Think-Tank IDEA: "Sick Pay: What Impact Did the Introduction of a Waiting Period Have?"

27 January, 2022

In their most recent study, Lucie Zapletalová and Jakub Grossmann from think-tank IDEA analyze the impacts of a waiting period for sick pay introduced in 2008 in the Czech Republic due to employment absence, sick leave, and other types of absences from the workplace.

The new waiting period meant that employees did not receive any sickness benefits ('sick pay') for the first three days of sick leave. The waiting period should discourage employees from claiming sick pay unnecessarily and thereby reduce sickness benefit expenditures. However, the measure also discourages employees from taking sick leave when they are unwell and may potentially increase the risk of contagion in the workplace. 

The study found that among employees exposed to a flu epidemic for one week, the number of days of sick pay claimed decreased after the introduction of the waiting period by 6.7 days on average. However, this reduction was almost entirely compensated for by an increase in claims for the number of days of paid holiday and unpaid leave. The total number of days of absence thus remained practically unchanged after the introduction of the waiting period.

Despite this reduction in sick leave taken and sick pay claimed, there is no reason to assume that the new waiting period increased flu transmission or increased contagion in the workplace since the reduction in sick leave was offset by an increase in other types of absences. 

The Czech Academy of Sciences supported Think-Tank IDEA's production of "Sick pay: what impact did the introduction of a waiting period have?" as part of its AV21 Strategy program "Society in Motion and Public Policies." The full study (in Czech) is available on Think-Tank IDEA's website.

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