Illness and severance pay

When a public employee is absent from work due to due to illness or accidents it is possible to grant them a release from their post/employment in accordance with clauses in the collective wage agreements. There are similar rules that apply to civil servants in the Government Employees Act, No. 70/1996 (see article 30).

When an employee is released from their employment based on this legal provision the employee keeps their unchanged pay for three months after the decision. The same applies to pay to the surviving spouse of the deceased civil servant or state employee.

There can be three reasons that affect releases from employment due to illness. Those reasons will be further explained.

Illness and severance pay

  • Release from employment due to long-term incapacity for work

    If an employee has been absent continuously from work due to illness or accident and has used all his rights to sick leave wages, they can be relieved from their employment. An employee in this situation should seek assistance from their union to find out about their rights to compensation from the union’s sick pay fund before a severance pay comes into effect. It is possible to release an employee earlier when a medical certificate clarifies that there is no hope for a full recovery or return to work.

  • Release from employment due to repeated incapacity for work

    If an employee has repeatedly been absent for months due to illness for a period of five years and nothing that indicated that their health will get better, they can be released from work due to illness

    This provision is less clear than the one mentioned above and therefore harder to assess. But the absence of the employee must be significant for this provision to be even considered.

  • The employee himself wishes to be released

    If an employee is permanent absent from work due to illness and has a doctor’s certificate attesting their poor health and low probability of recovery they can wish to be released from his employment. When this procedure is chosen, the severence pay payment can come into effect without delay after the employee has used up their sickness days. It is recommended that the employee contacts their union to find out whether they still have some rights to sickness benefits from the union before they ask for a release from employment because of incapacity to work.

  • To release someone from employment or an appointed post is an act of administration

    To release a government employee or civil servant is an act of administration according to the Administrative Procedure Act, No. 37/1993 . Therefore the employee has the right to be heard and other rules of the act must be carefully adhered to. As an example there is a Supreme Court judgement 236/2012 where a prison warden was released from his post because of long-time illness. Prison wardens are civil servants according to the Government Employees Act, No. 70/1996. He was not given the opportunity to express his views on the matter or was the rule of investigation prosecuted, so his rights to be heard was violated as well as other rules that apply. Accordingly his dismissal was judged wrongful, and he was paid compensation.

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