Effective sickness absence monitoring always encompasses the perspective of promoting working ability. An atmosphere of trust between the employer and employees ensures that no one feels or is made feel guilty. Sickness absence monitoring is also a part of occupational safety and health cooperation.
The following question-answer pairs are intended to help solve and prevent problems related to sickness absences and work ability issues. It is also advisable to consult the collective agreement for possible specifications regarding sickness absences.
Sickness absences must always be reported in accordance with the collective agreement and the workplace’s procedures. Kela requires a medical certificate after the waiting period for sickness allowance (1+9 days).
All employees must be treated equally, but, for a justified reason, the employer has the right to deviate from the standard practice in a specific case.
According to the Employment Contracts Act, the employer must pay sick pay for the waiting period for sickness allowance, which is the first day of illness and the following nine weekdays. Collective agreements often specify longer sick pay periods, usually from one to three months, depending on the duration of the employment relationship. For sickness absences exceeding the waiting period, Kela will pay sickness allowance for up to a maximum of 300 weekdays.
Time spent ill during annual holiday is compensated in full, but only for the days following the so-called waiting days. The number of waiting days varies between zero and six, depending on the employee’s accrued holiday entitlement. For an employee who has accrued the maximum of 30 days of holiday, the first six days of holiday are waiting days. Waiting days may not reduce the employee’s entitlement to a four-week annual holiday. Upon request, an employee who has fallen ill must present a reliable report of their incapacity for work, in which case the employer must, at the employee’s request, postpone the days of holiday following the waiting days to a later date. The employer will decide on the time of the postponed holiday after consulting the employee. An employee has the right to postpone their annual holiday without waiting days if they are incapacitated for work at the beginning of their annual holiday or part of it.
Yes, if you are feeling well enough. An employee may be unable to perform their own tasks and yet maintain capacity for other activities. It is essential to refrain from actions that might prolong recovery or compromise the healing of the illness.
Yes. However, this should be agreed with the employer. An employee can assess their own health, but the employer is also obligated to assess whether the employee can return to work safely. If necessary, a health care professional’s assessment of the situation can be requested. The duration of sickness absence recommended by a doctor is not binding.
Working remotely while ill is only possible in situations in which the illness does not worsen or recovery is not slowed down due to working. If necessary, it is advisable to ask for the opinion of a health care professional. If a remote worker’s work ability does not meet the requirements of their work, they are entitled to sickness absence.
The supervisor is not allowed to tell others about an employee’s illness, but they can tell about the absence. The supervisor, HR and the payroll officer need to know about the sickness absence, but they must treat the information as confidential. The supervisor can agree with the absent employee on what, how and with whom information about the illness or its duration is shared.
In order to receive sick pay, it is generally necessary to provide information about the diagnosis. The employer may refuse to pay sick pay for an employee who does not submit a certificate indicating the reason for their incapacity for work. Diagnoses are sensitive information. The persons authorised to process this information must be specifically designated. They must treat the information as confidential.
A serious crisis can weaken an employee’s work ability and may cause them to fall ill. A doctor will assess the employee’s work ability and, on the basis of this, the need for absence. Whether the absence is paid or not is determined in the same way as in the case of other absences.
If an illness significantly weakens an employee’s work ability over a long period of time, the employer may have grounds for dismissal. This requires a doctor’s assessment of the possibilities for rehabilitation. Generally, incapacity for work lasting about a year and an assessment of the permanence of the condition have been taken to indicate that an employee is no longer able return to their former job. Before terminating their employment, the employer must explore the possibility of avoiding it by adjusting the employee’s tasks or working conditions to match their work ability or by offering them alternative work that is suitable for their work ability.
An employee may not, without a justified reason, refuse to attend a health check where assessing the employee’s health is necessary based on a special risk of illness caused by the work or the working environment, or where assessing the employee’s work ability or functional capacity is necessary based on the health requirements of the work. Mandatory health checks have been laid down in the law primarily to protect employees’ health. Several laws contain provisions on minimum health requirements and health checks resulting from work-related requirements.
The employer is responsible for monitoring employees’ ability to cope at work and for discussing with them any changes in their work ability before referring them to a work ability assessment (early support discussion). If an employee’s work ability is affected by health issues, they cannot refuse the work ability assessment. However, it is important that the measures related to the assessment and support are carried out in agreement with the employee.
An employee cannot refuse an occupational health negotiation that is in line with the early support procedure for work ability agreed on at the workplace and considered essential for the work ability assessment and the planning of the necessary support measures by an occupational health care professional. The occupational health negotiation must also be carried out in agreement with the employee. At the request of the employee, a shop steward, an occupational safety and health representative or other support person may attend the negotiation.
- Eija Kemppainen The Finnish Union of Practical Nurses SuPer
- Janne Kiiskinen The Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa
- Erika Kähärä Service Union United PAM
- Tanja Lehtoranta Trade Union Pro
- Kirsi Mäkinen Pharmacy Employers Association
- Päivi Rauramo The Centre for Occupational Safety
- Auli Rytivaara The Confederation of Finnish Industries EK
- Riitta Työläjärvi The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK
- Merja Vihersalo Service Union United PAM