Guide to handling absenteeism
Find information on how to report sick leave and when you can apply for reimbursement of sickness benefits.
Read more about Contact with the employee here
Read more about Sickness absence interview here
Read more about Medical declarations here
Read more about Report absence here
Read more about Reimbursement of sickness benefit here
It is important to have good contact with the ill employee and find out if there is something you, as employer, can do to help them return quickly to work.
The 1-5-14 model
The 1-5-14 model means the manager contacts the employee on the first day of illness and again after 5 days and once again after 14 days.The model sets out some guidelines for what it is suitable to discuss on each occasion.
- How is it going?
- What are your plans?
- Is there anything I can help with?
- Is there something on your mind?
- How long do you believe you will be ill?
- Get well soon!
- Manager helps with handling tasks that the employee cannot take on due to illness.
- Dialogue about how long employee expects to be ill.
- Manager follows up on employee's condition.
- Is there anything the manager can do to help?
- Dialogue about circumstances that could help the employee return to work?
- Manager contacts employee and clarifies the next stages in the process.
- Manager makes an assessment for how long the employee will remain on sick leave.
- The manager prepares the employee for being called to a sick leave interview following four weeks of illness.
You are obliged to hold a sickness absence interview with an employee who is absent at the latest 4 weeks after the first day of illness.
Basis for interview
The purpose of the interview is to discover when and how the employee can return to work and if there is a need to initiate municipal involvement.
The interview begins from the first moment you summon the employee.
Consider carefully, then, what medium is best – a letter or a telephone call.
It is important that the time needed is set aside and that the interview is conducted in an undisturbed space.
Consider the possible needs and requirements of the employee in advance, and prepare your response based on what you can offer the employee, for example, re-assignment or alternative tasks for a period of time.
Talk about work – not illness
It is illegal to ask the employee about their ailment or illness. If the employee volunteers this information, you need to remember that this is confidential.
You are permitted to ask when the employee can work again, and whether there are jobs he or she can perform, even though they may not be completely recovered yet.
The two of you should, during the interview, attempt to find solutions that can shorten the absence.
It is important to listen to the employee and not simply propose completed solutions.
See the possibilities
It can be difficult for the ill employee to discuss work.
He or she may be concerned about what you or colleagues think, and self-confidence may have suffered a blow.
It is therefore important that you present things positively and help to see the possibilities rather than problems.
You could perhaps encourage the employee to find out whether their insurance or pension scheme offer any assistance.
Documentation of illness
As an employer you can demand that the employee, within a reasonable deadline, documents that the absence is due to illness. This may occur via a written declaration of illness (solemn declaration) and/or a doctor's certificate at the earliest on the 4th day after absence.
If the solemn declaration is delivered too late, the right to sickness benefit lapses for you as employer from and including the day when you should have received the declaration until the day when you actually receive the declaration.
This does not apply however, if there are reasonable grounds for the employee's failure to keep the deadline.
The purpose is as documentation for illness as a legal basis for absence.
The certificate may only be drawn up under current absence and on the 4th day at the earliest.
You must pay for the certificate and the employee must obtain it from the doctor.
Regarding both interview and obtaining health information, you may not obtain information which does not have a significant relevance for the employee's work capacity.
Declaration of work capacity
A declaration of work capacity may be drawn up without a current absence due to illness.The purpose is job retention through a quick return to the workplace.
It focuses on what options the employee has to continue working during the illness.
It may be used if there is uncertainty about which work functions the employee can perform, or what considerations need to be made in order that the employee can resume working, part or full time.
The first part of the declaration is completed by you and the employee, after which the employee then consults their doctor who completes the second part.
The declaration can be obtained at any point during the course of the illness or in association with this.
As employer you must pay for the declaration.
If the employee is a salaried employee, you can still obtain a so-called duration declaration, according to the Salaried Employees Act § 5, para. 4.
You can request a duration declaration after 14 days of illness and determine whether the declaration must be issued by the employee's own doctor or a specialist of the employees choosing.
The employer must pay for the declaration
Sick leave must always be reported via NemRefusion at Virk.dk.
Salary during illness
If you continue paying employee salary during illness, you must report the employee's absence to the municipality at the latest 5 weeks after the first day of illness if the absence is prolonged over 30 days, employer period.
Sickness benefit during illness
If you only pay sickness benefit to the employee during illness, you must report the employee's absence to the municipality at the latest one week after you have stopped paying sickness benefit. This only applies in those cases where the absence exceeds the employer period (arbejdsgiverperiod).
Neither salary nor sickness benefit
If you do not pay either salary or sickness benefit to the employee during illness, all absence must be reported regardless of how long the employee is ill. You must report the employee's absence at the latest 14 days after the employee's first day of illness.
Employee's negotiated agreement
The employee's negotiated wage agreement (overenskomst) determines whether the employee will receive salary or sickness benefit – both during and following the employer period (arbejdsgiverperiod).
The employee cannot receive both.
Employer paid sickness benefit
Your obligation to pay sickness benefit is conditional on the employee having worked for you in the preceding 8 weeks and having worked at least 72 hours in that period. The 8 week requirement does not apply, however, if the employee has formerly been employed by you within the preceding 8 weeks before the period of illness and has worked 72 hours in total.
This may apply in the case of substitutes and temporary workers without a fixed agreement on working hours.
Sickness benefit from the municipality
If you do not pay sickness benefit or salary, or if the employee has been ill for longer than 30 days, the municipality can pay sickness benefit.
To be entitled to payment from the municipality the employee must fulfil one of the following employment conditions:
It is a condition that the employee either:
- Has been active in the labour market during the preceding 13 weeks before absence and has worked at least 120 hours in that period.
- Would have been entitled to jobless benefit (dagpenge) or other benefit in accordance with the Unemployment Insurance Act or the Vocational Training Act.
- Has concluded vocational training of at least 18 months duration within the last month.
- Is employed in a flex job.
- Is part of §56 scheme.
- If absence is due to a work injury.
Extraordinary early intervention
From the 1st of January 2015, both you and your employee have the option of sending a "fast track request" to the municipality before the illness absence has reached 5 weeks. Fast-Track can be implemented if there is an expectation that the employee cannot be ready to return to work within 8 weeks, or there is a general uncertainty whether the employee can return to the job at all.
Fast-Track allows the municipality to implement an extraordinary, accelerated and early intervention in relation to the absent employee.
The employee will be invited to a meeting with the municipality at the latest 2 weeks after the request and must of course be in agreement that an early intervention should be implemented. This is to be resolved between the employee and municipality.
The employee will be requested to consult their doctor to obtain an assessment of the employee's options for a return to work and any safeguard considerations.
An absent employee who does not expect to return to work within 8 weeks can request a retention plan, which is a plan for how the employee can retain their connection to the workplace.The plan gives you and the employee an opportunity to align expectations and provide reassurance regarding the employee's future in the workplace.
You are entitled to decline drawing up a retention plan.
There are a number of tools that can support an employee's retention at the workplace, for example:
- Mentor scheme
- Personal assistance
- Help aids
The municipality and Job Centre will decide if the employee is entitled for inclusion in these schemes.