Sick leave

The Working Environment Act and the National Insurance Act impose activity obligations on employers and employees in relation to sick leave. Compliance with the rules may ensure that the employees get back to work quickly, and may give employers greater leeway to terminate the employment contract should it prove to be necessary.

There is a broad political consensus that everyone should be given the opportunity to function in the workplace. The Government and the employers’ and employees’ organizations have long sought to ensure that employees who are sick do not drop out of the labour market, through the agreement to cooperate for an inclusive workplace, among other things. Pursuant to the Working Environment Act, the employer shall implement necessary adaptations for employees who get their ability to work reduced due to sickness or injury. The employer shall, as far as possible, take appropriate measures to enable the employee to retain or obtain suitable work. The facilitation duty is extensive. At the same time, the employees have a duty to cooperate in finding ways to avoid an unnecessarily long absence due to sick leave. Together, the employer and the employee must create a plan for implementing measures in order to minimize the negative consequences of absence due to sickness as soon as possible and at the latest within four weeks. The planned measures must be revised within seven weeks at the latest. In order to be entitled to sickness benefits, the employee must attempt work related activities as soon as possible, as a rule at the latest within eight weeks. If work related activities are not started within eight weeks, an expanded medical certificate is required in order to document that the employee’s medical condition is an obstacle for such activities.

Far too many employers experience that the endeavor to avoid unnecessarily long absence due to sick leave “breaks down” before the work has begun, or that it does not bring any results.  Lack of compliance with the facilitation duty may be costly for business. It can increase costs, reduce revenue and other drawbacks, especially if the sick leave is long-lasting. Lack of compliance also restricts the employer’s possibility to lawfully terminate the employment contract through a dismissal, should the employee’s absence due to sickness be too lengthy and cause serious negative consequences for the employer, other employees and / or customers.

Our attorneys can advise you on how to be more successful in follow-up work.