We receive many questions from both employers and employees about the right to self-report / sick leave and sickness benefits, as well as care leave in case of child illness in connection with absence due to coronavirus.
Based on the rules as they are today, we have responded to the questions we have received in light of the changes that are in effect as of March 16, 2020, but we have to take into consideration that the situations is not yet clear and changes may come rapidly as the situation is developing.
As a summary; here are the main changes:
- Employers can accept self-report for the entire current employer period of 16 days
- If children or caretaker are sick, parents have a double quota ie 20 days per parent and 30 days per parent if you have 3 children or more under 12 years.
- NAV reimburses care allowances to the employer for care allowances beyond 3 days per year.
- It is possible to transfer days between the parents if one works in a socially critical function. That way, one parent can then have 40 days of care allowances.
- Parents are entitled to care allowance when school or kindergarten is closed due to the corona epidemic.
- The count of days starts from Friday 13 March 2020 and ends 2020.
- Freelancers and self-employed persons are entitled to the same number of days and 100% salary compensation in the same way as employees, but there is a 3 day waiting period.
- The period of “Arbeidsavklaringspenger” is extended and cannot be shortened if the working situation for the employee is not clarified by 3 years.
In the following we will describe the new situation in more details.
1. People infected with coronavirus who must be kept isolated
In case of confirmed corona virus infection, the employee must have been in contact with a doctor and have received confirmed infection. It is important that the employee receives sick leave from a doctor as infection will normally result in an absence beyond the self-report period. In such case the employee is ill and incapacitated and are thus entitled to sick leave.
The employer's period for payment of sickness benefits linked to the corona pandemic is today reduced to 3 days. This will take effect as soon as the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (“NAV”) has a technical solution in place. If the employee has an agreement with its employer for full payment during sick leave, the employer must also pay full salary beyond 3 days, but will be reimbursed up to 6G from NAV.
2. Persons who may be infected and must be kept in isolation for 14 days
Employees who must be kept isolated because they pose a risk as a source of infection will be entitled to sick leave and sickness benefits. There is no evidence that you are actually infected but you represent a risk of being infected or to infect others. It will be up to the doctor who issues sick leave to make a sound medical assessment. The authorities have urged employers to accept self-notification during the employer period in connection with the corona-virus situation.
3. Home quarantine / isolation - sick leave requirement to receive sickness benefits
Persons who are encouraged to be in the home quarantine must consult a doctor to obtain a sick leave. If you choose to isolate yourself at home on your own initiative, you are not entitled to sickness benefits.
During the pandemic, NAV now accepts that doctors print sick leave without the patients having been to the doctor's office. Sick leave without personal examination of the patient can be accepted in cases where the patient has, or is believed to have, an infectious disease (corona). The doctor who consults the patient must, based on a professional judgment, consider how the examination should be conducted.
This is an exception to the main rule that sick leave requires personal examination. The authorities have urged employers to accept self-notification during the employer period in order not to occupy the doctors unnecessarily.
4. The employer’s period of payment
The employer's period for payment of sickness benefits linked to the corona pandemic has been reduced to 3 days (instead of 16 days). This will take effect as soon as NAV has a technical solution in place. The employer period will thereby be reduced from 16 to 3 calendar days.
5. Persons staying abroad
Persons who have been in contact with a doctor and have been diagnosed with coronavirus infection abroad may be entitled to sickness benefits. They should then contact their doctor in Norway for documentation and possibly get sick leave.
People who are traveling abroad with suspected coronavirus infection may be entitled to sickness benefits if they have had a dialogue with a doctor, for example by telephone, and the doctor has considered it likely that the symptoms stated may be coronaviruses.
If you are staying in an EEA country, you do not need to apply to keep sick leave during your stay abroad.
Persons outside the EEA must submit an application to keep sick leave during their stay abroad.
6. Care leave when kindergarten / school are closed
Parents who have to stay at home with children because kindergarten or school are closed due to coronavirus are entitled to care leave in accordance with Chapter 9 of the National Insurance Act (“Folketrygdloven”).
This is considered in the same way that the caretaker of the child is ill and parent who must be at home with children will be entitled to care allowances. This applies to the year the child turns 12 (if there is no chronically illness).
The care leave has been doubled from 10 days per parent to 20 days per parent per calendar year. This will probably also mean doubling the quota for those who have 3 children or more under 12 years to 15 days per parent and to 40 days for those who are single caretaker.
The employer's period for the payment of care allowance has been reduced to 3 days (from 10 days per calendar year). The employer can then apply for reimbursement from NAV for all days beyond 3 days per employee per calendar year.
As usual, it is still only necessary supervision that gives the right to care leave. This means that it is not necessary for both parents to be home at the same time.
The government has put forward a bill that gives the ministry the authority to issue regulations that extend the National Insurance liability for payment and to extend the period.
7. Care allowances for self-employed persons
It is agreed to introduce a scheme for care allowances from the 4th day and the same degree of coverage as for sickness benefit for self-employed persons.
8. New support for self-employed and freelancers
It has been agreed to introduce a temporary scheme for self-employed and freelancers who now lose all or part of the income base as a result of the corona epidemic. A coverage ratio of 80% of the average of the last three years' income limited up to 6G. The compensation is covered from the 17th day after the loss of income.
9. Sickness benefits when you are not allowed to return from abroad
NAV will accept payment of sickness benefits for sick leave for the employees who cannot be returned from abroad, even if staying outside the EEA.
10. Self-report and coronavirus
The authorities are now urging employers to accept self-notification during the employer period so that they do not have to occupy their doctor or emergency room. This will not extend the employer's term. In practice, this means that employers can accept self-report for the entire current employer period of 16 days, with the assurance that NAV will not refuse to reimburse sickness benefit because the employee used self-report rather than a medical certificate.
11. Sickness benefits on layoffs
An employee who becomes sick during the layoff notice period, ie after a legal layoff notice has been issued, but before layoff is implemented, will be entitled to sickness benefits as usual during the notice period. When the layoff comes into effect, the employer ceases to pay sickness benefits and the employee receives sickness benefits directly from NAV.
The employee will retain 100 % sickness benefits up to 6G if the employee is sick during the entire layoff period. The sickness benefit will not be reduced to the unemployment benefit rate.
If an employee is laid off and becomes sick during the layoff period has come into force, the employee will receive sickness benefits at the same rate as unemployment benefit during unemployment.
12. Abuse of the sickness scheme
If the employer suspects that an employee has received sick leave or uses self-report for no legal reason, the employer has the opportunity to refuse to pay sickness benefits during the employer period. We then recommend that the employer notify NAV of why sickness benefits has not been paid. Please contact one of our attorneys before making this decision.
This also applies in relation to the care allowance in the case of child / child care sickness.
In this context, it is also important to remember that we are in an international pandemic situation and that one must take into account that we have a shared responsibility to prevent the spread of infection.
13. Labour consequences in violation of national recommendations or internal orders from the employer.
Both breach of recommendations and orders from the health authorities and internal orders from the employer may have consequences for the employment. Such violations that result in exposing colleagues to a risk of infection could lead to labour law consequences such as termination, dismissal or suspension.
It will depend on the severity of the situation and the breach how severe the reaction will be. It is important to contact a lawyer before taking such steps. This will also apply to managers who, for example, require employees to break health authorities' recommendations to maintain production.
The lawyers in Magnus Legal are prepared to assist.
Feel free to contact us at any time.
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