In the event of sickness

Sickness benefits in the Nordic countries concern wage or benefits in the event of absence from employment due to sickness. In the event of sick leave, employers in all the Nordic countries are obligated to pay compensation in the form of sickness benefits.

On sickness benefits

Sickness benefits in the Nordic countries concern wage and cash benefits in the event of sick leave. The benefit schemes vary between countries. In principle everyone in employment is entitled to compensation however, the rules governing compensation depend on the type of employment and the individual’s position on the labour market.

In the event of sick leave, employers in all the Nordic countries are obligated to pay compensation, in either the form of paying the regular wage (or reduced wage called sick pay in Sweden) or sickness benefits. This first period of the sick leave is known as the employer period.

After the statutory employer period, the sickness benefit is covered either by the public authorities, by social insurance schemes or still by the employer. If the sickness benefit is still covered by the employer, the employer pays the employee’s regular wage, but receive sickness benefit reimbursement from the public authorities.

Employees not entitled to sickness benefits during the employer period are compensated according to general rules in each of the countries from the beginning of the period of sick leave.

Please refer to the section on Paid absence due to sickness, for more specific information on rules in each of the Nordic countries.

The calculated compensation rates for single persons compare the income level after receiving sickness benefit with the income level from work. The income level compared is at 75% of the average wage.

Compensation rates in the event of sickness

The calculated compensation rates, shown in the figure, concern a single person without children drawing sickness benefits, using the average worker (AW) income levels of 75 % of the average wage as baseline.

Please refer to the database, to investigate the compensation rates relative to other income levels.

The figure shows, that the rules in Norway compensate the most, with 100 per cent compensation of previous income. The lowest compensation in the event of sickness at AW75 is in Finland, at 64 per cent of the previous income. 

In all the Nordic countries, except Iceland, the compensation rate by which the previous level of income is covered by sickness benefits decrease as income level increase. The differences in compensation rate between the lowest and the highest income levels are largest in Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

At the highest incomes, Denmark followed by Finland, has the lowest compensation rates. The highest compensation rates are found in Iceland and Norway. At the lowest incomes, Sweden has the lowest compensation rate, about 30 percentage point lower than Faroe Islands and Norway which have a compensation rate of 100 per cent.