The average Belgian employee took 12.9 days off work last year as a result of illness, according to figures from human resources consultancy SD Worx.
The figure is only slightly up on last year’s 12.6 days, although the increase over the last five years has reached 15%.
SD Worx looked at the numbers for 700,000 employees at 20,500 businesses in the private sector in Belgium.
A large part of the increase in the average was the growth of long-term sickness, lasting from one month to one year – from 10.7% of all cases five years ago to 12.5% in 2019. And the numbers are far higher in companies with more than 1,000 employees (15.7%) than in those with fewer than 20 (8.4%).
“This sort of long-term absence is growing faster in very large organisations,” said Katrien Cloet of SD Worx. In companies with 20 to 99 employees we’re seeing a stabilisation, or even a light decrease. Nevertheless this is a point that all organisations should pay attention to.”
By contrast, short-term sickness barely increased at all. Notable was the fact that 37% of employees took no sick time off at all in 2019.
February and October were the peak months for sick leave, probably as a result of flu figures, the company said.
Among the sectors with the highest sick-leave figures are retail, logistics and transport, health care, landscaping, construction project management and the food industry.
At the other end of the scale, sectors with a lower rate of absence due to illness include ICT, scientific development, law, accounting services and company management, the creative sector and energy.