Absenteeism is and remains a thorny issue for many employers. Massive sick leave can present employers with numerous organizational and financial challenges. The influx of new regulations in this area does not make things any easier. In this article we bring together a number of recent legislative changes concerning work disability.
Is a sick bill still required?
The law containing various provisions relating to incapacity for work amends the rule regarding the submission of a sick bill. The general rule is that an employee on today for No sick bill three times per calendar year must submit for the first day of disability. Thus, for a period of absence exceeding one day, a sick bill must still be submitted. The employee also remains obliged to inform his employer immediately of his absence due to illness.
Under certain conditions, however, SMEs can escape this relaxation. If your company has fewer than 50 employees, you can derogate from this exemption by stating in a collective bargaining agreement or the labor regulations that this relaxation does not apply to your company, and that your personnel must therefore submit a bill before the first day of illness. If you do not do this, the general rule will still apply to your company.
Reintegration Pathway 2.0
To achieve a faster promote return to work of (long-term) disabled workers, by the end of 2022, legislation on reintegration was reformed and simplified. A reintegration process consists of a formal procedure in which the labor physician assesses whether, and when, an employee can resume work and the steps to be taken to do so. We list the most important elements:
- The trajectory may be through the employee (or his attending physician) from the first day of disability started up. The employer may submit a request after the third month of continuous disability or upon a certificate of permanent disability.
- The occupational physician may three decisions take: (A) temporary incapacity of the employee, (B) permanent incapacity of the employee, and (C) inability to do assessment due to medical reasons. Will the employee three times did not accept the invitation of the labor doctor, then the reintegration process is terminated.
- The employer will also more thorough the concrete opportunities from adapted or other work must investigations, taking into account the recommendations of the occupational physician.
- As an employer, you should also have a customized reintegration plan provided, adapted to the employee's state of health and abilities.
- Finally, the new reintegration procedure is fully disconnected of the procedure for termination of the employment contract due to medical force majeure (see below).
New procedure medical force majeure
From now on, there is also a new procedure for termination of the labor contract due to medical force majeure. Through this procedure, an employer (or employee) can request the free termination of the cooperation given the employee's permanent disability.
Proceedings will henceforth only be able to be initiated after the employee is At least nine months of continuous disability is and provided there is no reintegration process ongoing is.
Termination for medical force majeure will only be possible if it is ultimately found that it is not possible for the employee to permanently impossible is to make it perform agreed work. So you still need a decision from the labor doctor to proceed with the termination of the employment contract.
In addition, it requires:
- Did not ask the employee to explore options for modified or other work;
- Asked the employee to explore the possibility of modified or other work, and:
- the employer has informed it, via a reasoned report, that this is technically or objectively impossible, or cannot be demanded for valid reasons;
- the employer has delivered the plan for modified or other work refused by the employee to the employee and to the labor physician.
Sick during leave, now what?
Finally, influenced by European Directive 2003/88/EC, there is a adaptation of Belgian vacation regulations imminent.
Specifically, this change will mean that when an employee who becomes ill during his vacation, he will be able to take the vacation days lost due to illness at a later time. Indeed, today, when an employee becomes sick during his leave, this leave period continues as if the employee were not sick. Therefore, it is not possible to recover the "lost" leave days.
This proposal has not currently been converted into final regulations. However, it is predicted to go into effect in early 2024. We will keep you informed in advance.
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