Paid absence due to sickness

The wage and daily cash benefit schemes concerning sickness vary considerably from country to country. In principle, everyone in gainful employment is entitled to compensation in the event of loss of income.

The rules governing compensation depend on the individual’s position in the labour market. Employees are usually better covered than self-employed people, and special rules apply to unemployed people.

Employer period at the beginning of the period of sickness

At the beginning of a period of absence due to sickness, employers in all the Nordic countries have a statutory obligation to pay compensation, in the form of either statutory sick pay or sickness benefits. This is known as the employer period.

In all the countries, sickness benefits payable to employees are taxable. None offer a supplement for children.

Country specific rules on sickness benefits

Sick pay under collective agreements, etc.

As a supplement to the statutory employer or sick pay period, wages/salaries are payable during absence due to sickness under collective bargaining agreements or special rules governing the public sector.

Country specific supplement rules

Entitlement to sick leave in the Nordic countries

Varied rules applying to waiting periods in the Nordic countries

Other conditions regarding sickness benefits

In Finland, Iceland and Norway, sickness benefits are normally payable for a maximum of one year, which may be divided into several separate periods. In Finland, it is also possible to receive partial sickness benefits for between 12 and 120 working days, provided that the individual concerned works part-time and is on sick leave from a full-time job. In all the countries, sickness benefits are taxable.

More specific rules in part of the Nordic countries

Length of sickness periods

The length of sickness absence periods varies considerably from country to country. Since 2010, the shortest periods have been in Iceland, the longest in Norway. The figures have remained relatively constant in Denmark and Finland. A considerable decrease in absence due to sickness has been observed in Sweden since 2003, following a change in the rules and the introduction of an activity requirement in the sickness benefit scheme. However, this has also resulted in an increase in part-time absence due to sickness.

In all countries, women account for more of the absence due to sickness than men. 

Daily cash benefits in the event of industrial injury or occupational disease

In all countries, benefits are payable in the event of industrial injury or occupational disease. Short-term benefits may take the form of sickness benefits or equivalent benefits. In Finland, industrial injury benefits are payable, and usually correspond to the injured party’s normal wages.