Number of sick leave up significantly from last year

Coronavirus testing kit.
Coronavirus testing kit. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

More people have stayed home from work this year due to the extensive spread of the coronavirus than in the previous year, which was already a record-breaking year in terms of sick leave. Health Insurance Fund data does not show the rate decreasing as people have been more cautious in spreading the coronavirus.

Health Insurance Fund board member Pille Banhard said the number of sick leaves taken this year is the highest all-time already with a month left to go. "Last year, there were significantly more people staying home than compared to the week prior. If we wrap up 2021, we have already exceeded 2020 by more than 100,000 sick leave taken," Banhard said.

Last year, 360,000 cases of sick leave were opened. Formalizing sick leave for coronavirus close contacts has changed during the year, which is why the data might be skewed some. Still, Health Insurance Fund data shows that there were days in March with more than 3,000 close contacts on sick leave. That number did not exceed 1,000 in the fall.

"While there were many more close contacts on sick leave in the spring than now, we can also say that elderly and risk group vaccinations started in the fall. The working age population - vaccinations were started in May. There was actually the position of vaccinated people not having to isolate in case they were close contacts. Perhaps vaccinations are the reason why mostly working age people get infected and they do not need sick leave," Banhard said.

Infections in school during the fall could also mean that people have stayed home with a sick child and have taken carer's allowance leave. While the spread of the coronavirus has receded, scientific council head Irja Lutsar warns that people must still be alert to not infect their colleagues.

"If three months have passed since recovery or the last vaccine dose, people should still remain in self-isolation, if there is a positive case in their household or home," Lutsar said.

The number of active sick leave is not decreasing, Pille Banhard said the number of sick leave for November could exceed the numbers for October.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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