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“474 companies risk a fine for having too many long-term incapacitated employees” – Insufficient prevention

Publications | Employment Law Team

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Recently, a number of newspapers have reported that companies with too many long-term incapacitated employees are at risk of a fine. The National Social Security Office has sent a warning letter to 474 companies. Most of these are cleaning companies, residential care homes and hospitals.

The word ‘fine’, however, is not correct. It is indeed an additional ‘responsibilisation’ contribution on top of the regular social security contributions companies with a long-term illness record above a certain threshold will have to pay.

After one year of incapacity, the employee’s status changes from ‘incapacitated’ to ‘disabled’.

As employees on long-term incapacity receive benefits from the state after the initial 30 days of guaranteed pay, employers have little or no incentive to reactivate these employees. The direct financial burden is no longer theirs.

This measure aims at encouraging employers to reactivate these long-term incapacitated employees.

Employers with an average of 50 or more employees will have to pay an additional contribution to the National Social Security Office (NSSO) if they have an "above-average inflow" of employees into disability (i.e. more than one year of incapacity). This above-average inflow is determined on the basis of two ratios, assessed over four reference quarters. At least three employees must have entered into disability within these reference quarters.

The contribution is 0.625% of the total gross wages declared to the National Social Security Office in the quarter preceding (Q-1) the quarter in which the above-average disability inflow occurred (Q).

The NSSO will proactively notify employers when their disability rate evolves unfavourably. The first 474 warning letters have already been sent.

These provisions apply to periods of incapacity starting from 1 January 2022 (i.e. invalidity from 1 January 2023).The first responsibilisation contributions will be collected in the second quarter of 2023.