Employee was entitled to Salary during Sickness Absence Period

An employee was entitled to salary during the sickness absence period following an eye operation. This was the conclusion of the industrial arbitration tribunal in its pronouncement issued on 29 October 2013.

The case concerned the question whether an employee was entitled to salary from the employer during a 7-day period of sickness absence following an eye operation. The parties agreed that the determination of the question depended on whether pursuant to the Danish Act on Sickness Benefits the employee was entitled to sickness benefits from the employer for the seven days in question.

Pursuant to the Danish Act on Sickness Benefits, the eligibility for sickness benefits paid by the employer will lapse if the employee has contracted the disease intentionally or by gross negligence. This includes, inter alia, cosmetic surgery.

The employer had claimed that since the eye operation was neither prescribed by the doctor nor indicated by medical reasons, the disease had been contracted intentionally and the situation could therefore be compared with a cosmetic surgery not necessary for medical reasons.

The industrial arbitration tribunal had taken into account that the employee, prior to the operation, had suffered from impaired vision. The industrial arbitration tribunal found that the impaired vision was not self-inflicted and that the surgical intervention took place for treatment purposes - viz. to correct the impaired vision. The situation could not be compared with cosmetic surgery unnecessary for medical reasons where an intervention is made on a healthy body for the sole purpose of changing the physical appearance. Therefore, the employee's right to salary from the employer had not lapsed.

The pronouncement shows that the right to sickness benefits from the employer for a sickness period following voluntary surgery for physical diseases taking place for treatment purposes does not become void although the operation had not been prescribed by a doctor. However, this does not apply in the event of cosmetic surgery on a healthy body.

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