The new law dated 10 August 2018 on “prolonged sickness” has two main objectives: ensure the continuity of the employment contract in case of prolonged sickness and introduce a gradual return to work for therapeutic reasons – Entry into force on 1 January 2019.

Ensure the continuance of the employment contract in case of prolonged sickness

The sickness of the employee can last until the expiry of the employee’s entitlement to sickness benefits. The employment contract ends automatically with the expiry of this entitlement. Currently, the entitlement to sickness benefits is limited to a total of 52 weeks over a reference period of 104 weeks.

The law increases the period of work incapacity to 78 weeks over a period of reference of 104 weeks.

Gradual return to work for therapeutic reasons

The law recognises the therapeutic part-time (mi-temps thérapeutique) by regulating the gradual return for therapeutic reasons. With the employer’s agreement, a gradual return for therapeutic reasons can be decided “if the return to work and the work performed are considered as being likely to improve the employee’s health condition”.

The sickness benefits will continue to be payable during this period of gradual return for therapeutic reasons.

The gradual return for therapeutic reasons scheme will be assimilated to work incapacity. This period of gradual return for therapeutic reasons scheme will be entirely covered, in the same manner as a period of work incapacity. The legal provisions applicable in case of sickness, inter alia labour law provisions, will be applicable during this period.

The entry into force of the new legal provisions is foreseen for 1 January 2019.