The Estonian government on Thursday reached a substantive agreement to extend through June 30 a temporary measure under which sick leave is currently compensated starting from the second day. The measure had been slated to expire at the end of the year.
The current temporary sick leave compensation measure, according to which employees are paid sickness benefits, i.e. sick pay, starting from the second day of sick leave, will be extended from January 1 through June 30.
According to MP Helmen Kütt (SDE), chair of the Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, Thursday's decision is first and foremost a help to those earning lower or average wages and cannot work remotely.
"The alternative would have been people going to work with coughs and colds and getting others sick so as not to end up struggling with loan payments and other expenses," she stressed.
Under the temporary measure in force since the start of 2021, sick leave is unpaid for the first day, with compensation, i.e. sick pay, paid by the employer for days 2 through 5 and by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa, EHIF) starting from day 6 at a rate of 70 percent.
The coalition Reform Party, Isamaa and Social Democrats intend to submit a joint amendment to the bill initiated by the opposition Center Party that would ensure the change is implemented as quickly as possible.
The extension of the sick pay measure by another half a year will is estimated to require an additional €16 million in funding from the EHIF budget.
Minister of Health and Labor Peep Peterson (SDE) proposed in September that the compensation of sick leave starting from day two be made permanent, noting that the budgetary cost of the proposal would be approximately €30 million.
Editor: Aili Vahtla