Absence due to illness and sick-pay
As an employer, you have a responsibility to follow up your employees who are on sick leave and prevent absence due to illness. When an employee falls ill, both the employee and you as employer have responsibilities. Employers are entitled to refunds as of day four of absence related to the Covid-19 pandemic. This applies if the employee is infected, assumed infected or in mandatory quarantine.
Notification of absence due to illness
Employees must notify their employer as soon as possible in the event of absence due to illness. The employer cannot demand to be told the reason for the absence. The obligation to pay sick-pay commences on the day on which you are notified of the absence, unless the employee has been unable to notify you.
When you must pay sick-pay
As an employer, you must pay sick-pay for a period of up to 16 calendar days (the employer's period). In the case of absence due to the coronavirus, you should still pay out sick-pay in the employer´s period, but you can later apply for a refund from day four and onwards of absence. In order for you to reclaim sick-pay from NAV for day four and onwards, the employee must - through self-certification or a medical certificate - state that the absence is due to the covid-19-pandemic. All days are counted, not just days on which the employee should have been at work. The employer's period is counted from and including the first full day of sick leave. The employee must have worked for you for at least four weeks in order to be entitled to sick-pay.
If an employee falls ill again within less than 16 calendar days since the previous sick leave, this must be included in the same employer's period. If more than 16 calendar days have passed since the employee returned to work, you will be obliged to pay sick-pay for a new employer's period in the event of further absence.
If it is stipulated in an employment contract or collective agreement that the employer must pay full salary during sick leave, normal salary payments will continue during sick leave. However, as an employer, you can reclaim the sick-pay in the form of a refund from NAV. As an employer, you will not be entitled to refunds for payments exceeding 6G (National Insurance basic amounts).
Self-certification means that an employee reports their incapacity due to illness or injury themselves, without presenting a medical certificate. Self-certification can also be used by persons in quarantine or isolation due to the coronavirus.
In order to use self-certification, the employee must have worked for you for at least two months.
In the case of absence lasting more than three calendar days (including weekdays), the employee must normally present a medical certificate. If the employee falls ill again and presents a new self-certification note before 16 calendar days have passed, the same employer's period will continue to run. You can decide that the right to use self-certification should be limited to four times in a 12-month period. It is of no significance in this case whether the absence lasts one, two or three days.
Absence due to the coronavirus
Employees required to stay home from work due to infection control rules are entitled to sick pay, provided that they are unable to work from home. The employee does not have to experience symptoms or have been tested and diagnosed with the virus to be entitled to sick-pay. Self-certification can be used for up to three calendar days at a time. As an employer, you can allow your employee to use self-certification beyond the three days.
Employers can allow the employees to use self-certification beyond the minimum rights provided in the National Insurance Act. Employees of IA companies (companies who has adopted the "Inclusive Working Life Scheme"), were - up to 1 January 2019- entitled to self-certification of up to eight consecutive days of sickness, with a total of 24 days of self-certification per year. The current IA-agreement (2019 to the end of 2022) encourages all companies to consider the scheme of extended self-certification.
Loss of right to use self-certification
As an employer, you can suspend the right to use self-certification for an employee if he/she during a course of 12 months has had more than four absences without providing a medical certificate, or if you have reasonable grounds to believe that the absence is not due to illness. Before suspending this right, the employee should have the opportunity to account for the absence. The decision to suspend self-certification must be re-assessed after six months.
Medical certificates may be issued by a doctor, chiropractor or physiotherapist. There are various forms of medical certification. In the case of partial sick leave (which cannot be less than 20 percent), contact with the workplace may be maintained at the same time as you benefit from the remaining work capacity. Periods with partial sick-pay are included in the total duration of the sick-pay period.
Medical certificates in connection with the coronavirus
Only employees infected, assumed infected, or in mandatory quarantine are entitled to a medical certificate. Employees are encouraged to work from home if possible.
