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Health Policy ; 126(7): 619-631, 2022 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1926473


The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the importance of social protection systems, including income security, when health problems arise. The aims of this study are to compare the follow-up regimes for sick-listed employees across nine European countries, and to conduct a qualitative assessment of the differences with respect to burden and responsibility sharing between the social protection system, employers and employees. The tendency highlighted is that countries with shorter employer periods of sick-pay typically have stricter follow-up responsibility for employers because, in practice, they become gatekeepers of the public sickness benefit scheme. In Germany and the UK, employers have few requirements for follow-up compared with the Nordic countries because they bear most of the costs of sickness absence themselves. The same applies in Iceland, where employers carry most of the costs and have no obligation to follow up sick-listed employees. The situation in the Netherlands is paradoxical: employers have strict obligations in the follow-up regime even though they cover all the costs of the sick-leave themselves. During the pandemic, the majority of countries have adjusted their sick-pay system and increased coverage to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 because employees are going to work sick or when they should self-quarantine, except for the Netherlands and Belgium, which considered that the current schemes were already sufficient to reduce that risk.

COVID-19 , Pandemics , Employment , Follow-Up Studies , Humans , Sick Leave
Saf Health Work ; 13(3): 350-356, 2022 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1783750


Background: Although sick leave is a complex phenomenon, it is believed that there is potential for prevention at the workplace. However, little is known about this potential and what specific measures should be implemented. The purpose of the study was to identify perceived reasons to take work-related sick leave and to suggest preventive measures. The study was completed before the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, and the risk factors identified may have been amplified during the pandemic. Methods: An in-depth cross-sectional survey was conducted across a randomly selected sample of hospital nurses in Norway. The national sample comprised 1,297 nurses who participated in a survey about their sick leave during the previous 6 months. An open-ended question about perceived reasons for work-related sick leave was included to gather qualitative information. Results: Among hospital nurses, 27% of the last occurring sick leave incidents were perceived to be work-related. The most common reasons were high physical workload, high work pace, sleep problems, catching a viral or bacterial infection from patients or colleagues, and low staffing. Conclusions: Over a quarter of the last occurring sick leave incidents among Norwegian hospital nurses are potentially preventable. To retain and optimize scarce hospital nursing resources, strategies to reduce work-related sick leave may provide human and financial benefits. Preventive measures may include careful monitoring of nurses' workload and pace, optimizing work schedules to reduce the risk of sleep problems, and increasing staffing to prevent stress and work overload.