Working in Germany:10 rules you need to know if you fall ill
As the flu season and the ever-present threat of Covid loom, understanding the intricacies of dealing with illness in the workplace is crucial, especially in a country like Germany. Contrary to the “power through it” mentality, Germans have a distinct set of rules when it comes to falling ill. Here are the 10 rules you need to know if you fall ill while Working in Germany.
1. Inform Your Employer Promptly:
- Before heading to the doctor, inform your employer about your illness.
- Use legally recognized methods like email or fax.
- Ensure compliance to avoid official warnings or contract termination.
2. Krankmeldung vs. Krankschreibung:
- Provide a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) on the first day.
- Submit a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day, unless stated otherwise.
- Be aware of the fourth calendar day deadline for submitting the Krankschreibung.
3. Boss’s Right to Know:
- Since 2012, employers can request a sick note on the first day.
- Even for minor illnesses, visiting a doctor on the first day is advisable.
4. Entgeltfortzahlung – Your Right to Payment:
- Understand your right to continued payment (Entgeltfortzahlung) for a minimum of six weeks.
- Some employers may grant longer periods, typically mentioned in the employment contract.
5. Krankengeld for Extended Illness:
- If sick for more than six weeks, health insurance provides Krankengeld (sick money).
- Krankengeld is 70% of your salary for up to 78 weeks, contingent on a doctor’s declaration of unfitness to work.
6. Knowing Your Limits:
- While off work sick, heed your doctor’s advice on activities.
- Obtain a letter of permission for planned activities to avoid complications.
7. Saving Your Holiday:
- If falling ill during a planned holiday, report to your employer and submit a doctor’s note by the third day.
- The holiday can be reclaimed if the proper procedure is followed.
8. Getting the Sack:
- Employers can terminate an employee for excessive sick leave, but legal requirements are stringent.
- The employer must wait 24 months before assessing the employee’s ability to return to work.
9. Acting Quickly Against Termination:
- If terminated unfairly, file a claim with the regional labour court within three weeks.
- The burden of proof is on the employer, and successful cases often result in compensation.
10. Pulling a Sickie:
- Faking illness is highly discouraged, with immediate termination as a consequence.
- Even tardiness in submitting a sick note can lead to job loss, as seen in a case where a teacher lost her job due to a delayed sick note.
Understanding and adhering to these ten rules can make the experience of falling ill while working in Germany less daunting. From prompt communication with your employer to navigating the complexities of continued payment, these guidelines ensure a smooth process, maintaining trust and legality in the workplace.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I don't inform my employer before seeing a doctor in Germany?
Failure to inform your employer before the start of the workday may result in an official warning or contract termination. It is crucial to follow the proper communication channels.
When should I provide a doctor's note (Krankschreibung) in Germany?
Submit a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) on the first day but only provide a Krankschreibung (doctor's note) on the fourth day, unless your contract specifies an earlier submission.
Can my employer request a sick note on the first day of illness in Germany?
Yes, since 2012, employers have the right to request a sick note even on the first day. It's advisable to visit a doctor promptly, especially if your boss is of a trusting nature.
What is Entgeltfortzahlung, and how long am I entitled to it?
Entgeltfortzahlung refers to continued payment during illness. You are entitled to a minimum of six weeks, and some employers may grant up to three months. Check your employment contract for specific details.
Can I reclaim my holiday if I fall ill during a planned vacation in Germany?
Yes, as long as you report your illness to your employer and submit a doctor's note by the third day. This ensures that you retain your holiday entitlement despite falling ill.