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Absence due to sickness

Sickness absence interviews

If an employee is ill for an extended period of time, the university has a duty to summon the employee to a sickness absence interview at reasonable notice within 4 weeks of the first sickness day. This duty applies to all employees, including part-time employees who work an average of 8 hours a week.

The employer’s duty to hold sickness absence interviews does not apply to employees who are under notice and will be leaving within 8 weeks of their first sickness day.

The purpose of sickness absence interviews is to enhance the dialogue between the employer and the employee on sick leave. The interview should identify how and when the employee on sick leave can return to the workplace. In other words, the objective is to get the employee back to work, and the sickness absence interview should therefore be seen as part of employee care. 

Sickness absence interviews are generally called and held by the employee’s immediate superior. If desired, the superior can involve a representative of the main academic area’s HR department. The employee must always be given the opportunity to bring an observer to the interview, usually a union representative.

The interviewer can ask what functions the employee can perform in view of his/her sickness, how long an absence is likely to last, and how work arrangements could be adapted to accommodate his/her sickness. The employer must not ask about the nature of the employee’s illness.

There are no formal requirements for summoning an employee to an interview. AU-HR recommends summoning employees by letter or email for the most part.

You are under an obligation to take notes, when conducting an absence due to illness interview. It means that a summary of the content of the interview must be made including any agreements entered into. The  legal authority for that is found in the Public Danish Information Act section 6 about the obligation to take notes. It says that factual information which has an influence on the decision in a specific case must be documented in a summary.

Certificate of fitness to work

The certificate of fitness to work is used when an employee’s health has led to sick leave and there is uncertainty in the dialogue between the university and the employee as to which job functions the employee is able to perform. The certificate makes it possible for the university and the employee to obtain a doctor's assessment of whether the employee will be able to perform relevant work functions in future without his/her health suffering.

The certificate has two parts. Part 1 is completed in collaboration between the employer and employee on the basis of an interview conducted in person or by telephone. If an interview in person is preferred, reasonable notice must be given (approx. 1 week).

There must be a description of the employee’s functional limitations, the job functions affected and any adaptations to work arrangements (redeployment, change of duties, home working, help from colleagues, management initiatives, physical training, etc.) agreed between the university and the employee.

The employee is under an obligation to attend the interview during normal working hours if his/her sickness permits it. If the employee is unable to attend owing to his/her sickness, the interview is held by telephone. The employee can be assisted by his/her union representative or other observer.

Part 2 is completed by the doctor on the basis of part 1 once it has been filled out and following a talk with the employee. The doctor must decide whether the working conditions described by the employer and employee in part 1 are reasonable in relation to the employee’s health and whether sick leave is advisable. The doctor can also say whether there is a need for further adaptation of the job. Finally, the doctor assesses how long adaptation must be expected to last or how long it will be necessary for the employee to be completely or partially absent from work.

A certificate of fitness to work can be drawn up at any stage of the sickness. It can also be used in the case of repeated absence due to sickness, i.e. the employer can require one to be drawn up when the employee is not on sick leave, but has been off sick repeatedly.

In exceptional circumstances the university may need an employee to be able to prove that his/her absence is lawful, i.e. that it is due to sickness. In such cases the employer can request a sick note in which the doctor certifies that the employee’s absence is due to sickness and gives an estimate of how long his/her absence will continue.

The cost of both doctor’s certificates and certificates of fitness to work will be met by the university.

Retention plan

If sick leave is expected to last more than 8 weeks from the first sickness day, the employee can - at any stage of his/her sickness - ask for a written retention plan to be drawn up concerning how he/she can return to the university completely or partially as soon as possible. An employee under notice cannot ask for a retention plan to be drawn up.

A retention plan will normally mean that the employee can return to work sooner and gives an employee affected by long-term or serious illness greater security.

The retention plan must be drawn up in collaboration with the employee and can contain a description of, e.g., job adaptation and changed duties. The most important thing is for the plan to be specific and action oriented.

If the sick employee has had a retention plan drawn up, the plan must be taken to the follow-up interview at the job centre. The job centre should then use the plan as a basis to the extent possible, see below.

Employer period of 30 calendar days

When the university pays sick employees who are entitled to sickness benefits, the university is entitled to a sickness benefit refund from the municipality if the employee’s absence lasts more than 30 calendar days.

AU must notify the municipality where the employee lives of his/her absence within 5 weeks of the first day of absence if the employee’s absence exceeds the employer period of 30 days. A sickness benefit refund from the municipality is conditional upon the employee having worked at least 240 hours in the previous 26 weeks.

If an employee reports fit for duty with a view to taking a holiday, problems may arise if the employee wants to “go back” on sick leave after the holiday. An assessment of whether this is possible can only be made by the municipality, and it is therefore important that, before reporting fit for duty and before the start of the holiday, the employee who is off sick contacts the municipality and finds out the municipality's position vis-à-vis the employee’s wish to take holiday.

If the employee has not worked for his/her current employer for 8 weeks and at least 74 hours, he/she is classified as a new employee and the employer is entitled to a sickness benefit refund from the first day of sickness (no employer period of 30 days). A sickness benefit refund from the municipality is conditional upon the employee having worked at least 240 hours in the previous 26 weeks.

Stopping sickness benefit refund in case of failure to participate in municipality’s follow-up

An employee on sick leave whose sickness benefits have stopped because of failure to participate in the municipality’s follow-up can only use this get-out once during an ongoing sickness benefit process.

The municipality stops sickness benefits when the sick employee fails to contribute to the municipality’s follow-up without good reason, either by rejecting the doctor’s advice to receive the necessary medical treatment or by refusing the doctor’s or municipality’s advice to take part in appropriate rehabilitation in order to regain his/her capacity for work during the current sickness benefit process.

If the employee on sick leave goes back to work and subsequently reports sick again, becoming entitled to sickness benefits once more, the get-out can again be used once.

The purpose of this change is to avoid delaying sickness follow-up and avoid stopping and restarting payment of sickness benefits and thus placing a burden on municipal administration.

Section 56 agreement - sickness benefit refund from first day of absence in the case of chronic or long-term illness

If an employee has a chronic or long-term condition that is estimated to cause at least 10 days of absence in a year, the employer and employee have the option of entering into a section 56 agreement in cooperation with the municipality where the employee lives.

A section 56 agreement is a support option for employers who have employees with an increased risk of absence due to sickness, admission to hospital or the need for treatment.

It makes it possible for AU to obtain a sickness benefit refund from the employee’s first day of absence. An application for a section 56 agreement must be submitted to the municipality where the employee lives on form DP 211, Agreement between Employer and Employee under Section 56 of the Danish Sickness Benefits Act (Aftale mellem arbejdsgiver og lønmodtager efter sygedagpengelovens § 56).  A section 56 agreement can be entered into for up to 2 years at a time and only covers absences related to the employee’s condition.

An application for a sickness benefit refund must be submitted for each individual instance of sick leave under the section 56 agreement. It is not possible to combine sick days over a period and apply once.

 

In the event of any inconsistency between the Danish and English language of the document, the Danish version prevails.

 

 

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