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    The number of people on long-term sick leave up by 5%

    Credit: Belga

    The number of Belgians who had to go on sick leave for at least a year due to health problems went up again last year. 

    It increased by 5.4% according to figures provided by Inami (the National Illness and Invalidity Insurance Institute), which were published in De Standaard and Het Nieuwsbald on Wednesday. 

    The number of employees and freelancers on invalidity benefit reached 426,607 at the end of last year, compared to 404,657 at the end of 2017. A large majority of them were employees (400,745), but 25,862 were freelancers. The increase is bigger for employees (20,000 more). 

    Long-term absences from work are increasing year on year. There were only 343,926 people on long-term sick leave at the end of 2014, which means there has been a 24% increase in four years. 

    Inami’s statistics show an increase in cases of long-term sickness because of burn-out and depression. There were 3,992 more employee cases in 2018, taking the total number to 91,438. 

    These figures only include people who were off work for at least a year and a day. This means they can’t provide an overall view of how bad the burn-out and depression problem is, as absences of less than a year have not been counted.

    The Brussels Times