Sick leave Employer Liability
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What Every Employer Must Know About Sick Leave in Germany?

In Germany, employee well-being is a priority, even when they're on sick leave. Learn about pay during sick leave from legal obligations to creating a caring work environment. 

Sick leave is a critical aspect of employment, ensuring that employees have the necessary time to recover from illnesses without the fear of financial repercussions. In many jurisdictions, including those governed by the Remuneration Payment Act, specific regulations protect the rights of sick employees. This article provides an in-depth overview of the key aspects surrounding sick leave, employee rights, and employer responsibilities.

1. Sick Leave as an Exception to the "No Wage without Work" Principle

Traditionally, the principle of "no wage without work" dictates that employees are only entitled to payment for the time they actively work. However, in cases of sickness or incapacitation, this principle is superseded by exceptions that allow employees to receive remuneration even when they are unable to perform their duties.

2. Continued Sick Pay and Duration

The Remuneration Payment Act outlines the rights of sick employees to receive continued sick pay for a period of up to six weeks. During this time, employees are entitled to financial compensation despite their inability to work due to illness. This provision offers a safety net to employees during periods of sickness, ensuring they do not face financial hardships as a result of being unwell.

3. Reporting and Medical Certificates

Upon termination of sick leave, it is the responsibility of the employee to promptly report back to the employer. Additionally, the Remuneration Payment Act mandates that employees provide a medical certificate to their employer. This certificate becomes necessary after three consecutive days of illness. However, it is important to note that the terms of employment can deviate from this requirement, allowing employers to request a certificate of incapacity for work from the very first day of sickness.

Acknowledge and Document Sick Leave:Employers should acknowledge the notification of sick leave from their employees promptly. This acknowledgment can be in an email or a written response. It's essential to maintain accurate records of sick leave notifications and the corresponding dates.

4. Content of the Certificate of Incapacity for Work

The certificate of incapacity for work serves as a medical prognosis outlining the probable duration of illness-related inability to work. It is not a strict prohibition of employment, but rather an estimation at the beginning of the illness. Despite the prognosis, an employee's recovery can be either faster or slower than anticipated. Although a medical report is possible, there is no legal obligation for employees to provide such documentation.

Digital retrieve the electronic certificate of incapacity for work (eAU)
As an employer in Germany, you'll find it convenient to receive your employees' electronic certificates of incapacity for work (eAU) digitally. These digital certificates serve as official records when your employees are unable to work due to illness.  It simplifies the process of understanding and verifying the reasons for your employees' work absences.

5. Employer's Duty of Care

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees, particularly those who are unwell. If an employer is aware of an employee's incapacity to work, they are prohibited from assigning inappropriate tasks or allowing the employee to engage in work that could exacerbate their condition. In fact, employers may be required to discourage such employees from working in certain cases.

6. Insurance Coverage and Liability

Employees are typically insured for instances of sick leave, whether the incapacity is due to a commuting accident or an accident that occurs at the workplace. However, if an employer breaches their duty of care and allows an employee to work despite knowing their incapacity, any resulting accidents could shift liability from insurance coverage to the employer.

7. Consider Employee Privacy:

Respect employee privacy and confidentiality regarding their medical condition. Medical information is sensitive, and employers should only share it with those who need to be informed, such as HR personnel responsible for managing sick leave and payroll.

8. Document Everything:

Maintain thorough records of all sick leave-related communications, medical certificates, and any arrangements made during the sick leave period. This documentation helps in case of any disputes or legal issues.

By following these steps, German employers can fulfill their obligations while providing their employees with the necessary support and care during sick leave. This approach not only ensures legal compliance but also fosters a positive work environment where employees feel valued and supported.

Sick Pay Changes After Six Weeks of Illness

In Germany, when an employee falls ill, they receive their regular wages during the initial six weeks of their sickness. But, if their illness persists beyond these six weeks, there's a significant change. Starting from the 43rd day of being unwell, the responsibility for paying sick leave benefits shifts. At this point, the employer is no longer in charge of this task. Instead, the responsibility is transferred to the employee's health insurance, assuming they are covered under statutory health insurance. From day 43 of illness onwards, the health insurance provider takes over, making sure that employees still receive financial support even during extended illnesses. This shift emphasizes how vital health insurance is in providing financial security for employees dealing with prolonged health issues.


Simplify sick leave responsibilities with ConsultingHouse. From understanding exceptions to continued pay, we offer expert insights. We provide you with help to understand employer duties and payroll—all under one roof.