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Points to note in the event of illness: a checklist

Are you ill? If so, check the checklist

Every employee is sure to fall ill at some point. If you have a temperature, cough or other symptoms, you will have other things to worry about than statutory requirements. Unfortunately, you can't quite ignore them. Below is a list of your rights and what you need to remember should you fall ill.

Stay on the safe side: a checklist

Please check the points below should you fall ill:

  • Report sick: If you are feeling unwell and cannot go to work, you must notify your employer first of all – before, or at the latest when, you are due to start work.
  • Sick note: If you are ill, you will need a sick note (Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung). Send one copy to your employer and one copy to us. The third copy is for your records.
  • Apply for a sickness allowance (see below) if your incapacity lasts longer than six weeks.

Free choice of doctor: you choose which doctor treats you

In Germany, the principle of free choice applies. This means that you decide which doctors are to treat you. Members of statutory health insurance schemes have access to all doctors and dentists who are accredited by the statutory health insurance system. In an emergency, you can also be treated by other doctors.

Sick notes

Your employer will need a certificate from your doctor after three days' absence at the latest as evidence that you are unfit to work. This sick note is called an „Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung“ and is also known as a „gelber Zettel“. Make sure you check what rules in your case: some companies require a sick note on the very first day of absence. Calendar days and not simply working days are counted, so you must include Saturdays and Sundays when calculating the length of your absence. You will receive three copies of the doctor's note: one for your employer, one for us (your health insurer) and one for your own records.

Reporting sick: informing your employer

You must notify your employer that you are ill and unable to attend work. This should be done by the time you are due to start work. If you do not report sick until later, you could receive a warning. Multiple warnings can lead to dismissal on conduct grounds.

Hospital stays: in-patient treatment

Certain treatments can only be provided in a hospital. As with doctors, you can also choose the hospital at which you wish to be treated, provided it is part of the statutory health insurance system. However, not every hospital offers all procedures and certain hospitals only treat private patients or patients who pay for themselves. If you need to go into hospital, your GP or consultant will advise you and tell you which hospital would be suitable. Your doctor will then issue you with a referral form (Einweisungsschein), which you will need to submit to the hospital.

Salary continuation: pay in the event of sickness

All employees who have been working at a company for at least one month have the right to the continuation of their pay. You should therefore continue to receive your salary despite your illness for a maximum of six weeks.

Absent for more than six weeks? You qualify for sickness allowance

If your illness leads to an absence of longer than six weeks, your health insurer will pay a sickness allowance (Krankengeld) amounting to 70 percent of your salary. We pay this benefit for a maximum of 18 months. Your doctor must certify your incapacity for this period.

Applying for sickness allowance

Your employer will notify us of your salary and the date on which continued salary payments end. From this point on, you will then receive a sickness allowance. Your doctor will continue to issue sick notes, which you should send to us. We will then post you the necessary documents. Please note: the sickness allowance is paid on the basis of calendar days. We also backdate the sickness allowance, in other words it applies from when your continued salary payments end. Sickness allowance ends on the date on the sick note.