Belgian health care: What to do if you are unwell or recovering from an accident

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We offer more useful advice about the Belgian health care system.

Picture the scene – you have settled into your new country, and your brand-new dream job then, guess what? You fall ill, properly ill, and you have to take time off work or, worse, you are involved in an accident that leaves you bedridden for weeks. So, who to turn to, what to do?

It happens time and time again – expats fall foul of a system which, to be fair, is only set up to help in Belgium.

But, by following a series of logical steps, you can at least ensure that your time spent out of action is remunerated as well as possible.

Who to contact and when?
For a full calendar month (28 days), your salary will be paid by your employer during your incapacitation. However, it is important to ensure that you send your employer a medical attestation as soon as you possibly can, and try to indicate how long you feel you will be absent from work.

Make sure, as well, that you involve your health insurance provider – send them an identical medical attestation and fill out any other forms that are required. Your health insurance provider will then ensure that the administrative formalities are addressed with your employer, to ensure that your allowance commences after 28 days.

Working again
If you are fortunate enough to be able to restart work by the time you have indicated on your medical attestation, there is nothing further you need to do, and if you are able to clock on again earlier than you predicted, make sure that your health insurance provider is informed – your employer can send them a special form.

Also, if you feel that you are ready to start work again but don’t feel up to a full-time commitment, you can resume half-time, but you need to acquire the approval of your medical advisor and employer before your starting date.

Together’s research has revealed that problems also occur when returning to work is simply not possible within the timeframe you have specified.

Many people forget that, if this is the case, you need to have an ‘extension’ of your incapacity, and a new medical attestation needs to be sent to your health insurance provider in 3 working days. If you omit to do this, you risk getting caught up in Belgian bureaucracy (not recommended) with delays to or even omission of your extended claim.

Also, lightning can strike twice and, if you are unable to work again within 14 days of returning to work, a medical attestation must again be sent to your health insurance provider in 3 days of being unable to work again. If it is after 14 days that you fall ill again, this is categorized as a new medical incapacity, and the same procedure (medical attestation) must be followed.

If you have any further questions about dealing with work incapacity, don’t hesitate to ask Partena Business & Expats, the health insurance provider specialized in international conventions. They will be only too happy to help!