All individuals, including foreign citizens, employed in Poland under a contract of employment or a contract of mandate are registered with the Polish National Health Fund (NFZ) and entitled to healthcare benefits. Contributions to NFZ are deducted every month from the employee’s income.
Changes to sick leave certificates
Until recently, an employee’s sickness absence could only be certified by a doctor. From 1 October 2018, sick leave note (zwolnienie lekarskie) can be also issued by an authorised health professional such as a nurse or a paramedic. Polish employees cannot self-certify their illness in order to receive sick pay.
Sick pay is covered by an employer for a period not exceeding 33 days in a calendar year, or 14 days in a calendar year for employees who are over 50 years old. It is financed in the amount of:
- 80 per cent of the employee’s salary or
- 100 per cent of the salary if the absence results from a work-related accident (either at work and on the way to/from work), an illness during pregnancy or an examination or operation related to being an organ, cell or tissue donor.
Employees are obligated to submit their sick leave certificate to the employer no later than 7 days after the date of issue - otherwise the allowance will be reduced by 25 per cent. Currently, doctors usually produce a handwritten document, which then needs to be delivered to the workplace by the employee, either by post or in person. Such an obligation may naturally pose some problems for those patients who are advised to rest in bed.
From December 1, all sick leave notes will have to be issued digitally by doctors and uploaded to the Electronic Services Platform (PUE ZUS), which will allow for an easy access to the employee’s data as well as prevent possible frauds.
If the period of illness extends beyond the above-mentioned limits, the employee is entitled to receive a sickness allowance (zasiłek chorobowy) financed by the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS). The sickness allowance can be paid for a period of up to 182 days or 270 days if the incapacity to work is caused by tuberculosis or occurs during pregnancy.
The amount of sickness allowance usually equals the amount of sick pay. Additionally, hospitalised employees are entitled to an allowance in the amount of 70 per cent of their salary.
All employees acquire the right to sick pay and sickness allowance 30 days after being registered in the insurance scheme.