee to the following wage increases:

  • 25 % for the first eight hours
  • 50 % for any subsequent hours


Unless a special exemption has been granted, the hours of overtime worked must not exceed the maximum amount of hours stipulated by law:

  • 10 hours per day
  • an average of 46 hours over any period of 12 consecutive weeks
  • 48 hours per week, subject to conforming with the average duration set out above
  • 60 hours per week in some companies in exceptional circumstances and for short periods with the agreement of the Labour Inspector

Employees who have several jobs must conform with these limits, considering all the jobs as a whole.

Times of Work

In principle, the times of work apply collectively. They are set by the employer, who must:

  • Display the working times in all premises relating to the work
  • Send a copy of this timetable to the Labour Inspector
  • Repeat this procedure if the timetable is changed


Working hours for women

Women's daily work may be interrupted by one or several rest breaks, the total duration of which must not be less than one hour. During these rest periods, the employer cannot ask employees to undertake any work.

Women cannot be employed for night work in factories or workshops unless they are part of the management or occupy a position of responsibility.

As a general rule, any work undertaken between 10 pm and 5 am is considered night work.

Night-time rest periods must consist of at least 11 consecutive hours.

Exemptions can be granted by the Labour Inspector at the request of an employee with regard to:

  • An interruption to daily work
  • Night work


See also

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