Sick leave compensation returns to pre-coronavirus system in July

Medicine and a thermometer (photo is illustrative).
Medicine and a thermometer (photo is illustrative). Source: Karin Koppel

Sickness benefits will be paid from the fourth day rather than the second from July after the government agreed to return to the pre-pandemic system.

The previous Reform-SDE-Isamaa coalition agreed to extend the measure until June 30, despite doubts from Reform, at the end of last year.

The government has now decided to return to the old system.

"With Covid, the reimbursement of sick days arose from the second sick day, so that the first is at the expense of the person and the second is at the expense of the state. Before it was that three days were at the person's own expense, then the employer and then the state, so we're going back to the old system," Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev (Reform) told "Aktuaalne kaamera".

Võrklaev said the measure, introduced in 2021, was supposed to be temporary.

Minister of Health Riina Sikkut (SDE) said making the system more generous was discussed during coalition negotiations but no decision was reached. SDE pushed for the extension of the measure last year.

Riina Sikkut. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

One of the justifications for rolling back the measure is that people may start to take advantage, she said, but data does not support this arguement.

"As it was in force for more than two years in total, the Health Insurance Fund analyzed the dynamics of sickness absence and changes in it /.../ if the proportion of sickness absence had increased and if the number of people who stayed at home because of it had increased significantly. But, actually, the answer is no," said Sikkut.

The minister said new changes are being made to long-term sick leave.

"If there are long-term sick leaves, and 40 percent of those who are on sick leave do not return to work, perhaps earlier intervention and support and retention in work would allow them to continue working after a long-term illness," Sikkut said.

Irja Lutsar. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Eesti 200 MP Professor Irja Lutsar told AK the subject needs wider discussions as many people cannot afford to take sick leave and lose three days' pay.

The opposition Center Party has already sent a draft sickness benefit bill to the Riigikogu.

"This discussion will take place, this draft will also be discussed in the Social Affairs Committee. Then all the details will have to be looked at, and then decisions will be made," said Lutsar.

The measure has cost almost €15 million this year.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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