Czech Coalition Considers Reinstating Waiting Period for Sick Leave Without Pay

The Czech government is debating reintroducing a waiting period, meaning employees would not receive sick pay for the first three days of illness. An analysis to be carried out by the Ministry of Health in April will help inform the decision. Most of the coalition parties consider this measure to be a meaningful saving. Employees receive sixty percent of their base earnings from the first day of incapacity to work.

The waiting period ended four years ago, and the opposition wants people to continue to be reimbursed for the first days of illness. The Ministry of Health is awaiting an impact analysis to determine whether to reintroduce the waiting period. The study is due to be completed this month. “I want to have clear, verified, and validated data,” said Minister Vlastimil Válek (TOP 09).

TOP 09 has long favored the introduction of the waiting period, a view recently confirmed by party leader Markéta Pekarová Adamová. Representatives of ODS and STAN have spoken similarly. In contrast, the Pirates have long criticized the abolition of sick pay for the first three days of illness. Christian Democrats are also cautious.

After the waiting period was abolished, there was a 17 percent increase in sick leave. According to the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Jana Maláčová, coronavirus distorted the statistics. “I would be cautious about whether we want to reintroduce this and pressure people to think twice about going to work. Because where there is no sick day, the employee suddenly finds themselves in a more complicated situation,” said Minister of Labor Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL).

Pirates are fundamentally opposed to the reintroduction of the waiting period. “From the beginning, we have been against it. By reducing sick pay to sixty percent of their salary, people will always feel strongly that they are ill. We don’t want to punish anyone more,” said Pirate’s Vice-Chair Olga Richterová.

Currently, employers pay the first fourteen days of sick leave. However, four years ago, with the abolition of the waiting period, employers’ insurance contributions for employees fell by two-tenths of a percentage point. One of the proposed options is that this payment should be raised again. “I do not object to contributions adjustments, but this would have to mean that employers would be relieved of the obligations that have shifted to them in connection with the administration associated with the waiting period,” warns Skopeček.