Sick Leave in Germany 2023

lesley rudolph

Lesley Rudolph

December 14, 2023 • 3 minutes read

Every year, health insurance companies provide an overview of sick leave in the country throughout the entire year. This year, DAK states that they expect a total of 20 sick days per insured individual, significantly more than during the peak of the pandemic.

Krankenstand in Deutschland 2023

Health Insurance Comparison

Specifically, DAK reports a sick leave rate of five percent in the third quarter of 2023. This is even higher than the 4.7 percent from the same period last year. And DAK is not alone in this; the Techniker Krankenkasse reports a sick leave rate of 5.1 percent over the first ten months of the year, and Barmer registers a 10 percent increase in sick leave.

Sick Leave and Its Causes

The main reason for the high number of sick days is primarily the common cold, which also includes influenza infections or bronchitis. However, mental health diagnoses and musculoskeletal system issues, such as back pain, closely follow.

At the same time, the introduction of the electronic reporting procedure this year plays a role. This makes the recording of sick leave much more accurately reflected than before.

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RSV Infections and Coronavirus

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections are currently high on the list, especially among children. This is an acute respiratory tract illness that usually requires hospital treatment. There was already an RSV wave last autumn, leading to partial overloads in clinics and hospitals.

Risk groups include premature infants, adults over 65 years, and people with compromised immune systems. Although children are especially susceptible to RSV, individuals of all ages can become infected.

Starting with a cold, the throat can become inflamed, leading to coughing and sneezing accompanied by fever. Pneumonia is often a result of the illness. Currently, the RKI also reports a high number of COVID-19 infections and colds caused by rhinoviruses.

Termination during Sick Leave

In principle, Section 1 of the Protection Against Unfair Dismissal Act (KSchG) applies as long as the employee has been with the company for more than six months in a business with more than ten employees. Termination is only possible under certain conditions in the case of illness.

For a termination during sick leave to be effective, the labor court checks the following criteria: there must be unreasonable absenteeism, no improvement is expected in the future, and the balance of interests must favor the employer.

Unreasonable absenteeism occurs when employees are absent for six weeks or longer in a year, as this can affect the company operationally and economically. It does not matter whether the six weeks are consecutive or interrupted sick leave.

Regarding the balance of interests, factors such as the duration of the employment relationship, the cause of the illness, the absenteeism of comparable employees, and the age of the respective employee play a role.

In any case, employees must decide within three weeks of receiving the termination whether they want to take legal action against it. This would result in a dismissal protection lawsuit.

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