European Foundation
for the Improvement of
Living and Working Conditions

The tripartite EU agency providing knowledge to assist
in the development of better social, employment and
work-related policies

EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

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

Sick leave amendments

Muudatused haiguspäevade osas

Country Estonia , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 13 March 2020 – 31 December 2022
Context COVID-19
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
Measure added 08 April 2020 (updated 11 March 2022)

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 coronavirus, 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.

08 December 2021

The due date of the compensation of sick leave days as of the second days was extended to 31 December 2022.

01 September 2021

National changes that allow compensation of sick leave as of the second day will end on 31 December 2021. The capital Tallinn established new sick leave compensation for the first sick leave day for Tallinn residents for the period 1 September 2021 - 31 May 2022. The conditions will remain the same as they were in Spring 2021.

01 June 2021

The additional sick leave compensation by Tallinn was paid for the period 25 March - 31 May 2021.

25 March 2021

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, announced that for Tallinn residents additional sick leave compensation will be paid for those whose sick leave starts as of 25 March 2021. The compensation is paid for only Tallinn residents for the first day of the leave in the amount of €30. The compensation is paid at least until the end of April 2021, but longer if needed. The expected cost is €750,000 per month.

10 March 2021

The Government approved the changes to the law that would allow to extend the compensation of sick leave as of the second day of the leave until the end of 2021. €12 million is needed for this, the costs are shared equally between the Government and the EHIF.

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)
  • 10 March 2021: Esimeste haiguspäevade hüvitamise pikendus (Extension of the measure) (valitsus.ee)
  • 24 March 2021: Tallinna esimese haiguspäeva hüvitis (The compensation of the first day of the sick leave in Tallinn) (www.tallinn.ee)
  • 01 September 2021: Esimese haiguspäeva toetus (First day sickness allowance) (www.tallinn.ee)
  • 08 December 2021: Töötervishoiu ja tööohutuse seaduse muudatus (Changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act) (www.riigiteataja.ee)

Citation

Eurofound (2020), Sick leave amendments, measure EE-2020-11/375 (measures in Estonia), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/EE-2020-11_375.html

Eurofound publications based on EU PolicyWatch

19 May 2022

 

Working life in the COVID-19 pandemic 2021

This publication consists of individual country reports on working life during 2021 for 28 countries (the 27 EU Member States and Norway).

Publication

24 June 2020

 

COVID-19: Policy responses across Europe

This report aims to present an overview of both large-scale government measures and collective agreements that impact on large groups of workers.

16 June 2022

 

COVID-19 in the workplace: Employer's responsibility to ensure a safe workplace

Throughout 2021, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, specific occupational health and safety rules were reintroduced due to increases in infection rates.

Article

16 June 2022

 

Back to work after COVID-19: Testing, vaccines and green certificates

In the second pandemic year 2021, access to one's place of work was increasingly dependent on providing proof of either having been tested, vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 in several countries.

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