Seven in ten Belgian SMEs (small or medium-sized enterprises) are not in favour of moves to reduce the need for sick notes to justify employee time off work, according to research by human resource company SD Worx.
At the end of 2022, the Federal Parliament approved a law allowing employees to be sick for one day three times a year without having to present an official doctor's note. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may deviate from this rule.
Earlier this year, a new bill was introduced to further reduce the sick note requirement to three times three days per employee per calendar year and to all companies regardless of size.
But seven in ten Belgian SMEs are unenthusiastic about getting rid of the sick note. The majority always ask for a medical certificate, even for one day of absence. Only 10% no longer ask for such a note. Companies argue that ending the sick note requirement makes workforce planning more complex, especially in production environments.
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The findings come after HR company SD Worx surveyed 481 managers of SMEs. The majority of Belgian SMEs (53%) always requests a medical certificate.
However, there are regional differences; SMEs in Wallonia request a sick note (after one day) significantly more often (66.2%) than in Flanders (47.0%). Just over one-third (36%) of SMEs only request a medical certificate after several days of absence.
Already any company of 50 employees or more cannot legally demand a doctor's note for one day of leave (up to three times a year). Smaller SMEs can deviate from this and still request this medical certificate for every period of illness, regardless of its duration.