Extended sick leave aims to cut it

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The Norwegian government, national employers’ organization NHO and major national labour federations have agreed to extend employees’ rights to call in sick, but don’t fear the system will be abused. Rather, enhanced confidence in employees aims to keep them healthier, and reduce the work load on physicians.

Workers earlier have been able to call in sick for a maximum of three days before a doctor’s certification is needed to maintain full pay. A new agreement that’s part of a national effort to create more inclusive work situations will increase that to eight days with a maximum of 24 days in a calendar year, with all private companies urged to take part.

Neither the state, NHO nor Norway’s largest labour confederaton LO think sick leave will rise. Labour organizations were relieved the employers went along with the reform, even as many small- and medium-sized companies objected to potentially higher costs. The state, however, has programs to reimburse employers for the cost of having workers out sick.

Kari Sollien of the labour federation Akademikernes said she thinks it’s been a waste of resources to require employees to go to their state-funded doctor to obtain certification of illness after three days. “Doctors’ offices can now be full of people who only need confirmation of the flu, for example, when no treatment can be offered apart from staying home in bed,” Sollien, a doctor herself, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “Now the doctors can have more time to take care of patients who can get treatment for their illness.”

newsinenglish.no staff