Legal Alerts / 24 Apr 2012

Legal Alert – Amendments to the Finnish Health Insurance Act and the Occupational Health Care Act, Government Bill 75/2011

The Government has given a bill to the Parliament to amend the Finnish Health Insurance Act and the Finnish Occupational Health Care Act, the purpose of which is to improve the possibilities to intervene in prolonged disabilities to work earlier than at present.

According to the Government Bill, the Health Insurance Act shall be amended in such a way that the prerequisite for the payment of sickness allowance after 90 days of receiving the said allowance is that the insured employee shall deliver to the Social Insurance Institution of Finland a statement from the occupational health care provider containing an assessment of the employee’s remaining ability to work and a report of the employee’s possibility to continue in his work as well as the measures planned by the employer, employee and occupational health care provider together to enable the employee’s return to work.

The aforementioned obligation to submit the occupational health care provider’s statement to the Social Insurance Institution of Finland does not in itself affect the granting of and applying for the sickness allowance. The sickness allowance will be granted in the future the same way as at present, i.e. the prerequisite is that the insured shall provide a B statement given by the treating doctor, who does not necessarily have to be the doctor from the company’s occupational health care provider, within 60 days of receiving sickness allowance. The granting of sickness allowance can thus be prolonged after the period of 90 days of receiving the said allowance, but prior to continuing the payment thereof, it shall be verified that the occupational health care provider’s statement has been submitted to the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

From the employer’s perspective, the influence that the reforms have in practice is that the employer will have an obligation to find out, together with the employee and the occupational health care provider, the possibilities of the employee to continue at work. A report thereon shall be included in the occupational health care provider’s statement.

In addition, the employer shall inform the occupational health care provider of the employee’s absence from work due to sickness at the latest when the absence has continued for a month, because the employer is the first one to know about the employee’s absence due to sickness. The employer will thus have the obligation to initiate the process in order for the occupational health care provider’s statement to be done in time.

Furthermore, the sickness allowance shall be applied within two months of the start of the disability to work, instead of the four months currently required.

The amendments of law will enter into force on 1 June 2012.

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