Illness and leave from work
You have as a rule the right to salary while you are sick, but you yourself have a number of obligations to your employer.
If you become sick, you should alert your employer as quickly as possible. When you report that you are sick, you should follow your workplace’s rules for sick notice—they will often be stated in your contract or your workplace’s personnel handbook. If you follow your workplace’s rules, you have the right to full salary while you are absent from work due to illness.
If you don’t show up to work without reporting that you sick, your employer has the right to terminate you without warning.
Your employer has the right to ask for documentation for your sick notice.
If you do not receive salary while sick, or you have become sick while being unemployed, you have the right to sick leave unemployment benefits. Contact your municipality or your unemployment fund (a-kasse) about sick leave unemployment benefits.
You are not required to stay updated at work either by e-mail or phone while you are sick. You are also not obligated to solve tasks or answer any kind of inquiry.
On the other hand, you are required to answer questions or inform your employer, if you have certain information that no one else at the workplace has access to. For example, this can be agreements or appointments you have made that must be taken over by a colleague, or passwords that you have on your computer that your employer asks for.
Contact with the workplace
Contact between the sick employee and the workplace varies greatly from workplace to workplace. Some managers call and send text messages. Others follow a consistent policy at the workplace. There are also those who do not contact the sick employee at all.
You can see which guidelines there are at your workplace for handling sick days. It typically will be laid out in the personnel handbook or in a sick leave policy which has been accepted by the cooperation committee.
Generally, it is best to be in dialogue with your employer during your sick period. The employer has a legitimate interest in knowing when you can be expected back, as well as if the workplace can do anything to facilitate the process.
If you as the sick employee need to not have contact with the workplace for a shorter period of time, you can cancel sick leave meetings or ask not to be called or texted. It should always be for health reasons.
The more formal the inquiry is, the harder it usually is to cancel. Always contact DM first at 38 15 66 00 or firstname.lastname@example.org, before you deny contact with your employer. It is best with a concrete evaluation of your situation.
Partial sick leave
Partial sick leave means that you go to work for an agreed number of hours, and the rest of the time you are on sick leave.
Partial sick leave can be relevant in two situations: if you wish to avoid a full-time sick leave, or if you have been on sick leave for a longer period and wish to resume work on a reduced basis. By resuming work on a reduced number of hours, you can often get back to work earlier than if you are working full-time.
You need to agree upon a partial sick-leave with your employer (potentially in connection with filling out a declaration of work capacity). You can agree to a much reduced number of working hours, for example four hours a week, or not as reduced, for example 25 hours a week. It depends on your situation.
It is important that the amount of responsibilities suits the new working hours you agree upon, and that there is respect for the agreement from both your manager, yourself, and your colleagues, so the agreed-upon working hours are maintained. You should consistently be in dialogue with your manager about the increase of working hours.
Documentation for illness
When you are absent due to illness, your employer has the right to ask for documentation for your sick leave. You are not required to give the reason for your illness or diagnosis. DM’s experience is that an employee should not give the reason for their sick leave before they are ready to discuss the leave with their boss. For example, in the case of stress, one should be ready to discuss the responsibility of the workplace.
There are different kinds of documentation for illness, and they have different deadlines.
Declaration of work capacity
Your employer can request that the two of you work out a declaration of work capacity. The declaration can be filled out at any point during your illness, but your employer can ask for it at the earliest on the fourth sick day. As an employee, you are obliged to participate in working on the declaration. If you do not have the ability to participate because of your sickness, you should work on it over the phone.
The declaration is made up of two parts with a description of the illness’s effect on your working capacity and suggestions to changes in your work tasks. The first part should be filled out by you and your employer together. Your doctor, in consultation with you, should fill out the second part with his or her evaluation of you and your employer’s description, as well as the state of your health.
Your employer should pay for the declaration.
Your employer can request a doctor’s certificate as documentation for your sick leave. The certificate is a doctor’s documentation that you are sick and cannot work. It is your doctor who should fill out the certificate and your employer who should pay for it.
Declaration of duration
Once you have been sick for 14 days, your employer can ask for information from your doctor relating to the length of the sickness. It is your employer that must pay for this declaration.
Note that the rules on declarations of duration apply only to functionary (salaried) employees. Your status as a functionary is decided by the type of work you do. The majority of DM members are functionary/salaried employees.
Sick leave meeting
If you are sick for a longer period of time, your employer should call you in for a sick leave meeting within four weeks of your first sick day. This is stated in the rules on sick leave unemployment benefit reimbursement. It is however DM’s experience, that it is far from all employers who live up to this obligation.
At the meeting, the two of you should discuss the possibility for you to completely or partially return to work. You should among other things discuss how long you expect the sick leave will last, the possibility to return to work (potentially part-time), and amended work tasks.
You can also refuse to participate, if your health does not allow it.
The sick leave meeting can also be used to fill out the declaration of work capacity. If that is the case, you are obliged to participate in the conversation.
Termination in connection to illness
You can be terminated while you are on sick leave.
In some employment contracts there is a 120-day rule written in. If the 120-day rule is included in your contract, then you can be terminated with one month’s notice, once you have been sick for 120 days out of 12 months. The 12 months do not need to follow the calendar year, but can be calculated from any date. The termination should fall in connection with the 120 days.
If you are publicly employed, or the 120-day rule is not stated in your contract, you can be terminated with the normal rules for notice. This happens typically if it is very uncertain when you will be able to resume work, and if your absence is a nuisance for the workplace.
With routine doctor’s and dentist’s appointments, you should attempt to have the appointments outside of working hours. If that is not possible, you have the right to take off. Your employer can either choose to reduce your pay or accept the doctor’s visit as working hours.
With long-term or chronic illnesses which demand a treatment or rehabilitation program, doctor’s visits or rehabilitation appointments fall within the rules on illness, and you have the right to absence from work with pay. You should, however, attempt to make these appointments at times where it is the least inconvenient for your workplace.
Holidays and illness
If you get sick, you are legally prevented from taking holidays and have the right to delay the holiday time you would have used. This holiday time is your replacement holiday. But the amount of replacement holiday you have the right to is dependent on if you become sick before or during your holidays.
Long-term or chronic illness
If you suffer from a long-term or chronic illness that leads to more routine absences from your work, you and your employer have the ability to make what is called a § 56-agreement. This agreement gives your employer the ability to, already from your first sick day, get a reimbursement equal to sick leave unemployment benefits as compensation for your absence.
During your absence you recieve full salary.
The reimbursement applies only to absences caused by the illness or condition that has been agreed upon, and your doctor must confirm that the condition leads to an absence from work.
You and your employer make the agreement for two years at a time, and it should be approved by the job centre. If you make use of the agreement for at least ten sick days a year, it is automatically extended.
If you have been sick for more than 30 days, your employer will request a sick leave unemployment benefit reimbursement from the municipality you reside in.
Your municipality’s job centre will call you to a meeting in the period where your employer receives the reimbursement. You are required to participate in the meetings.
The goal of the meetings is to help you get back to work—potentially on different conditions. Some municipalities have offers for citizens on sick leave, for example courses on stress or exercise offers.