Workers in Belgium reported sick less often in April this year than in the corresponding month of 2019, according to the latest report by the Securex human resources agency.
The drop was due mainly to massive teleworking as well as temporary unemployment, Securex explained in its report, which was issued on Friday. It contrasted with the performances for the preceding month, which had registered an increase compared to March 2019, due mainly to short-duration absences.
Absences of less than two weeks were less numerous in April 2020 than during the corresponding month of last year. Only an 11% increase in absences of over one month confirmed that the new coronavirus (Covid-19) has affected a large number of workers, Securex said.
The human resources agency explained that employers did not register sick hours for workers on temporary unemployment. Additionally, employees working from home are less prone to call in sick for light symptoms.
“The sick hours are to some extent absorbed by telecommuting and temporary unemployment,” said Heidi Verlinden, who conducted the study. “It is, however, more important than ever to consult a doctor when one is ill, even in the event of light symptoms,” she said.
Since the start of May, doctors have a specific certificate for people fit for work but requiring to be placed in quarantine. Before that, it was not possible to differentiate between such persons and sick employees. As a result, many workers were placed on temporary unemployment by their employers when unable to telecommute, Securex indicated.
Temporary unemployment doubled between March and April. In April 2020, workers were absent one-third of their available time due to temporary unemployment, as against 15% in March. Illnesses and domestic accidents accounted for just 7% of absences.
The Brussels Times