Employers' union, ministry strike deal on two-year sick pay rules change ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Estonian Employers' Confederation (ETTK) chief Arto Aas.
Estonian Employers' Confederation (ETTK) chief Arto Aas. Source: ERR

An organization representing employers in Estonia has given its consent to new sick pay rules which will make them liable for sick pay from day two of an illness. The scheme is set to last two years.

Head of the (ETTK) Arto Aas said Tuesday evening that the body had reached an agreement with the social affairs ministry to install a system where employers were liable for sick pay from days two to five, after which the state would take over.

He said: "Employers will cover two to five days, and we will temporarily introduce this change for two years to account for the coronavirus time and, hopefully, somewhat calmer times thereafter. Two years is enough time to assess these effects on employers, the public, and on the health insurance fund."

The previous system had meant employers did not have to pick up the sick-pay tab until day four, with the state, via the health insurance fund (Haigekassa) taking over from day nine.

The system, aimed partly at avoiding abuse through staff "chucking a sickie" had come under pressure during the pandemic, when employers were asked to ensure staff with even the mildest coronavirus symptoms be sent home to quarantine. Since the latter ran the risk of losing out financially, the risk was they would go to work despite having symptoms or potentially, the virus, which they could then pass on to others.

Several current coronavirus outbreaks identified by the Health Board (Terviseamet) relate to the workplace.

One possible contested point, Aas said, was whether to make the change temporary or permanent – as noted it is temporary for two years as thing stand.

Aas also said that his organization wanted to see analysis on how state costs via sick pay would be covered.

The cabinet had previously agreed to the new regulations, in principle; the social affairs ministry is now to complete the draft bill which would make the change enshrined in legislation, sending it to a coordination circle and then for Riigikogu debating and voting, after which, if it passes, the new regime could be in place in the new year.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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