Changes in rules on absenteeism and reintegration
Various changes in the rules on employee absenteeism and reintegration will take effect on 1 July 2023. Firstly, the period for paying the salaries of people receiving a state pension and who become ill is changing. On top of that, the action plan that the employer and employee draw up, and also their first-year review, will have to include details of the plans for reintegrating the employee into the workforce.
Period for continuing to pay salaries reduced to 6 weeks
From 1 July this year, the period during which employers have to continue paying the salaries of people receiving a state pension and who become ill is being reduced from 13 to 6 weeks.
The change applies only to employees receiving a state pension and who become ill on or after 1 July 2023. The 13-week period will continue to apply to older employees who were already ill before then.
The change in the legislation applies only to employees receiving a state pension and is intended to make it more attractive to employ people wanting to work beyond the state retirement age. In all other cases, employers have to continue paying sick employees’ salaries for 104 weeks.
There is no change in the requirement for both the employer and the employee to work towards reintegration. That means employers have to actively investigate whether reintegration within the organisation is possible or whether they need to take action to help the employee find other, more suitable work. In turn, an employee receiving a state pension and who becomes ill has to actively work towards reintegration.
How the employer and employee view reintegration
From 1 July 2023, employers and employees have to include details of how they view reintegration in their plans for reintegrating the employee into the workforce. And also when they review the position after a year.
Under the Eligibility for Permanent Incapacity Benefit (Restrictions) Act, the employer and employee are jointly responsible for helping the employee achieve a lasting return to work. This starts in the very first week of illness and is intended to keep the period of absenteeism as short as possible.
One of the requirements is to draw up an action plan within eight weeks after the employee reports sick or within two weeks after the problem has been analysed. This plan must outline what each party is going to do to help the employee return to work. If the employee remains ill, the position has to be reviewed between weeks 46 and 52. This review must include agreements for the next year.
Long and short term
The extra requirement that the new rule adds to the action plan and the first-year review means that both the employer and the employee have to record how they view reintegration. This view should consider both the short and long term and can be adjusted, if necessary. The new rule is intended to achieve greater commitment from both sides and to increase the chances of successful reintegration.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has admitted that failure to include the parties’ views on reintegration will not immediately result in employers having to continue paying an employee’s salary for longer.