Spotlight on European institutions as Belgium introduces law to combat ‘burnout’

Out-Law News | 17 Sep 2014 | 11:42 am | 1 min. read

A new law that came into force this month requires all enterprises operating in Belgium, including Brussels-based institutions such as the European Commission (EC), to take preventive action against ‘burnout’ related to stress in the workplace. 

As of 1 September, Belgian law stipulates that employers must take measures such as conducting risk analyses and providing counselling to employees to prevent “psycho-social risks” related to stress at work.

According to EurActiv.com, trade union representatives who represent staff at the EC are calling on the EC’s executive to “draw up as soon as possible its own internal rules to give effective protection to its staff as the same level at least as the Belgian law”.

EC spokesman Antony Gravili told EurActiv.com: “The EC is aware of the risks of the modern working world, including psychological risks, their influence on employees and the employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for its workforce.”

The prevalence of work-related stress in Europe is very high, according to a poll of 16,662 workers, from 31 countries, published in April 2014 by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (66-page / 512 KB PDF). The survey indicated that 51% of workers said work-related stress was common in their workplace, while four in ten workers felt stress was not handled well in their organisation.

The poll indicated that eight in 10 Belgians believed that the number of people suffering from job-related stress will rise in the next five years (82%), with 52% saying it will ‘increase a lot’. According to the poll, the figures were “higher than the European average, where 77% expect job-related stress to increase, and 49% believe it will ‘increase a lot’.”

However, the poll indicated that “two-thirds of Belgian employees are confident that if they raise a health and safety issue in their workplace that it would be addressed (62%)”. Belgian employees are “less confident than Europeans as a whole that workplace health and safety issues would be addressed by a supervisor (74% across Europe)”, the poll said.