Belgium's employee sick leave program allows workers to take a great deal of sick leave, or even unlimited sick leave. One study, reported in "Belgians Take Lots of Sick Leave, And Why Not, They're Depressed" in the Wall Street Journal on January 9, 2009, showed that Belgian government employees in some departments had an average of 35 sick days per year (the national rate was half that). The U.S. average of sick days per year is 4.5, and the European average is 11.3 days. Sick days in Europe cause a loss of 1.3% to GDP (Gross Domestic Product). In Belgium, employers pay for sick leave for 30 days, and then, generally, government insurance pays for as long as the employees need it. While people pay for these benefits through very high taxes, it could be argued that mandated paid sick leave can leave workers less-than-motivated.
Some of the reforms mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article include having government workers check on sick employees at home to see how they are. In this way, they can encourage workers who are functional to return to work, or they can encourage people with mental health issues to get the help they need. However, given Belgium's generous sick leave policies, it is likely that high rates of absenteeism will remain a problem unless workers are subject to more rigorous medical exams or unless their pay starts to decline a great deal after a period in which they don't work.