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Belgium the sick man of Europe?

Published on 04/08/2004

4 August 2004

BRUSSELS – The number of Belgian employees on long-term sick leave is steadily rising, it emerged on Wednesday.

According to Flemish dailies De Standaard and Het Volk, the number of invalid workers has risen by 25,000 since 1998, representing a 15 percent growth in numbers over the past five years.

This means that by the end of 2003, 200 000 workers were on sick benefit.

At the start of the nineties, the percentage of invalid employees was in decline, but since that time an accelerating rise has been charted.

Mark Andries, an expert working with one of the main Flemish employers organisation, has sounded the alarm bell.

“These figures are worrying. Either the population has become sicker or invalidity benefits are being misused,” he said.

He said he had not excluded the possibility of so-called “Dutch disease”, where many older workers in the Netherlands opted for the more lucrative option of sickness benefits rather than traditional retirement payments.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian News