Belgian workers take a lot of sick days—some government workers pulled an average of 35 days a year, twice the rate of non-government employed Belgians, and seven times that of Americans—and why not? The law mandates paid sick leave for a month, and after that a government-backed insurance company will pick up 80% of your salary, guaranteed indefinitely. But officials have decided to do something about it.
WSJ:…Dr. Cuypers and the minister for civil service set up a network of doctor-inspectors around the nation to smoke out malingerers. Each day since January last year, a dozen inspectors such as Vincent Quoidbach have been touring Belgium, knocking on the doors of 150 randomly selected sick and not-so-sick civil servants.
…Once, says Dr. Quoidbach, he discovered that a man taking time off was really working a black-market job, given away by the paint on his hands. Another man answered his door with an undone belt as a woman hurried out the door. Others, faking bad backs, got to the door too fast.
But despite the inspections, some workers are still sneaking in days off.
…Nathalie Deroissart, a 34-year-old accounting assistant in the 30-story national pension office, is a regular for Dr. Cuypers’s inspectors. She regularly takes off sick 20 times a year, usually for stress and high blood pressure. She welcomed medical inspectors six times in 2008. “They’ve always been nice and certified me as sick,” she says. Her comfort on those days, she says, is the 1:45 p.m. broadcast of “Les Feux de l’Amour” (“The Young and the Restless”).
Getting paid to watch soaps all day? Sounds good to us.
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