The first three days of sick leave should not require a doctor's note, family doctors have said, in a series of suggestions to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF) about the reorganization of sick leave to reduce the burden on doctors.
One suggestion is that proof of sickness should not be needed for the first three days and that employees should be allowed to work out a solution with their employer, such as working from home, changing their shift pattern or disciplinary action if needed, which would cut the administrative burden on family doctors.
On Monday, newspaper Eesti Päevaleht reported Karmen Joller, a member of the Board of the Society of General Practitioners, had sent a proposal to the head of the EHIF Rain Laane wanting the fund to discuss sick leave with employers.
Joller said shorter illnesses, which do not require medical intervention, and phone calls related to sick notes, increase the administrative burden on family doctors and there has been an increase in people abusing the system to take time off work.
Evelin Trink, head of public relations at the EHIF, confirmed Joller's proposal had been discussed but no agreement has been reached yet and Arto Aas, head of the Estonian Employers' Confederation, said his organization does not yet have a formal position on the proposal, but they are cautious as abuse of the system may increase.
The Ministry of Social Affairs is currently preparing a draft for strengthening primary health care and no amendments are planned for the first three days of sick leave. Heli Paluste, head of the Ministry of Social Affair's health network, said it could be included at a later stage.
However, the bill includes another amendment to alleviate the workload of family doctors, which gives a nurse the ability to open and terminate sick notes for up to five days.
Editor: Helen Wright