A new standardised questionnaire to assess whether someone on long-term sick leave can return to work will be introduced next month. The new questionnaire was announced by the federal Social Affairs minister Maggie De Block (Open Vld) on Saturday.
The questionnaire is the fruit of a partnership between KU Leuven, Liège University, the National Illness and Invalidity Insurance Institute (INAMI) and health insurers.
“15 questions were selected based on a scientific study. These questions look at the patient’s health and professional situation. The patient themselves also does an evaluation on their chances of going back to work,” the minister said. Mrs De Block wants health insurers to accompany patients during this difficult period. The problem is that around 415,000 employees and freelancers in Belgium have currently been on long-term sick leave for more than a year.
“After a year, it is very difficult to accompany a person through their return to work. We need to offer patients support before the three-month cut off. This support has to correspond to the sick employee’s exact needs,” said Professor Lode Godderis (KU Leuven).
Completing the questionnaire will not be obligatory. “A completed questionnaire will provide the consulting doctor with essential information, additional to the medical data. This will tell us whether it is a good idea to start a reintegration process or not. This process allows the patient to choose to return to work at their own pace,” Mrs De Block said.