Six-fold increase in number of people dismissed from work for medical reasons
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Six-fold increase in number of people dismissed from work for medical reasons

Credit: Belga

In 2020, 3% of the total dismissals from work were due to medical reasons in Belgium, up from 0.5% in the previous year, according to a study by Partena Professional.

Women were disproportionately more affected (an increase of 426% in the number of cases since 2019) in comparison with men (an increase of 268%), however, Partena Professional explained this is due to the greater presence of women in the sectors most affected.

“In fact, it is mainly the sectors that were on the front line during the health crisis, which are predominantly composed of women, such as hospitals and department stores, that suffer the most dismissals due to medical force majeure,” said Wim Demey, Customer Intelligence Manager at Partena Professional.

Force majeure, in this case, is an unforeseeable event outside the control of the people involved and that prevents the employer from providing work and the employee from performing it.

The study found that people were equally affected by this problem across professional categories, meaning workers, employees, and managers were all as susceptible to dismissal for medical reasons.

In case of the employee’s permanent incapacity, legislation requires that a reinstatement procedure be initiated and completed in order to terminate the employment contract for force majeure (without notice or compensation) since 2017, which alongside the impact of the health crisis is considered the reason behind this sharp increase.

Returning to work

Federal Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said on Tuesday he wants to offer better support for people who suffer from long-term illnesses to find a new job that they can better handle.

One in 10 employees is sick for a longer period of time, according to Vandenbroucke, who added that there are far too few medical advisers for this specific problem and that there is a need for a “return-to-work coordinator”, a function that he is working on launching.

“It comes down to creating teams in which different types of people play a part. In addition, you install a kind of return-to-work coordinator whose only task is to look for opportunities to go back to work,” he said.

The Brussels Times