Law initiating sick pay from day two of an illness passes Riigikogu vote

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Riigikogu sitting in progress. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

A law which shortens the period before which sick pay kicks in has passed with flying colors at the Riigikogu.

The bill, now act, means employers are liable for their employees' sick pay from day two to day five of a period of illness, after which the state takes over. Previously the first three days of sickness were not covered by sick pay from any source.

Ninety-three MPs voted in favor of the bill, approved by the government last month after a period of consultation with employers' representatives and trade unions, at the 101-seat Riigikogu.

The new regime will apply for the first four months of 2021, covering doctor's certificates issued from January 1 to April 30 inclusive.

While employers' have to foot the bill from day two of sick leave, the period they have to cover over all has reduced from five days to four.

The change was prompted by the pandemic. While employees were urged to stay home if they exhibited even the slightest symptoms of COVID-19 or had been in contact with someone with the virus, being out-of-pocket for three days discouraged many from doing so, heightening the risk of the virus being passed on at work.

Several workplace outbreaks have been identified across Estonia since the pandemic began, some of them with cases stretching into double figures.

The Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) has to cover the sick pay from day six, rather than day nine as before, which will cost it an estimated extra €5 million, which will be split evenly between its own budget and the government's.

The previous system had operated in order to cut out abuse of the system by "chucking a sickie", since those doing so would go unpaid for up to three days.

The Riigikogu's last working day of 2020 is tomorrow, Thursday, meaning all important business - the state budget passed on Wednesday as well - has been wrapped up. Last year's, the chamber was regaled by christmas carols or other performances, individually by various MPs, on the final day.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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