Self-employed cancer patients face longer recovery, VUB study shows

Self-employed cancer patients face longer recovery, VUB study shows
Credit: UZ Leuven.

Cancer patients that are self-employed in Belgium face a longer recovery period than employees, a recent study by the VUB shows. Elke Van Hoof, a clinical psychology professor, attributes this to the limited sick pay they are entitled to under the current social security system. As a result, many choose to return to work earlier than they should.

In Belgium, around 10,000 self-employed workers are diagnosed with cancer every year, according to a VUB study published in Het Nieuwsblad on Friday. However, they face a longer path to complete recovery, which Van Hoof puts down to Belgium's social security system.

She explains that the self-employed who are recovering from cancer have to fill out "so much paperwork" in exchange for "limited" financial support in their recovery. As a result, many decide to return to work sooner than they should.

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Furthermore, the professor pointed out the complications surrounding accounting, crucial for sick pay. "Because of tax optimisation, many self-employed entrepreneurs pay themselves lower wages," Van Hoof explained. "But it is the salary that determines the benefits, so they are often much lower than they should be."

To that end, the psychology professor has called for the social security system to be adapted so that increased benefits be made accessible to the self-employed suffering from illnesses so that their return to work is not rushed to the detriment of their recovery.

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