People who have been recommended to self-quarantine for two weeks should be able to get a certificate for sick leave for this period, the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) said on Wednesday.
The SDE group in the parliament discussed the state of play in coronavirus prevention. In the group's opinion, the government must send a clear signal that the Health Insurance Fund will compensate the loss of income for people who must self-quarantine over a coronavirus threat for two weeks, spokespeople for the party said.
"The state tells people who have arrived from at-risk areas that they need to stay at home for two weeks. No major problems occur if these people are able to work remotely. Those whose job presumes on-site work, however, are in a much more difficult situation. It is clear that very many employers will be unable or unprepared to pay their employees for work they have not done. Businesses are increasingly monitoring their expenses over the fear of a possible economic crisis, "SDE MP Lauri Laanemets said.
Losing half a month's pay puts people in a difficult situation and jeopardizes families' ability to manage their day-to-day expenses and loan repayments.
"The government must take decisive action at this point and allow for people in quarantine to get a sick leave certificate. That naturally means that a corresponding order must be given to the Health Insurance Fund. Both employees and employers are expecting a clear signal that staying at home will be compensated by the Health Insurance Fund. This step would protect the health of Estonian people, which is of course paramount," he said.
Laanemets noted that this measure would give people the incentive to stay at home, help curb the spread of the virus and ultimately be cheaper for the state.
Estonian trade unions: Who will pay workers who self-isolate due to coronavirus?
On Tuesday, the Confederation of Estonian Trade Unions discussed how employers and employees should resolve a situation where an employee has to stay away from work due to having come into contact with a coronavirus carrier.
Chairman of the confederation Peep Peterson said that the number of people in recommended isolation has grown rapidly in Estonia and will likely continue growing.
"We want a clarification on how staying away from work will be compensated. We are not keen on what employers are saying about unpaid leave or taking out a long period of paid annual leave. Meanwhile, it is also important that businesses' payment difficulties should not lead to redundancies," Peterson said.
Editor: Helen Wright