1 January 2020 will bring almost revolutionary changes to the system of processing sick leaves and sickness benefits due to the digitalization of the reporting of employees’ sick leaves. The current paper-based sick note will be replaced by its electronic version, an “e-sick note”, which will move the sharing of data between doctors, employers and the Czech Social Security Administration („CSSZ“ or „SSZ“) online. The new e-sick note system will use new forms and it will introduce new processes for both doctors and employers.
These changes aim to make administration of sick leaves easier, quicker and more transparent. We will bid farewell to the historic five-part copy paper forms and we will no longer need to exchange various parts of the sick-note between doctors, CSSZ, patients and employers. The digitalization will result in a quicker and easier payment of sickness benefits, more user-friendly system for doctors, who will be able to use software support to fill in and send forms, and last, but not least, it will allow employers an easy online access to information about employees’ sick leaves.
A fully functional e-sick note will be launched on 1 January 2020. Works to connect the systems used by the CSSZ and doctors should already start on 1 November 2019 and continue according to an agreed schedule. All communication between the subjects concerned will be administered via a CSSZ ePortal.
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From 1 January 2020, it will be mandatory to issue a new type of a sick note (an „e-sick note„).
An e-sick note will contain the following forms to be filled in by the employee’s treating physician:
- 1st part of an e-sick note – Notification of the beginning of a sick leave (electronic form);
- 2nd part of an e-sick note – Card of an employee unfit for work (printed form);
- 3rd part of an e-sick note – Notification of the end of a sick leave (electronic form).
Besides these basic forms, doctors will be able to fill in and issue the following additional forms:
- Certificate of a continuing sick leave – on the 14th day of the sick leave and each following month of the sick leave (printed form): only for insured employees from another EU state;
- Treating physician’s notification – notification of any changes concerning the sick leave (electronic form).
Brief overview of the process after the launch of the eSick note
After the launch of the e-sick note, the process concerning administration of a sick leave of an employee will require the following steps:
- A sick employee sees his/her doctor who decides that the employee is unfit for work;
- The doctor will issue an e-sick note either via his/her certified software or using a web application available at the CSSZ ePortal;
- When the doctor fills in the employee’s insurance registration number, the employee’s data will be automatically uploaded from the CSSZ register, including information on the employee’s employer; the employee will merely confirm the accuracy of these data;
- The doctor will fill in the diagnosis, the date of the beginning of the sick leave and possibly other additional information and send this information electronically to the responsible SSZ branch;
- The doctor will also print out a Card of an employee unfit for work and hand it over to the employee;
- The employee will without undue delay inform his/her employer on being unfit for work;
- The employer will be able to access and verify all information about the employee’s sick leave, including its start and duration, the employee’s address of residence, and the end of the sick leave on the CSSZ ePortal;
- Employers who asked to be notified of sick leaves of their employees (at the CSSZ ePortal) will be notified via their data mailboxes (or, in an abridged form, via email) as soon as the doctor enters the data into the system.
Scope of information available to employers in the CSSZ ePortal
Thanks to the CSSZ ePortal, employers will be able to immediately receive information on the following:
- The fact that an employee has been found temporarily unfit for work;
- Number of the decision establishing the employee’s temporary unfitness for work;
- Date of the beginning of the sick leave;
- Whether the treating physician’s decision contained any suspicion of an industrial injury, injury caused by another person or by abuse of alcohol, drugs or other psychotropic substances;
- Address of the employee’s residence and the scope and times of outings permitted in the first 14 calendar days of the sick leave, and any changes thereto;
- Treating physician’s name, surname and work address, name and address of the provider of medical services who issued the decision on the beginning or end of the sick leave;
- The fact that the sick leave has been terminated;
- The end date of the sick leave.
A detailed overview of the process after the launch of eSick note
Doctor appointment and beginning of sick leave
The employee sees a doctor who, after examining the employee, establishes that the employee is unfit for work.
Doctors will have two equally valid options of how to issue an e-sick note since they will be able to use their own medical software or the free online application available at the CSSZ ePortal. The technical solution employed does not require the use of an electronic signature or any other new identifier and doctors will be able to use the system certificate issued by the State Institute for Drug Control which they already use for e-prescription. Regardless of whether the doctor uses his/her special software or the online application, the patient’s personal data, including information on the patient’s employer, will upload automatically. The doctor will only fill in the diagnosis, the date of the beginning of the sick leave, or possibly other additional information.
