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Increasing number of young workers on long-term sick leave

© Belga
© Belga

Young people aged 25 to 44, women and employees of businesses with more than 199 workers are prone to long-term illnesses, according to a study by the Partena Professional consultancy, released on Thursday. The study’s findings fly in the face of popular belief, according to which the increase in long-term sick leave had to do mainly with people in the 50+ age group.

Since 2014, the percentage of people on long-term sick leave has increased by 27% in the 25-44 age group, as against 5% among 55-64-year olds, while the percentage among women is 30.83%.

The study also shows that absences due to long-term illnesses had increased by 37% in large businesses (employing more than 199 persons), whereas it was less than 10% for small businesses.

Absences due to long-term illnesses in general have been increasing across the board. Since the start of the Government of Prime Minister Charles Michel, the number of such illnesses has gone up by 20%, according to figures from the National health insurance institute, INAMI, quoted by Partena.

For Angela Leone, Talent Partners Expert at HR Partners, a subsidiary of Partena Professional, the increase is all the more worrying since the sources of long-term illnesses seem far from evident. While “in the case of older persons, our clients report mainly physical invalidity to us, young people complain in particular of work overload,” she notes.

Young people reportedly suffer more from the effects of pressure, both at work and in their private lives. “They also say they are looking for greater autonomy,” Leone explained, adding, however, that digitisation and telecommuting did not necessarily contribute to a feeling of autonomy.

Other reasons for absences often mentioned by the respondents include burnout, increasingly burdensome commuting and the location of the workplace.

The Partena Professional study was done on a broad sampling of 15,740 employers and 151, 282 employees from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2018.

The Brussels Times