Back-to-work drive: “One in ten workers is off due to long-term illness”

Over one in ten Belgian workers are currently off work due to long-term illness.  Belgian health minister Vandenbroucke (Vooruit/Flemish socialist) wants to provide greater support to ensure many can return to work and possibly even to a new job.

Special counsellors are now planned in addition to the occupational physician and the health fund advisor.

Returning to work after a long illness is no easy matter.  Reintegration routes exist and occupational physicians and health fund advisors already provide support, but the number of advisors is too small and according to the health minister they don’t have the same task as a back-to-work coordinator.

“Our new policy will fill a gap.  We want to provide support from somebody who can examine back-to-work opportunities in a firm.  If that’s not possible they will quickly look at other opportunities” says the veteran socialist politician.

“We want to create teams in which different sorts of people play a role.  The Back-to-work coordinator will have the sole role of looking for opportunities for people to return to work.”

A plan is currently being drafted.  “A budget is required” says frank Vandenbroucke, “but laws need to be changed too.  We are aiming for a flying start in 2022.  Everything needs to be initiated in coming months.”

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