Without one-day doctor's notes, Monday is most common sick day in Belgium

Without one-day doctor's notes, Monday is most common sick day in Belgium
Employees who use their one-day sickness certificate most often do so on a Monday. Credit: Belga/ Nicolas Maeterlinck

In companies where the one-day sickness certificates — allowing people who are off ill for one day to do so without a compulsory sick note from a GP — are already in use, they are most often used on Mondays.

On Thursday evening, the Federal Parliament passed the law to abolish the compulsory sick note for those working for organisations with at least 50 employees and who are absent from work due to illness for just one day at a time. The decision was agreed on this time last year, and it means that around 1.9 million workers will now no longer have to see their GP for a one-day sick note.

"From now on, a sick employee will not have to submit a medical certificate for one day of incapacity for work up to three times per calendar year. The exemption applies both to a one-day illness and to the first day of a longer period of illness," said Annelies Rottiers, HR services provider SD Worx's SME advisor.

Mondays most popular, Friday the least

When the decision was first announced by the Federal Government, employers immediately expressed their opposition, saying it would open the door wide to "Monday morning sickness." Under previous legislation, companies could decide for themselves whether or not to ask for a sick note for a one-day absence.

SD Worx analysed the use of this certificate among 3,200 employers with more than 50 employees in the private sector who already applied this system and found that one in three of the sickness certificates (29.3%) was recuperated on Mondays. Meanwhile, the certificate is almost never used on Fridays (in 3.5% of all cases).

Last year, almost nine in ten employees did not use the one-day sick note, but it is too early to estimate the impact on work absences as the requirement for an official sick note was not officially abolished yet.

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SD Worx, which has been applying this system for more than five years, did not really notice an increase in sick days when the measure was introduced. However, one in five employees will have invoked it about once a year by 2022.

While the effects of this new law are feared by employers, half of SMEs do believe it could have an impact on workforce planning. This is largely due to the fact that many of these companies have fewer than 50 employees, meaning they can still derogate from this rule and are still allowed to request a sick note for each day of illness.

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