The chances are high that you have already been confronted with long-term sick employees within your organisation. You most certainly know the possibilities for reintegration and your obligations in that regard. But beware: stronger rules concerning reintegration policies and processes enter into force on 1 October 2022.
What are the key changes?
A Royal Decree of 11 September 2022 reforms the rules on reintegration of sick employees. The new provisions enter into force on 1 October 2022 and will also apply to ongoing reintegration processes.
As an employer, you need to keep in mind at least the following new arrangements:
- The prevention advisor-company doctor will contact the sick employee as soon as possible about the various options when returning to work.
- A number of time limits will be adjusted. As an employer, you can start a reintegration process as early as after three months of sickness.
- From now on, the prevention advisor-company doctor can make three possible decisions, focused on the employee’s return to work:
- It is possible to resume the agreed work in the future (possibly with adaption of the workplace) and, in the meantime, adapted or different work is possible (“decision A”),
- It is permanently impossible to perform the agreed work, but adapted or different work is possible (“decision B”), or
- The reintegration assessment is deferred for medical reasons (“decision C”).
Thus, the prevention advisor-company doctor can no longer decide that the employee cannot perform the agreed work and that no adapted or different work is possible.
- Your obligations as an employer to investigate the possibilities for adapted or other work and to draw up a reintegration plan are clarified and strengthened.
- The collective reintegration policy is reinforced: as an employer, you must document and evaluate the policy annually, and inform the committee for prevention and protection at work.
What about medical force majeure?
Termination of the employment agreement due to medical force majeure will be separated from the reintegration process. A pending draft act will introduce a new procedure for such termination. Only after a minimum of nine months of continuous incapacity to work would termination due to medical force majeure be possible, and then only if no ongoing reintegration process is in place.
We would be happy to provide you with a full overview of the new arrangements and to advise and assist you in adapting your organisation’s reintegration policy.