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Illnesses are keeping more Belgians away from work

08:06 12/03/2014

New figures reveal that an increasing number of Belgians are being forced to stay home from work due to illness. On an average workday, up to 6% of workers in the private sector are calling in sick. The figures show that illnesses have increased by one-third over the last decade.

The increase is largely due to people suffering long-term illess that prevent them from working, with 2.27% of those taking sick leave having been off for over a year. This marks the first time that those with long-term illness outnumber those with an acute illness.

The phenomenon is having a major effect on productivity in the country: The cost to the Belgian economy is more than €10 billion a year. The figures point to an ageing population as the root cause of long-term illness. Although older employees are sick less often, when they are struck with an illness, they stay away from work much longer.

With the most common illnesses - headache, insomnia and depression - making up 37% of all sick days, and the number of sick days of those over 50 doubling in the last 12 years, the problems point toward a work culture that may be in need of reform.

Written by Andrew King