Last year €223 million were paid out for sickness, care and maternity benefits by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa). More than half was allocated for sick leave.
The benefits were paid to 267,000 people in total. The amount reimbursed for sick leave was €131 million.
In total, spending was €31 million higher in 2021 than in 2020.
Part of the increase was a change to the law which allowed sick pay to be paid from day two, rather than day three, to help limit the spread of coronavirus.
The number of people taking sick leave has been at a record high over the past two years due to the pandemic. In 2021, there were requests for sick pay 486,000, an increase of 130,000 - 37 percent - on the year before.
Riho Peek, head of the fund's finance department, said December 2021 broke records with 62,000 people requesting leave followed by November when 53,000 were opened.
It is assumed the number of people taking leave will not fall dramatically in 2022.
Editor: Helen Wright