Robin Utrecht

Parliament scraps requirement to provide your employer with a sick note for one day’s illness

In what was its last plenary session before the All Saints recess, the Federal Parliament approved a bill that will scrap the requirement to provide your employer with a sick note if you are off work for just oner day. But what do the new rules mean in practice and when will they become law? And won’t no longer having to provide a sick note for one day’s sick leave lead to more people being off work sick? In an interview with VRT News Geert Vermeir of the the HR service provider SD Worx answers a series of questions related to the new rules on sick leave. 

When will the new rules come into force?

Currently if you are feeling a bit off colour and are too ill to work you are obliged to provide you employer with a sick note from day one. Soon this will change, but how soon?

"The new law will first need to be publised in the State Journal”, Geert Vermeir told VRT News. “Ten days after publication the new rule will become law. I estimate that this will be in the second half of November, possibly at the end of November”.

Do the new rules apply to everyone?

No, the measures don’t apply to all employees. The rules are also different for civil servants.

"The measure only applies to large companies in the private sector, companies with at least 50 employees. This means that it applies to vast majorities of people employed in the private sector”.

Those that work in small and medium-sized firms with fewer than 50 employees will still need to provide a sick note if they are off work ill for one day. After a year the new rules will be reviewed and then it will be decided if they will be extended to cover those that work for smaller companies."

How many times will you be able to be off work for a day without providing a sick note?

3 times per calendar year. The 3 days may not follow on from each other. They must be individual days or the first day of illness ahead of longer period of sick leave. Anyone off work for more than one day will still need to provide a sick note from their doctor. 

But won’t this lead to more sick leave?

Many employers have expressed concern that the new measures will lead to more people taking sick leave. But will the scrapping of the requirement to provide a sick note for one day’s sick leave not lead to more people being off work with the so-called “Monday morning flu”?

Mr Vermeir told VRT news that it is true that there are slightly more people that call in sick on Monday’s than on other days of the week. However, it is not clear whether people do this because they want to extend their weekend as on Friday’s the number of people reporting sick is no higher than on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Mr Vermeir added that companies that have already relaxed the rules on sick notes have not seen any dramatic increase in sick leave.

Although the requirement to provide a sick note for one day’s sick leave is to be scrapped for most sometime next month an employer will still be able to demand that the employee telephones to explain why they are absent. 

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