Second-day sickness compensation may end at year's end

Peep Peterson (SDE).
Peep Peterson (SDE). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was agreed that sick leave benefits would begin on the second day. Now the government has a few days to approve this agreement's renewal, but if no agreement is reached, beginning with the new year, one will stay at home without salary for three days.

Joking aside, it's worth staying sick for the rest of the year, perhaps until December 31, as sickness benefits will be paid from the second day.

The pre-covid arrangement of no sick pay for the first three days is about to be reinstated from next year, if politicians fail to reach an agreement in the coming days.

The Social Democrats are for the continuation of the current system:

"Others, including the prime minister, should realize that while they can work remotely, 50 percent of the Estonian workforce cannot. With spreading of viruses and other infections, people are becoming sicker and treatment wait times are only increasing," Minister of Health and Labor Peep Peterson (SDE) said.

The proposal, which was introduced in September, has been reviewed multiple times by the coalition government and, Peterson said, this delay is deliberate.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said that Isamaa wants more time to think it through.

"The concerns of whether it always boils down to genuine illness is rather prominent among companies. The second [issue] is that we have lengthy waiting lists due to Covid-19; we need these funds to reduce waiting times for specialist care," Kallas explained.

The opposition Center Party has already introduced a similar bill in the Riigikogu, and Peterson said last week that he was prepared to amend the law with opposition votes.

However, on Tuesday he also said: "I do not have a mandate to deal with this issue; rather, I have a mandate from the party to state that it is a critical topic."

Isamaa MP Priit Sibul said that the Social Democrats are late with their request and the opposition bill is essentially the only way to get the amendment passed. Sibul, on the other hand, believes that a middle ground is possible.

"If the coalition discusses it, there is the possibility of extending the period by six months; the next government after the elections would then decide whether there would be a political consensus [to continue the existing system] or a return to the pre-covid arrangement," he said.

Peterson added that the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (Eesti Haigekassa) has the required funds, €29 million, to continue the current system.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Kristina Kersa

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: