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Staff absence due to long-term illness on the rise in Belgium
The number of workers taking long-term sick leave in Belgium is rising at an alarming rate, Securex warns. The HR and health insurance company based its finding on figures from the National Health and Disability Insurance (Inami). According to Inami, 370,400 people last year were absent from work for an extended period of time due to illness, 64% more than a decade ago and Belgium's highest number ever. Between late 2014 and the end of 2015, the number rose by 8%, compared with a 5-6% annual increase in previous years.
The majority of the long-term sick, about 347,000 people, are employees. But another 23,500 self-employed people have also received long-term sick leave benefits for at least one year. The government last year withdrew nearly €5 billion to provide them with a sickness benefit.
According to Inami, the figures are a reflection of the sharp increase in the number of recognised psychological disorders in recent years. In addition, reforms passed by the government under Elio Di Rupo and Charles Michel are keeping more 50- and 60-year-olds in the labour market, a group that tends to fall ill more often.