- Pay during illness
An employee’s right to a pay during illness is prescribed in the Employment Contracts Act. According to the law, employees who are prevented from performing their work by an illness or accident are entitled to a pay during illness. The employer’s obligation to pay salary applies to disability to work due to an illness, occupational accident or leisure time accident.
Employees are not entitled to pay during illness if they have caused the said disability wilfully or by gross negligence. Such a situation may be e.g. getting into a fight due to own initiative.
According to the law, pay during illness shall be paid up to the end of the ninth day following the date of falling ill (if it had been a working day). If the employment relationship has lasted for a minimum of one month, the employee is entitled to full pay for the said period. In employment relationships that have continued for less than one month employees are correspondingly entitled to 50 per cent of their pay.
The aforementioned provisions of the Employment Contracts Act shall be complied with, unless it is otherwise agreed by the collective agreement, employment contract or in the internal practice of the workplace.
- Amount of pay during illness
According to the Employment Contracts Act, employees are entitled to full pay during illness. The basis for pay shall be the pay agreed on in the employment contract, unless the employee is covered by a collective agreement. In some collective agreements it is required that the employment relationship last for a certain time before the employee is entitled to pay during illness. Ordinarily that period is one month, but there are longer waiting periods, for example, in the municipal sector.
According to the Employment Contracts Act, the employee is entitled to full pay for the period of disability up to the end of the ninth day following the date of falling ill, but only up to the point at which the employee's right to national sickness allowance under the Sickness Insurance Act comes into effect. The right to pay during illness in accordance with collective agreements is usually considerably longer. The payment period has usually been scaled in accordance with the duration of the employment relationship. A common duration of the compensation period is 28–56 days. The employer pays for this extended period the difference between salary and the daily allowance. A common practice is that the employer pays a full salary for the compensation period and receives Kela’s sickness allowance for the same period.
If the same illness recurs within 30 days from the payment of the previous daily allowance, the employee is entitled to sickness allowance from the date following the day of falling ill. According to the law, the employer is then only obliged to pay salary during illness for the day of falling ill. Collective agreements often include a clause stating that in such cases the calculation of the pay period for the pay during illness shall continue from where it stopped during the previous illness. If the period between the recurring of the illness is more than 30 days or it is a different illness, the pay period for the pay during illness shall start from the beginning.
- Sickness allowance paid by Kela
The employer shall pay a salary for the deductible period of the sickness allowance pursuant to the Employment Contracts Act. The employer can pay a salary for a longer period during illness, e.g. based on a collective agreement of employment contract. If the pay during illness per day paid by the employer is smaller than the sickness allowance, the difference shall be paid to the employee.
When the employer is no longer obliged to pay salary for the period of illness, the employee shall apply for sickness allowance from Kela. Sickness allowance is paid to the employee for disability that lasts for less than a year. If the disability lasts for longer than a year, the employee may receive rehabilitation allowance or retire on disability pension.
If the employee’s illness has been caused by an accident, such as an occupational accident or traffic accident, he/she may be entitled to indemnity from an insurance company. If the handling of the insurance application is extended due to reasons not attributable to the customer, the employee can apply for sickness allowance from Kela. Then the sickness allowance will be paid to the employee, not the employer.
Further information on sickness allowance, its amount and applying for it can be found on Kela’s website (www.kela.fi).
- Notifying the employer
The Employment Contracts Act does not have a provision that obliges the employee to notify the employer about falling ill. The obligation to notify is based on the general obligations arising from the employment relationship, and in legal praxis it has been considered to be broad. Many collective agreements also include a provision that obliges the employees to notify the employer about falling ill without delay.
As a general rule the notification shall be made to the immediate supervisor. If an employee intentionally neglects the obligation to notify, the consequence may be that the obligation to pay salary will only start on the day the notification is made.
- Verifying the disability
According to the law, on request, employees shall present the employer with a reliable account of their disability. Collective agreements include provisions according to which the precondition for the payment of salary during illness is that the employee presents an account of their disability approved by the employer. The employer can also create its own practice applied to all employees on presenting an account of disability.
- Illness of a child
An employee is entitled to stay away from work for a maximum of four working days at a time in order to arrange care of an under 10 years old child or to care for him/her. One parent at a time is entitled to such temporary child care leave. The parents can divide the child care leave period between themselves as they choose.
An employee shall on request present a reliable account of the reason for temporary child care leave. According to the law, the employer is not obliged to pay salary for the temporary child care leave, but most collective agreements include a provision on the obligation to pay the salary for three or four days.