During the covid-19-pandemic, NAV will accept medical certificates without a personal examination by a doctor, regardless of the employee´s diagnosis. This is an exception to the general rule that a medical certificate requires a personal examination by a doctor.
Medical certificates for pending sick leave
Medical certificates for pending sick leave inform the employer that sick leave can be avoided if changes are made to the work. If such changes are not possible and the employee takes full sick leave, the doctor will alter the pending sick leave to ordinary sick leave. The medical certificate will then apply from the start date of the pending sick leave.
Digital medical certificates and follow-up plan
All employees on sick leave can receive and send medical certificates and submit applications for sick-pay to their employer electronically. After the sick leave, the employee will receive notification by text or e-mail with a request to log on to nav.no. Here, he or she can view their medical certificate and send it to you. You will receive the medical certificate in your Altinn inbox. At the same time, as an employer you can notify NAV of the name of the immediate superior who has personnel responsibility for the person on sick leave. The manager will then be given access to a separate page with an overview of the medical certificates and information on the follow-up.
Calculating the sick-pay basis
Sick-pay is intended to compensate for the loss of employment income during illness or injury. The sick-pay basis is the income which is to be used to calculate the sick-pay. This basis is determined on the basis of the calculated weekly income during a particular period of time before the absence due to illness. Salary income and other benefits are included. The same applies to supplements for unsociable working hours and special working conditions. However, special allowances such as the car allowance are not covered.
Sick-pay is not calculated for annual incomes in excess of six times the National Insurance basic amount.
Employees with an annual income of less than ½G (currently NOK 49.929/year) are not entitled to sick-pay from NAV. The calculation you use as a basis for paying sick-pay from the business is the same as that which you report on the income information form to NAV. When NAV takes over the responsibility, a number of factors may be taken into account. For new employees, it may for example be appropriate to take account of previous income.
Advances and refunds of sick-pay beyond the employer's period
Employers paying wages/sick-pay beyond the 16 day employer's period (beyond three days for absence due to the coronavirus), can request a refund from NAV. NAV does not refund salaries in excess of 6G (the National Insurance basic amount). Any supplements relating to advances of sick-pay must be agreed in an employment agreement or collective agreement.
If you do not pay wages beyond the employer´s period, the benefits will be paid directly by NAV to the employee. The benefits will be calculated in the same way as sickness benefit. NAV will refund holiday pay for up to 48 days of sick leave. If you have paid sick-pay beyond the end of the employer's period, you must apply for refunds within three months in order not to lose your entitlement to the refunds.
Income information to NAV
Before NAV can take over responsibility for the sick-pay and pay sick-pay to the employer or directly to the person on sick leave, the employer must complete and submit the income information form to NAV.
Small enterprises and voluntary insurance against liability for sick-pay during the employer's period
As an employer, you can insure yourself against any liability for sick-pay during the employer's period (the employer's period is normally the first 16 days of illness). It is a condition that total salary payments during the previous year do not exceed 40 G (the National Insurance basic amount).
In order to apply for this insurance, you need to submit the form "NAV – frivillig forsikring mot ansvar for sykepenger i arbeidsgiverperioden for små bedrifter" (in Norwegian only).
Sick-pay refunds in connection with the first 16 days of absence
In some cases, the business will also receive a refund (but must pay advances on sick-pay) for absence during the first 16 days:
- If the absence is due to the coronavirus (refund from day four and onwards)
- If NAV has granted exemption because the employee has a long-term or chronic illness
- If the employee is on sick leave because of a pregnancy-related illness and NAV has granted exemption for the employer's period
- After three days of absence in the case of small enterprises (total wage payment previous year not exceeding 40 G) which have taken out insurance against sick-pay liability during the employer's period
As an employer, you are not liable to pay sick-pay when it is less than four weeks since the employment began.
Questions concerning sick leave
NAV will answer any questions you may have concerning sick leave, sick-pay refunds and the follow-up of those on sick leave.