• Exemption from medical
    certificate for first day
    of incapacity for work

Exemption from medical certificate for first day of incapacity for work

21 November 2022

As an employee, you are required by law to notify your employer immediately if you are work incapacitated.

Under the current regulations, you must then submit a medical certificate (sick note) to your employer if a collective labour agreement (CLA) or the work regulations require it or, in the absence thereof, if your employer requests it. This certificate must be sent or handed in within two working days (except in cases of force majeure), unless a collective labour agreement or work regulations specify a different deadline.

Some companies already waive the submission of a medical certificate for short-term absences.

This practice is now generalised for the first day of incpacity for work.

What is changing?

The law of 30 October 2022 introduces an exemption from the obligation to submit a medical certificate for the first day of incapacity for work up to three times in a calendar year.

With this, the government wants to follow in the footsteps of other European countries, which have already abolished the medical certificate for short-term absence. In these countries, this measure is said to have had a positive impact on short-term absenteeism and even led to a reduction.

Moreover, with this measure, the government wants to reduce the administrative burden on GPs.

The employee must still notify his employer immediately of his incapacity for work.

 

Does this exemption apply regardless of the duration of incapacity for work?

This exemption applies both to a one-day incapacity for work and to the first day of a longer period of incapacity for work.

An employee who determines after the first day of incapacity for work that his incapacity will last longer may also benefit from this measure.

This prevents the employee from having to have his incapacity for work determined retroactively. In this case, the employee must provide a medical certificate from the second day of incapacity.

 

Does this exemption apply to all companies?

SMEs employing fewer than 50 workers on 1 January of the calendar year in which the incapacity for work occurs may derogate from this measure by means of a collective labour agreement or work regulations.

Once a company exceeds the limit of 50 employees (on 1 January of the relevant calendar year), it can thus no longer use this derogation.

 

As an employee, should I automatically use the exemption?

As an employee, you are not obliged to use the medical certificate exemption for every period of absence. You can also choose to submit a medical certificate to your employer for the first day of your incapacity for work and thus keep one of your three annual exemptions for another time of incapacity.

 

As an employer, how long do I have to comply with the measure and what are the action points?

The law of 30 October 2022 will come into force on 28 November 2022.

Employers are therefore asked to pay special attention to the content of their work regulations to comply with the new law.

As a reminder, SMEs with fewer than 50 employees can choose not to apply the exemption, but must then conclude a collective labour agreement or include the derogation in their work regulations.