SDE MP calls for full sick-pay from day one amid soaring coronavirus rates
Sick pay in full and from day one of a period of illness is essential in curbing the spread of the coronavirus, Social Democratic Party (SDE) MP Jevgeni Ossinovski says
Speaking at the Riigikogu on Thursday during a session which saw a bill to prolong the current sick pay regime by one more year, Ossinovski said: "From the point of view of epidemic control, this gives people additional motivation to actually stay home when infected and not have to go to work, so that they do not have the inverse motivation not to get tested, due to fear over losing income."
The state budget must cover the cost, he added.
"The cost is undoubtedly high, depending on how widespread the infection is. But let us think about the alternative cost. During the second wave this spring, letting the coronavirus situation get out of hand meant an supplementary budget which cost €700 million. In this context, to say that the government is not able to find a few million euros to ensure that coronavirus positive people stay home from day one with this disease and that they are not penalized financially --this is not serious talk," Ossinovski added.
While he welcomed the extension of the sick pay regime, this was not enough, he said.
The issue is also an ethical one, he added, noting that usually, given the current high levels of viral spread in Estonia, those contracting the virus are not at fault.
At present, sick pay comes into effect from day two of a period of illness, with the bill footed by employers for the first four days, before the state takes over payment.
However, Tallinn already offers sick pay from day one for residents living in the capital. This initiative, started by the city council, was introduced as the infection rate rose in the spring. At the time, the national government rejected a proposal to introduce the measure.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte