The government has given the nod to sick pay being issued from day two of an illness, rather than from day four as had been the case. The legal change, which will also bring the day when the state takes over sick pay from day nine to day seven, has been issued in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said Thursday that the move, which requires the law to pass at the Riigikogu is intended to be temporary, from the start of 2021 until the end of April that year.
The law will also allow close contacts to claim sick pay from day two, in an effort to curb the spread of the virus and get round a problem where, while employers were being told to send staff home with even the mildest potential symptoms of COVID-19, employees were out-of-pocket for three days, even if they didn't develop the virus, and so in practise often came to work – even if they did end up having the virus in some cases.
Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) is due to table the bill at parliament.
He said: "In order to contain the spread of the coronavirus, it is important that this amendment will facilitate compensation on the same terms to the close contacts of infected people."
The prime minister said the cost of the measure will come to about €5 million, about half of which will come from the government's own reserves.
The government's communication office said that Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik is about to make a proposal to the parliament on the government's behalf to initiate the necessary amendments.
Ratas said that the additional cost arising from the implementation of the measure is estimated to be to the tune of five million euros and the government is planning to find half of the necessary amount from its reserve.
The actual sick pay is due from employers from day two to six, at a rate of 70 percent of their average wage, after which the Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) takes over.
Employers groups had said the new regime is open to abuse if individuals opt to feign illness – precisely the reason why the three-day sick-pay-free period has been in place, whereas from January miscreants would be able to do that from day two.
Editor: Andrew Whyte