Belgium wants to do away with sick notes for brief absences, confirmed Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke on Friday morning.
The Federal Government already announced that it was committed to getting rid of short-term sick notes last autumn, but the implementation of the scheme has been delayed.
However, the plans will still go ahead, confirmed Vandenbroucke during the Council of Ministers on Friday, adding that the sick notes for short-term absences only bring “counterproductive paperwork.”
The sick note would be dropped for “a limited number of very short absences,” said Vandenbroucke. However, while last autumn’s decision concerned notes for just one day, it is unclear how many days it would concern when the reform will take effect.
The aim is to free GPs from the unnecessary paperwork the notes bring with them, so they have more time for other things, such as counselling the long-term sick.
Previously, employers spoke out against the ending short-term notes, fearing that it would spark a “Monday morning sickness” trend and pointing out that people could use the mechanism to pretend to be sick in order to prolong the weekend a little bit.
“I find this an incomprehensible decision,” employers’ organisation VBO’s Managing Director Pieter Timmermans told VRT in October last year. “This is a measure that stands on its own and is inspired by what used to exist in the government.”
For him, the measure sends the message that someone can be absent without informing their employer. “The measure will not affect absenteeism whatsoever,” said Timmermans. “On the contrary, employees who are on the job will be punished for those who cut corners.”