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01 April 2020
On 17 March 2020 a bill amending the Sickness Benefits Act was enacted to mitigate the economic consequences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for employers and self-employed persons. The bill extends the scope of employers' right to reimbursement of sickness benefits and self-employed persons' right to receive sickness benefits, provided that the sickness absence is caused by COVID-19.
With sickness absences, there is usually a 30-day period during which employees who do not receive their full pay can receive sickness benefits from their employer. Likewise, if an employer pays an employee's full salary during their sickness absence, the employer will not be entitled to reimbursement of sickness benefits for the employee's first 30 sick days. Self-employed persons are not normally entitled to receive sickness benefits for the first two weeks of a sickness absence.
The bill extends the scope of the right to receive and be reimbursed for sickness benefits if:
In such situations, the bill provides a right to receive and be reimbursed for sickness benefits from the first day of the sickness absence, provided that the other general conditions in the Sickness Benefits Act for receiving and being reimbursed for sickness benefits are met.
Based on a recent announcement from the health authorities that individuals who show symptoms of COVID-19 will not automatically be tested, it appears from the explanatory remarks to the bill that documentation of the reason for a sickness absence will be provided by the sick individual sending a written statement that they have a realistic presumption of being infected with COVID-19.
This also means that the general rule that employers are prohibited from asking employees questions concerning the reason for their sickness absence will be disregarded, as the processing of information on COVID-19 is necessary for the employer to be able to apply for the reimbursement of sickness benefits. Similarly, the local authorities may process the information in connection with the processing of applications for reimbursement.
As regards individuals who are not infected with COVID-19 but have nevertheless been absent from work, in order to receive sickness benefits, their absence must have been caused by them belonging to one of the groups that the health authorities have instructed to isolate at home due to COVID-19. This may be due to travel to certain areas in relation to which the authorities have issued instructions regarding isolation at home or if the individual was at a certain place at a certain time.
Individuals who are able to work from home during quarantine will not receive sickness benefits. Similarly, employees will not be entitled to receive sickness benefits where:
The amendments to the act will apply to absences from 27 February 2020 and will automatically be repealed as of 1 January 2021.
For further information on this topic please contact Elsebeth Aaes-Jørgensen at Norrbom Vinding by telephone (+43 35 25 3940) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Norrbom Vinding website can be accessed at norrbomvinding.com.
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