Center calls Christmas break Riigikogu sitting to process sick pay bill

A Riigikogu sitting in progress.
A Riigikogu sitting in progress. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Riigikogu speaker Jüri Ratas (Center) has called an extraordinary parliamentary session for Wednesday, December 28, to process a bill which would allow sick pay from day two of an illness to continue in the new year.

The Riigigkogu halted for the holiday recess last week, hence the need to call the off-schedule sitting in order to process the bill.

Sick pay from day two of a period of illness has been in place since the arrival of the coronavirus, and was originally installed as a way of discouraging those who had contracted the virus from attending work.

Without the new bill, the system would revert to the pre-Covid procedure of sick pay from day four of a period of illness.

The main argument in favor of this practice was to mitigate abuse of the system whereby some employees might "chuck a sickie" for a short period of time on full sick pay.

The bill was proposed by Ratas' party, Center, and had already passed its first reading, but would not be able to be fully processed before January 9, without the additional sitting.

The deadline for amendments to the bill is 5:15 p.m. on December 21.

A second and third reading are required for the bill to enter into law; Center hopes to get both readings accomplished on December 28.

Center's Riigikogu chief whip, Jaanus Karilaid, said: "If the current government really gets things right, the social affairs committee will be able to meet on December 28, directly after the second reading is finished, and an hour later, we will be able to carry out the bill's third reading."

In order to go ahead, an extraordinary Riigikogu sitting requires the backing of at least 21 (one fifth) of MPs. Center has 23 MPs.

Center is in opposition. Reform, Isamaa and the Social Democrats (SDE) are in office.

The current sick pay regime, while it brought forward sick pay to day two, also shortened the total number of days an employer has to pay the benefit – now from day two to day five. Sick pay beyond that is on the state.

Day one of a period of sick leave would be without pay (see above), as opposed to the first three days as before.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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