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Sick leave and continued payment of wages: The employer continues to pay for six weeks – and then?

2023-06-10T10:12:23.641Z

Highlights: In Germany, the employer pays the full salary – for up to six weeks. After that, the sickness benefit takes effect. The employee must register with his health insurance company and apply for sickness benefit. The employer has the right to doubt a certificate – even if this is not easy. After continued payment of wages and sick pay, employees have the opportunity to return to work. This can take the form of part-time work or gradual reintegration. This article was created with the help of the company's state of health.



Being sick at work is annoying, but it can happen to anyone. In Germany, the employer pays the full salary – for up to six weeks. But what if the disease lasts longer?

Cases of illness are part of life and can affect anyone. This also includes employees. Fortunately, in Germany there is a system of continued payment of wages in the event of illness, which guarantees financial security during the first six weeks of illness. But what actually happens at the end of these six weeks? Will the payments stop altogether? We tell you what happens to employees in such a case.

Sick leave and continued payment of wages: Important things first

Before making any payments, it is the employee's turn: If he feels that he is too sick for work, he must first notify his supervisor or his company. In most cases, a phone call or a short message is enough to be on the safe side. Depending on the internal regulation, the company may require a sick note as proof on the first or second day. By law, it must be submitted to the employer by the fourth day at the latest (§ 5, para. 1, EFZG).

By the way: There is no certain number of permitted days of absence in Germany. But there are exceptions where there is a risk of dismissal (due to illness). During the probationary period, you are also not always protected against dismissal due to illness.

By law: continued payment of wages in the event of illness

If the employee has been on sick leave, the German Continued Payment of Remuneration Act (EFZG) applies. This states: "If an employee is prevented from performing his work due to incapacity for work due to illness through no fault of his own, he is entitled to continued payment of remuneration in the event of illness by the employer for the period of incapacity for work for a period of up to six weeks." Put simply, the employer must continue to pay his employee full wages – for up to six weeks.

But be careful: In principle, the employer has the right to doubt a certificate – even if this is not easy.

Salary: What happens after six weeks?

At the end of the six weeks, the employer's obligation to continue to pay wages ends. From this point on, the legal regulation of sickness benefit payment by the health insurance companies takes effect. The employee must register with his health insurance company and apply for sickness benefit. For this purpose, a medical certificate of continuous incapacity for work is also required.

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As a rule, sickness benefit is paid by the employer from the day after the end of the continued payment of wages. The Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) writes: "Subsequently, the health insurance company pays 70 percent of the regularly earned gross salary up to the contribution assessment ceiling (4,837.50 euros per month, as of 2021), but not more than 90 percent of the last net salary. Sickness benefit, including continued payment of remuneration, shall be limited to 78 weeks over a period of three years."

Don't miss: You can find everything you need to know about careers in the career newsletter of our partner Merkur.de.

What are employees' obligations when it comes to sick pay?

In the case of sick leave, the employer pays the full salary for up to six weeks. After that, the sickness benefit takes effect. (Symbolic image) © arnoaltix/Imago

Those who receive sickness benefit must fulfill some obligations. For example, the Independent Patient Counselling Germany (UPD) writes that employees who receive this payment should be aware of the following obligations to cooperate:

  • The disclosure of facts that are relevant to the performance.
  • The personal appearance for the oral discussion of the facts.
  • The conduct of investigations.
  • Participation in medical treatments.

But: According to the UPD, this does not mean "that you have to have everything done to you. Their obligations to cooperate are limited. Your health insurance company is not allowed to do everything."

After continued payment of wages and sick pay: return to work

Even while receiving sick pay, employees have the opportunity to gradually return to work. This can take the form of part-time work or gradual reintegration. In this case, an individual plan is drawn up together with the employer, which takes into account the employee's state of health.

This article was created with the help of machines and carefully reviewed by editor Anna Heyers before publication.

Source: merkur

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