The doctor will send the first part of the e-sick note – Notification of the beginning of a sick leave – electronically to the responsible SSZ. At the same time, the doctor will print out the second part of the e-sick note – Card of an employee unfit for work (one A5 page). This print-out will be handed to the employee and will be used to record appointments and checks with the treating physician or the CSSZ, and the duration and end of the sick leave. The Employee will not hand the card to the employer or anyone else but will keep it for the purposes specified above. Employers who asked to be sent notifications (see point “Information available to employers via the CSSZ ePortal” below) will be notified by CSSZ immediately after the treating physician’s notification has been uploaded into the system. Otherwise, notifications to employers will be sent immediately after the treating physician’s notification has been processed (and the data verified) in CSSZ systems (or by SSZ employees, should any further investigation be needed).
Proving sickness to the employer
Employees’ obligation to immediately inform their employer that they are unfit for work remains unchanged. The employee will proceed as prescribed (expected) by his/her employer, i.e. contact the employer by e-mail, telephone etc. If an employer’s internal regulations require that an employee shall submit a sick note, such rules should be changed, since sick notes which should be submitted to the employer will no longer exist. Employers will be able to easily verify employee’s sickness online (see below).
Information available to employers via the CSSZ ePortal
The good news is that employers will no longer have to rely on employees’ active approach to learn about the beginning of a sick leave. Employers will have two options to learn about their employees’ sick leave, both available in the CSSZ ePortal client zone.
Registered users will be able to use two types of services:
- Service for verification or downloading of information on employees’ sick leaves:
Information will be downloaded via data mailboxes. Moreover, employers who will want to process e-sick notes in their own software will be able to use a new service called „Information on sick leaves for employers“, which will work via the VREP (APEP) channel, which is currently used to file electronic submissions. This service should allow for regular automated downloading of information on employees’ sick leaves directly into the employer’s payroll or HR software. How exactly this information will be processed into the employer’s software depends on the provider of the software.
This channel will allow employers not only to obtain information about the beginning, duration and end of a sick leave, but also about the employee’s current address of residence and permitted outings.
It should be possible to save the output as a PDF or XML file.
- Automatic electronic notifications of employees’ sick leaves:
Employers who file a request via the CSSZ ePortal will be sent a notification of the beginning, change or termination of their employees’ sick leaves either by email, as a short report that a change in the status has been recorded, which may be verified as described above, or by a data message sent to the employer’s data mailbox as a PDF or XML file which will contain complete information about the sick leave.
An uncertified informative message will be sent immediately after CSSZ receives an electronic message from the doctor that an employee has been found unfit for work.
After processing of individual notifications included in the e-sick note and their examination by a CSSZ employee, extracts from the first and the third part of the e-sick note, certificate of a continuing sick leave and selected data from the treating physician’s notification will be sent to the employer. According to information received from the SSZ, the processing will be a matter of hours or days, depending on the circumstances of the given case, in particular, the accuracy of the data filled in and the potential need for their re-examination.
Due to the protection of privacy, notifications will only contain the employee’s name, surname, date of birth and date of beginning of the sick leave.
The employer will be notified on an employee’s sick leave only if such an employee participates in the system of sickness insurance and is registered in the insurance sickness register. Recruitment of new employees should therefore be notified to the responsible CSSZ as soon as possible, by a form called „Notification of new employment“. If the data uploaded into the system by the doctor fails to identify an insured employee, the employer will receive the notification only after the e-sick note has been manually processed by the CSSZ.
Employers may register for services provided by the CSSZ ePortal either via their data mailboxes or by using one of the methods offered by the National Identity Authority („NIA“ – may be created free of charge at eidentita.cz).
Employers may authorize an employee or another individual or legal entity (e.g. a payroll provider) to use the CSSZ ePortal on behalf of them. Such authorization must be granted via a special service available at the CSSZ ePortal (available to registered clients) or via an interactive form. The authorized person may then access the services using their data mailbox login or one of the NIA tools. If the authorized person is a legal entity, it must further authorize an individual to act on behalf of it.
The service should contain data on individual employees (based on their birth number) or generate a list of all employees of a given employer who the CSSZ at the given moment registers as being on a sick leave.
Sending requests for the CSSZ ePortal services should be possible from December 2019. However, registered employers should already now be able to view their employees on sick leave using a service called Information on sick leaves.
Employer’s obligations after receiving an e-sick note
Under the new system, no part of the decision on a sick leave will be issued for the employer’s use.
Employers will excuse the employees’ absence at work and pay them compensation during the first 14 days of the sick leave on the basis of electronic data received from the CSSZ. Employees will be able to prove the existence and duration of their sick leave by submission of a „Card of an employee unfit for work” at any time during the course of the sick leave and after its end. The Card will be kept by the employee, which is different from today’s practice when the sick note is handed over to the employer.
