COVID-19 – new rules on reimbursement of sickness benefits in Denmark

On Friday 13 March 2020, the Minister of Employment made a proposal to amend the Sickness Benefits Act. The amendment extends access to sickness benefit reimbursement for employers and access to sickness benefit for self-employed persons if the absence is due to COVID-19.

The bill was finally adopted on 17 March2020 in the form presented. The Act applies retroactively with effect from 27 February 2020 (the first case of COVID-19 infection in Denmark). Since this is an initiative as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, the provisional rules will automatically expire on 1 January 2021.

Employers and the employer period
The general sickness benefit rules stipulate that private and public employers basically have an obligation to either pay salaries during illness or pay sickness benefits during the first 30 sick leave days (the employer period). Only after the end of this period, the employer can claim sickness benefit reimbursement from the municipality of the sick employee.

With this bill, the rules on the employer period are suspended temporarily so that reimbursement is provided to employers for paid salaries or sickness benefits already from the first day of absence if the absence is caused by COVID-19 and the employee otherwise meets the law's conditions for sickness benefit.

Self-employed persons and "own sickness period"
Under the current sickness benefit rules, self-employed persons are only entitled to receive sickness benefits from the municipality after two weeks' sick leave ("own sickness period").

With the temporary amendment of the rules for sickness benefit, the self-employed person will be able to receive sickness benefit from the first day of absence if the absence is due to COVID-19 and the self-employed person otherwise fulfils the conditions of the law to receive sickness benefit.

Comments on the Bill
The proposed legislative amendments do not apply to persons who have been reported sick for other reasons without connection to COVID-19. The following persons are included:

  1. Persons found to be infected and persons with a realistic presumption that their absence due to illness was caused by a COVID-19 infection. In addition, individuals who - without any actual finding of illness - have been quarantined to contain the spread of COVID-19. The quarantine must be initiated by the authorities. The general conditions for entitlement to sickness benefits must be met before a refund can be obtained.
  2. Persons who cannot carry out their work because of a recommendation from the health authorities to certain groups of people to stay at home due to specific circumstances related to COVID-19. In these cases, the general requirement to be incapacitated due to own illness is waived, while the other conditions in the Sickness Benefit Act must still be fulfilled.

If the person works completely or partially from home, the reimbursement will lapse in whole or in part in accordance with the general rules of the Sickness Benefit Act.

Reporting and documentation
At present, a medical report cannot be required as evidence of the absence, and the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment has recently announced that the employer does not need to obtain a signed solemn declaration from the employee for the purpose of the reimbursement request. The self-employed person, on the other hand, must already declare solemnly in the application form (NR 104C) that he/she has a realistic presumption that the absence is due to COVID-19.

The employer must use the general reporting system (NemRefusion) in connection with the request for an extended reimbursement due to COVID-19, so that cases can be created automatically in the municipalities. In the application, the employer must state "Other cause" and inform with free text that the reason for absence is COVID-19. Thereafter, the employee will receive a notification letter showing the employer's information. The employee is obliged to notify the municipality if he/she does not agree with the information provided by the employer. In that case, the employee must state why the employee cannot confirm the information provided by the employer.

As a rule, the employee is not required to provide further documentation of the absence, but if there is any doubt in specific cases, the municipality can request the absent employee to provide a completed solemn declaration.

The Act applies for absence days in the period from 27 February 2020 (first case of infection in Denmark) to 31 December 2020. The scheme has entered into force and employers/self-employed persons can already now apply for reimbursement for absence due to COVID -19.

The proposed bill:

The adopted bill:

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