The Parliament recently adopted a bill to amend the Sickness Benefits Act allowing employees who are at higher risk in case of infection with COVID-19 and employees with a relative in the higher risk group to receive sickness benefits. Similarly, the bill allows employers paying salary during such absence to receive sickness benefit reimbursement from the first day of absence.
The Parliament recently enacted the bill to amend the Sickness Benefits Act. The scheme covers absence in the period from 20 May 2020, which was the effective date of the bill, until 31 August 2020. The new rules will automatically be repealed on 1 January 2021.
The main elements of the measure introduced under the bill are as follows:
It is important to note that it is stressed in the explanatory statement to the bill that it is the Health Authority’s current assessment that the majority of employees in the higher risk group as well as employees with a relative at higher risk can undertake their usual work tasks if special precautions are taken, including observing particularly vigilant hygiene and social distancing as recommended for individuals at higher risk. Thus, employees will not be eligible for sickness benefits unless it is not possible to take such special precautions at the workplace, or if the precautions – according to a medical assessment – will not sufficiently protect the employee in question, and it is not possible to transfer the employee to other work tasks.
The Health Authority does, however, recommend that employees at higher risk as well as employees with a relative in the higher risk group who work in the health care, social or senior care sectors do not undertake work tasks involving close contact with individuals with suspicion of or confirmed infection with COVID-19. If it is not possible to transfer employees in this group to other work tasks, it will therefore be relevant to consider making an agreement on the right to absence which – insofar as the other conditions in this regard are met – makes the employee eligible for sickness benefits.
The content of the above is not, and should not be a substitute for legal advice.
Coronavirus – right to extended period of sickness benefits for employees at special risk from Covid-19
Political agreement has been reached on extension of the period of sickness benefits for employees who are either at higher risk of Covid-19 infection or are relatives of a person in the higher risk group.