What is sick leave?
Relocating to a new country presents a myriad of opportunities and challenges, and one crucial aspect of adapting to life in Finland is understanding the sick leave system. Whether you’re an expat worker or a parent, falling ill is an inevitable part of life.
Finland takes the well-being of its residents seriously, and the sick leave system reflects this commitment. Sick leave ensures that employees can recover properly without worrying about job security.
- Eligibility for Sick Leave: Employees are entitled to sick leave when they are unable to work due to illness or injury. Sickness allowance is paid to those between the ages of 16 and 67. The criteria typically involve providing a medical certificate to verify the illness. Expats who are employees in Finland, including those with a temporary residence permit, have the same rights as Finnish nationals regarding sick leave.
- Duration and Salary Coverage: The duration of sick leave is divided into two phases: the waiting period and the actual sick leave period. The entitlement to sickness allowance commences nine working days after the illness begins (not counting the day of onset). The employer generally pays the employee’s wages during this waiting period. During the sick leave period, employees are eligible to receive sick pay, which is generally a percentage of their regular salary. The percentage and duration of sick pay coverage may vary depending on the employment contract and collective labor agreements. Kela will pay sickness allowance for a maximum of one year (300 working days). If you receive pay during the period of illness, Kela will pay the compensation to your employer.
- Child’s Illness and Sick Leave: Finnish parental rights and benefits extend to expat parents as well. If your child falls ill, you are entitled to take sick leave to care for them. In some cases, this might even include paid time off. However, it’s essential to communicate with your employer and follow the proper procedure to notify them about the situation.
Opening sick leave in Finland
You can open a sick leave on the same day as you contact your local clinic. Your primary medical service provider is the one that can assign you a certification for sick leave. It is ultimately decided based on your health conditions, whether or not you should stay at home.
However, expats might encounter certain challenges when navigating the process:
- Weekends and Holidays: Falling ill during weekends or holidays can be a headache, as traditional healthcare services may not be readily available. Expats might find it frustrating to have to wait until the next business day to consult a doctor.
- Communication Barriers: Not being fluent in Finnish can make it challenging to communicate effectively with healthcare professionals. Language barriers could lead to misunderstandings and potentially affect the quality of care.
- Additional Fees: Some healthcare services might charge extra fees for issuing sick leave certificates or for appointments outside regular hours, adding unexpected financial stress during an already trying time.
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Stay healthy, stay supported
Life can throw unexpected challenges, even a simple cold can disrupt our routine negatively. Having the option to open sick leave provides a valuable safety net in emergencies or illnesses. Understanding your rights and options is essential, and finding a trustworthy healthcare provider who can provide detailed information and assistance is crucial. Whether you choose to open sick leave online, over the phone, or in-person, opt for the option that works best for you and your needs.
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