Germany to scrap law allowing workers to get sick notes over the phone
The special regulation allowing employees to obtain proof of illness over the telephone is due to end on Friday.
The concession was originally introduced by the federal committee of doctors, clinics and health insurance companies to prevent the spread of infection at the height of the Covid pandemic. It has been in place for three years.
The chairman of the committee, Josef Hecken, told DPA that sick leave by telephone had fulfilled its function during the pandemic as an “easy-to-implement way to distinguish between mild and severe cases of illness and to avoid full waiting rooms”.
However, with the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) currently considering Covid ‘low risk’, the regulation will be allowed to expire on March 31st.
Nevertheless, Hecken said the rule can be re-introduced at any point in the future at short notice if required.
READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany
Sick notes by video call
Despite the end of sick notes by phone, there will still be a solution for those who would prefer to steer clear of the waiting room when they aren’t feeling their best.
People with insurance will be allowed to apply for a sick note via video call – provided their GP offers this service and they don’t need a physical examination.
Patients who are looking for an online consultation also have the option to search for video appointments using portals such as Doctolib and Jameda.
“Quite independently of the pandemic situation, insured persons can also obtain a sick note during a video consultation – not only for minor respiratory diseases,” explained Hecken.
Under German law, people who are off sick from work need to submit a doctor’s note to their company by the fourth day of illness at the latest.
GPs assess the level of illness and how much time the employee should take off from work and this information is then forwarded onto their employers – usually by their public health insurer.
READ ALSO: Working in Germany: The 10 rules you need to know if you fall ill
sick note – (die) Krankschreibung
calling in sick – (die) Krankmeldung
video appointment – (die) Videosprechstunde
waiting rooms – (die) Wartezimmer
We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.