Despite the fact that Covid-19 is a potentially long-term, serious illness, the illness has not caused a significant increase in sick leave benefits, according to the Social Insurance Agency Kela.
Although the coronavirus crisis has in many cases cost businesses and households dearly, Kela’s research director Jenni Blomgren, said the benefits of the pandemic have not yet significantly emptied the agency’s coffers.
"[Covid illnesses] totals approximately 0.1 per cent of the sickness benefits paid by Kela from March to July," Blomgren said.
During that period, Kela paid a total of EUR 354 million in sickness benefits, according to the agency.
For example, other illnesses, such as mental health and musculoskeletal problems, accounted for a much higher share of benefits paid.
Various allowances available
Kela also offers benefits to people who have been diagnosed with an infectious disease, if there is a suspicion of infection or if they have been exposed.
When these charges are taken into account, the epidemic has had a greater financial impact on the agency, Blomgren explained.
"If this also includes benefits granted for communicable diseases [cases and exposures] accounts for only 0.6% of the total," he said, but pointed out that those who received quarantine instructions should apply for contagious sickness benefits, not regular sick leave;
"Infectious disease per diems are better for the client because they are paid from the first day and 100 percent of their normal salary. The benefits of sick leave are only about 70%," Blomgren said.
Employers should also know their choices
Because of collective agreements, workers in some sectors don’t have to think so much about specific benefits. Several such agreements ensure that employers pay wages to employees who receive Covid, are quarantined, or are otherwise affected by the virus.
On the other hand, employers can also benefit by applying for sick leave benefits rather than for communicable disease benefits.
"The employer then receives full salary compensation from Kela," Blomgren said.
Other Covid-related payments increased
Although coronavirus infections have so far not affected health benefits, the epidemic has still affected Kela’s payments.
For example, the number of people applying for unemployment or income support clearly increased during the spring and summer, the research manager explained.
"The coronavirus epidemic has affected many people in different populations, not just those affected," Blomgren said.
Source: The Nordic Page