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Change to sick note results in shorter absences
Since the introduction last year of a new document for doctors to use when writing up sick notes for periods of incapacity for work, the average duration of absence has decreased by nine days, writes Het Nieuwsblad based on a study by the Independent Insurance Funds.
Medical practicioners have been using the new certificate of incapacity for work since 1 January, 2016. The biggest change to the document is that it includes a deadline, whereas the previous certificate allowed for an indefinite period. This change resulted in the average length of an employee's absence from work being shortened by nine days.
Because the new certificate includes an end date, it needs to be renewed more often, leading to a sharp increase in the total number of sick notes issued, from about 7,000 a month in 2014 and 2015, to about 17,000 monthly in 2016.
According to the National Health Service, the change means more doctor's visits, but also shorter periods of incapacity for work, and therefore less spending.
The average statutory sick pay in Belgium is €40 per day. About 370,000 Belgians currently receive this benefit due to temporary illness or injury.