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Factsheet for case EE-2020-11/375 Updated – measures in Estonia

Sick leave amendments

Muudatused haiguspäevade osas

Country Estonia , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 13 March 2020 – 30 April 2021
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Income protection beyond short-time work
– Paid sick leave
Author Ingel Kadarik (Praxis Center for Policy Studies) and Eurofound
Case created 08 April 2020 (updated 06 January 2021)

Background information

Currently, the first three days of sick leave are not compensated to employees. The days 4-8 are paid by the employer, and as of day 9 by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF). Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, people are especially advised to stay on sick leave when any sickness symptoms should occur, some people were forced to stay in quarantine. The loss of wage and no sickness benefit for the first three days make the situation very difficult for some people.

Content of measure

The usual practice is that the first three days of sick leave are not compensated to employees. In Spring 2020, the EHIF compensated those days to all employees irrespective of the reason of the sick leave (i.e. in addition to corona virus, the person can have other disease or injury in order to receive compensation). As usual, the days 4-8 were compensated by the employer, and then continued by the EHIF. The measure was valid retroactively as of 13 March (the beginning of the emergency situation in Estonia) until the end of the emergency situation (18 May). Those, who have used sick leave and whose first three days were not compensated, receive the compensation retroactively.

Due to an emergency situation an additional measure was introduced, which allowed worker temporarily to apply on-line for a sick leave by his- or herself. The case may be opened by a person who is ill, has a child who is ill, needs care for a close family member, or has been exposed to COVID-19. This measure ended on 18 May.

Updates

The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

04 January 2021

On 9 December 2020, the parliament approved changes in law according to which instead of three days, only the first day of sick leave will remain uncompensated. The employer will compensate the days 2-5 (four days, instead of the usual 5 days), and as of 6th day, the EHIF compensates the leave. It is a temporary measure and is valid in case of sick leaves from 1 January until 30 April 2021. The provisional additional budget for this is €5 million, of which half is covered from the EHIF budget and half from the government's reserve.

Use of measure

It was planned to allocate €7.1 million for compensating the first three sick leave days. The budget was almost entirely used (€65 thousand was left unused).

25,000 sick leave cases were opened via online registration, which is 19% of all leave cases (134,000) during the emergency situation. Altogether, there were 47,000 more leave cases compared to the same period in 2018 and 2019.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Social insurance
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted Consulted
Form Direct consultation outside a formal body Direct consultation outside a formal body

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown

Involvement

There were discussions with the government and stakeholders (including peak-level social partners) prior to the decision and thus the involvement was satisfactory for all the parties.

Views and reactions

The social partners were supportive of the measure, as it helped the employees during difficult circumstances and encouraged them to stay on sick leave and not to spread illness.

Sources

  • 27 March 2020: Haigekassa hakkab eriolukorras tasuma esimeste haiguspäevade eest (www.haigekassa.ee)
  • 15 December 2020: Temporary changes in sick leave compensation (Haiguspäevade hüvitamise ajutised muutused) (www.employers.ee)
  • 31 December 2020: COVID-19 final report (COVID-19 lõpparuanne) (www.haigekassa.ee)

Citation

Eurofound (2020), Sick leave amendments, case EE-2020-11/375 (measures in Estonia), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.