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Belgium in Brief: The Monday Blues

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Belgium is considering banning the compulsory sick note from a doctor for those who are absent from work due to illness for only a few days, but employers’ organisations are not so keen on the idea.

Even though the majority of employees do act responsibly, employers fear that some people will abuse the system and will exploit the system to their own advantage – for instance, pretending to be sick in order to prolong the weekend a little bit.

“There is a minority [of employees] that cuts corners,” said Danny Van Assche of employers’ organisation Unizo. “Abolishing the compulsory sick note for the first few days of illness opens the door wide to ‘Monday morning sickness’.”

The Neutral Syndicate for the Self-Employed (NSZ) stressed that those who are really ill “deserve all the support they can get, but not those who want to recuperate from a night out or just take a few days off under the pretext of illness.”

“This will open the door to all sorts of excesses,” they fear.

But for Lode Godderis, professor of occupational medicine at KU Leuven, abuse will be limited.

“In companies that have already chosen to abolish the compulsory note, you see that short-term absence is just decreasing,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws.

Regardless, the Federal Government will not make a final decision about the sick notes until next weekend at the earliest, as it is one of a number of other labour market reforms which are currently being negotiated.

What do you think? Would you stay in bed a little longer if you didn’t need a doctor’s note for your work?

Let @johnstonjules know (or @maithechini, as she wrote it today) 

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Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. ‘Historically high energy prices’ lead to €700 increase in bills

The energy market volatility has been highlighted in a recent report which showed that gas and electricity prices are reaching historically high levels on all wholesale markets. Read more.

2. Brussels expands public drinking ban in city centre

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3. Ethnic profiling and violence: 75% of Brussels youth fear police

Around three-quarters of young people in Brussels don’t feel safe when in contact with police, while a majority thinks that police checks and searches often involve ethnic profiling. Read more.

4. Belgian restaurant in world top 50 for 16th time

The three-star restaurant Hof Van Cleve, which is located in East Flanders and is run by chef Peter Goossens, has been included in the top 50 best restaurants across the world for the 16th time. Read More.

5. ‘Possible effect of Covid Safe Ticket’: more Brussels young people want vaccine

The vaccination rate among young people in the Brussels-Capital Region rose slightly, which could possibly have to do with the upcoming implementation of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST), says Inge Neven of the Brussels health inspectorate. Read more.

6. Google Maps will soon suggest most eco-friendly route

Google Maps, one of the most popular navigation services, will soon suggest the most environmentally friendly route as well as the fastest route that it calculates by default. Read more.

7. Employers fear ‘Monday morning sickness’ if Belgium bans sick notes

The Federal Government’s plans to abolish the compulsory sick note for those who are absent from work due to illness for only a few days were not well received by employers, who fear that it will open the door to abuse. Read more.

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