30.08.2022 Labour law

[Poland] Foreign sick leave – does it entitle to sick pay?

In the event of illness or accident, is an employee who is abroad entitled to sick pay under the general rules? What elements does a sick leave from abroad have to contain in order to justify absence from work? 

Sick leave issued abroad – what requirements?

An employee on holiday or working remotely abroad may suffer an accident or fall ill and thus receive foreign sick leave. When does sick leave issued outside Poland meet the requirements and entitle to sick pay?

First of all, the most important issue is the form of the document provided to an employer. In Poland, electronic sick leave (e-ZLA) is widely accepted. However, foreign sick leave must be sent in a paper form, as the ZUS PUE system is not compatible with systems in other EU and non-EU countries.

Secondly, what matters is the delivery of an original document entitling absence from work. While in Poland, sick leave issued in the system no longer has to be delivered to employers by a specific deadline, foreign sick leave must be sent immediately in the original to both the employer and the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS), and the correctly issued document should be dated no more than three days back.

Important: documents entitling to the payment of sickness benefit in paper form can be sent to any ZUS office via a postal services operator.

Information on an employee’s incapacity for work can also be provided by the employee’s family or relatives, but it is worth noting that this should be done as soon as possible. If, on the other hand, there are circumstances preventing the provision of such information, then it is accepted to notify within a maximum of two days following the cessation of the circumstances that prevented the provision of such information.

What is also relevant is the fact that a sick leave issued abroad does not have to be translated into Polish, as long as it was issued within the territory and in the official languages of the countries:

  • the Member States of the European Union,
  • the Member States of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation, parties to international agreements on social security to which the Republic of Poland is a party.

Moreover, the certificate of a foreign medical centre or foreign doctor should include:

  • name of the foreign medical centre or the name of the foreign doctor, date of issue and signature;
  • initial and final date of work incapacity.

A sick pay benefit is granted to an employee under the general rules, irrespective of the fact whether the employee’s incapacity for work is diagnosed by a doctor abroad or in Poland.

Foreign sick leave – what are the obligations of employers?

Sick leave from abroad has been provided, what should an employer bear in mind in such a situation?

Under the regulations, it is the employer’s responsibility to verify the correctness of the sick leave issued. This verification consists of determining whether:

  • the employee is not performing remunerated work during the sick leave period or
  • whether he or she is not using sick leave contrary to its purpose.

If there are serious doubts, employers may also request an inspection from ZUS.

If, on the other hand, the inspector identifies misuse, he/she will draw up a report containing the findings and describing what the misuse of sick leave consisted of. These findings will then constitute the basis for a possible non-payment of sick leave benefit. The decision not to pay the benefit is always taken by the Social Insurance Institution.

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