Health Insurance Fund to pay sick leave for first three days

Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) office.
Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) office. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) will pay out for sick leave for the first three days of absence following a government promise for this to happen amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, due to high volumes and legal aspects to be fulfilled, these payments are subject to delay, though will be received by the beginning of May at the latest.

The country is to spend more than €7 million to fund additional sick days.

While the government has already pledged to reimburse the first three days of sick leave, there are still legal hoops to jump through in that the Riigikogu has to approve the government's supplementary budget before it can come into effect, giving the Health Insurance Funds the legal basis for the new deal.

The Health Insurance Fund says its hotline is already experiencing a high volume of calls on the issue.

"We are begging people's patience. We are aware that many people are already waiting for their compensation, and we will start making payouts as soon as possible," said Rain Laane, Health Insurance Fund director, according to ERR's online news in Estonian.

This means that sick leave payouts will take longer than the usual few days pre-crisis, but still will not exceed the statutory requirement of payment within 30 days.

Under the usual system, the health fund would not reimburse the first three days of sick leave. From the fourth to the eighth day, the employer pays out, with the Health Insurance Fund taking over sick leave pay from day nine.

The government has granted an exemption from this practice for the duration of the coronavirus emergency situation – currently set to last to the end of April – and is reimbursing the first three days of sick leave retroactively from March 13, through to the end of the emergency.

The rate of compensation depends on the reason for the absence and is calculated on the basis of the employee's average income over the previous year.

"Once the necessary amends to the payment have been accepted, we will make an additional entry for those who have already completed their sick leave and are now in good health. This may take some time due to the additional burden," Laane said.

The planned change will not affect care vouchers already funded by the Health Insurance Fund from the first day of illness and based on 80 percent of the recipient's average salary for the previous year.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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