The House passes the “commuting back to work” bill: here’s what will change as of January 1, 2023

The issue of getting the long-term sick back to work is part of the stated ambition of the Vivaldi coalition to achieve an employment rate of 80% by 2030.

The Council of Ministers had approved the draft law in mid-May, confirming the announcements made in October 2021. The text had been approved in committee just before the parliamentary recess.

A mechanism will be set up to support the long-term patient able to work again, even partially, towards employment by finding suitable formulas.

The process will begin with a questionnaire designed to assess how the person concerned feels and if he is ready to return to work. From 1 January 2023, in the event of repeated and unjustified refusal to complete it or to respond to the following invitations, the worker risks losing 2.5% of his incapacity for work allowance.

Two actors should play a key role in this phase: the medical advisor and the Return to Work (ReAT) coordinator. The bill creating these “return to work” coordinators has already been approved in plenary session, in December 2021.

The text was approved by the majority, joined by DéFI. The PTB voted against. N-VA, Vlaams Belang and Les Engagés abstained.

An action was carried out Thursday morning by members of Medicine for the people, an organ of the PTB, place Surlet de Chokier in Brussels, to protest against this vote. The action was also supported by the Christian Mutuality, the CSC and the National Central of Employees (CNE).

The ‘economy’ part of the file, led by Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne, was validated in early June by the Council of Ministers. A separate bill will soon be considered in the House. On the proposal of the Minister for the Self-Employed and SMEs, David Clarinval, the Council of Ministers also approved the “self-employed” section at the end of June.

The whole system must therefore come into force on 1 January.

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