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Trade unions to companies: Compensate employees for all sick days

Chairman of the Estonian Trade Unions Confederation (EAKL), Peep Peterson.
Chairman of the Estonian Trade Unions Confederation (EAKL), Peep Peterson. Source: (ERR)

The Estonian Trade Unions Confederation published the names of 50 employers on May 1 that grant their employees paid sick leave on the second and third day, and stressed that all companies should invest in their employees’ health.

The trade unions held a family day in Tallinn’s Freedom Square on Monday, where their chairman, Peep Peterson, presented a list of 50 businesses that pay their employees’ second and third days away from work.

Employers are required to compensate employees for time off based on a medical certificate starting from the fourth and ending with the eighth day away from work. After that, the Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) takes over at 70 percent of the employee’s usual pay.

According to Peterson, it is the confederation’s aim to encourage as many businesses as possible to follow the example. “We have a list with 50 companies already who have done it. We would like to see at least 500, if not 5,000 on this list, so that all people or at least the majority could be part of this and actually stay at home when they are ill,” Peterson said.

He added that as the working population was ageing and shrinking, and as people would have to work more years, the working environment was important.

“We dearly need employers to look at their working environment—where stress is too high, where there are other things that might damage someone’s health. We need to take this seriously,” he added.

Peterson also thinks that employees should be more demanding when it comes to their working environment, and care for their own health more.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), who gave a speech at the unions’ family day, said that though the state could be of help, those who could do the most for people’s health were the people themselves.

“If a few years ago there was absolutely no discussion that if employers give employees the possibility to go swimming or join a gym, and take care of their health, then the state demanded that they pay fringe benefit tax, today the state says that if an employer invests in their employees’ health, then up to a point they shouldn’t have to pay fringe benefit tax. The state can certainly create a framework here,” Ratas said.

The list of companies and institutions that pay for the second and third sick day include the trade unions themselves, several municipal administrations, the University of Tartu and other schools, SEB and other financial and insurance companies, but also industrial businesses and companies in the construction sector.

Some of the companies, according to the trade unions, compensate their employees in full also instead of the common rate of 70 percent.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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