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    Two in three workers sacked after long-term sickness

    Credit: Deskmag/ Wikimedia Commons.

    Two thirds of workers who were able to go back to work after a long illness through a reintegration process were later dismissed by their employer.

    This is according to recent figures drawn up by the Christian Union ACV, which were published by De Standaard, Het Nieuwsblad and the Gazet Van Antwerpen on Saturday. 

    Around 415,000 people in Belgium suffer from a long-term illness. Sickness and invalidity benefit costs the government more than €8 billion a year. To reduce costs, the federal government decided to help these workers reintegrate back in 2016, but there are no official figures to show how efficient these measures have been.  

    ACV estimates that over 2017, 2018 and the first semester of 2019, at least 52,293 people went through a reintegration process and 67% of them were later sacked. A fifth of these workers are now back at work but 11% of them are still on medical leave, ACV said. They concluded that the system is not doing what it was designed to. 

    “The reintegration process is basically a dismissal process, when the objective was the exact opposite,” says ACV spokesman Herman Fonck. A worker can also request a dismissal themselves or it can be attributed to an inability to adapt work within the business. “But employers do abuse it as well,” ACV said. 

    Sarah Johansson

    The Brussels Times