It will be possible to upload data on the beginning, duration and end of a sick leave to payroll programmes (online via VREP, or via import of an XML file). A sick leave processing work module should be added into the programmes in the course of 2020.
Reporting changes in the course of the sick leave
Doctors will electronically announce to the OSSZ any changes occurring in the course of the sick leave – e.g. change of address, referral to another doctor, change of permitted outings. Employers may learn about such changes via the CSSZ ePortal.
Employer’s obligations after the end of a sick leave
Sick leave not exceeding 14 days
Should the doctor in the first 14 days of the sick leave establish that the employee is again fit for work, the employer will take steps described below in sec. “End of sick leave”.
If the employer asked to be notified of its employees’ sick leaves (please, see sec. “Information available to employers via the CSSZ ePortal” above), a notification will be sent to the employer’s data mailbox or email address immediately after the threating physician sends the notification to the CSSZ.
Certified information on the end of the sick leave will also be available at the CSSZ ePortal.
Employers will pay compensation of income during the employee’s sick leave on the basis of this information.
Sick leave exceeding 14 days
After 14 days of sick leave, the doctor will notify the CSSZ that the employee’s temporary unfitness for work continues. This information will also be recorded in the Card of an employee unfit for work. No other document will be issued for the employer (“money vouchers“ will no longer exist).
Employers who requested sending of notifications will also receive this information by a data message sent to their data mailbox. Certified information may be accessed at the CSSZ ePortal.
After the first 14 days of the sick leave, employers will immediately send an electronic Attachment to an application for sickness benefit which will contain data necessary for the calculation of the sickness benefit. The employer will also fill in the employee’s bank account number or state another payment method used for the payment of the employee’s salary and send the form electronically to an address indicated by the district branch of the Social Security Administration. Documents serving as bases for deductions from the sickness benefits may be sent both electronically and by mail.
Until the 14th day of the sick leave, the sickness benefit is paid to the employee by the employer. From the 15th day on, the benefit is paid by the CSSZ.
After the employee returns to work, the employer is obliged to send an electronic notification of the employee’s conduct of work on the last day of the sick leave or during the sick leave.
Based on the notification received from the doctor and the employer, the OSSZ will make a calculation of the sickness benefit. Sickness benefits will be paid to employees by the same method as salary or other remuneration, unless an employee asks for another payment method. If the employee’s salary is paid in cash, by postal service to an address abroad, or by a transfer to a financial institution other than a bank located abroad, the sickness benefit will be paid by a payment method indicated by the employee.
End of sick leave
When a doctor establishes that the employee is again fit for work, he/she will issue a decision on the end of the sick leave. The doctor may either use his/her medical software or log in to the CSSZ ePortal where he/she will select the case of sick leave he/she intends to terminate and the data on the case will upload automatically.
The doctor will then issue the third part of the e-sick note – Notification of the end of a sick leave, which will contain the final diagnosis, and send it electronically to the responsible CSSZ branch. At the same time, the doctor will record the end of the sick leave in the Card of an employee unfit for work.
Employers who asked to be notified about sick leaves (see sec. “Information available to employers via the CSSZ ePortal above”), will be notified by email or by a data message immediately after the doctor sends the notification to the CSSZ.
At the same time, the doctor will record the end of the sick leave in the Card of an employee unfit for work. Employers who asked to be sent notifications will be immediately notified that the sick leave has been terminated. Certified information about the end of the sick leave will be available at the CSSZ ePortal.
What about sick notes issued before the end of 2019?
Sick notes issued on the current 5-part form before 31 December 2019 will continue to be documented in the old way, i.e. they will contain a part intended for the employer and a part intended for the SSZ, which will be sent to the SSZ by the employer.
In case of the „old“ sick note, i.e. a doctor’s decision on temporary unfitness for work issued prior to 1 January 2020, the employer will be able to choose and send to the CSSZ either a form called Attachment to application NEMPRI18 or the new form called Attachment to application NEMPRI20. However, in case of an e-sick note, i.e. a decision issued after 1 January 2020, employers will be obliged to use the new form of Attachment to application NEMPRI20.
For other sickness benefits, the current processes remain unchanged. The new legal regulation does not affect processes used for the payment of maternity benefits, paternity benefits, carer’s benefits, long-term carer’s benefits or compensatory allowance during pregnancy and motherhood, or processes concerning mandatory quarantine.