During a video meeting on Tuesday, the Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu received an overview of a regulation set to take effect soon which will allow employees to be compensated for their first three days of sick leave.
Committee chairman Tõnis Mölder (Center) said that with the regulation in question, €213.2 million in the supplementary budget will be allocated to the Health Insurance Fund. Of this amount, €40.7 million is meant for the payment of additional allowances to ensure social protections, such as additional sickness benefits.
The rest, or €172.5 million, will be allocated in order for it to be possible for the Health Insurance Fund to ensure the sustainable operation of the healthcare system and availability of quality healthcare services during the emergency situation, Mölder said according to spokespeople for the Riigikogu.
The standing committee chair also highlighted an increase in the number of work incapacity certificates issued in Estonia.
While altogether 171,000 certificates of incapacity for work and care leave certificates were issued in Estonia in the first four months of 2019, this year, over 200,000 such certificates have been issued already. The average duration of these certificates has increased as well.
"Looking at the statistics, it can be seen that some 60,000 certificates of incapacity for work have been issued since the coronavirus started spreading in Estonia, and the holders of these certificates, which have been confirmed by a family doctor, will get sick leave benefits staring from the first day under the new measure," Mölder said.
Committee deputy chairwoman Helmen Kütt (SDE) described the compensation of employees for sick days beginning with the first day of absence from work as indispensable additional support for many during the crisis.
"Should someone, in addition to a wage cut or loss of work, also fall ill, each additional item of support is very welcome," she said.
Kütt noted that a major downside to the government's plan is that employers will still be required to pay compensation for an employee's fourth to eighth days of sick leave.
"In the current crisis, many employers have found themselves in a difficult situation in which they would need the support of the state themselves," she said. "Thus it is unfortunate that the Social Democrats' proposal to leave compensating employees for days four to eight of illness to be done fully by the state did not find support. This measure would have also helped many employers and facilitated coping with the crisis."
In addition, it will also be possible for dental care and specialist medical care providers to resume the scheduled treatment of patients if they are able to ensure the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and fulfill all other requirements arising from the emergency situation, Mölder added.
The regulation will take effect retroactively beginning March 12.
Editor: Aili Vahtla