2.03.2023 ZUS

[Poland] Sick leave – 500 thousand ZUS inspections in 2023

In 2023, the Social Insurance Institution plans to carry out 500 000 inspections of employees who are on L4, nearly 70 000 more than the year before. This is a response to the increasing amount of sick leaves.

The more L4s, the more ZUS inspections

According to the ZUS data, up to 27 million medical certificates of temporary inability to work were registered in Poland in 2022, for a total of 288.8 million days. In comparison, in 2021, medical practitioners issued 20.5 million medical certificates and the total number of days of absence from work resulting from these certificates amounted to 239.9 million.

The ZUS report shows that the most common cause of absence from work in 2022 was diseases of the skeletal, muscular and connective tissue systems (16.4 per cent of all absences). Next were pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium (15.7 per cent), respiratory diseases (14.2 per cent), injury and poisoning (13.3 per cent) as well as mental and behavioural disorders (10 per cent).

Due to the increasing number of certificates of temporary inability to work issued, ZUS is increasing the number of inspections regarding the proper use of L4. In 2022, the total number of inspections amounted to 429.9 thousand, and the total amount of reduced and withdrawn monetary benefits from social insurance for sickness and maternity amounted to over PLN 153.3 million.

For 2023 ZUS has scheduled 500 000 sick leave inspections, nearly 15% more than the year before. The decision is dictated by both the increasing number of sickness absences and the end of the pandemic period, which made verification of L4s and visits to insured people’s homes difficult.

Electronic sick leave (e-ZLA) and L4 inspections

Sick leaves have only been issued in electronic form, or e-ZLA, since 1 December 2018. Electronic sick leave, according to ZUS, provides better insight into both the reasons for absence from work as well as more necessary statistical data to plan future inspections with more accuracy.

Basically, e-ZLA consists of replacing traditional sick leaves in paper form with electronic equivalents. Once the medical practitioner issues an e-ZLA, the payer of contributions receives such an e-ZLA made available by ZUS on its profile on PUE ZUS no later than on the day following the day of receipt of the e-ZLA. It is worth mentioning that the version made available to the payer does not contain the statistical number of the insured’s illness. Read also: As from 1 January 2023, obligation to have an account on PUE ZUS

On the payer’s/employer’s PUE ZUS profile, there is a special place where electronic sick leaves of employees are visible, and thanks to the PUE ZUS profile, the employer can also quickly electronically apply to the ZUS for an inspection of the correctness of issuing L4.

The detailed procedure and rules for carrying out these inspections are set out in the regulations of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of 27 July 1999.

Generally, the inspection of the correctness of the use of L4 is to determine whether:

  • an employee is not in gainful employment during the period of sick leave, or
  • whether he or she is not using sick leave in a manner incompatible with its purpose.

An employer may carry out an inspection:

  • at the workplace,
  • at the place of residence,
  • at the place of temporary residence,
  • at another place if this is appropriate.

However, it is important to comply with the regulations, including the Personal Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), when carrying out inspections. Learn more: GDPR compliance monitoring

The person carrying out the inspection may not require the inspected person to provide information about the health condition or the reason that caused the inability to work. According to the latest ZUS guidelines, not every absence of an employee from his or her place of residence or stay during an inspection must be considered as a reason to deny the right to benefits. Indeed, there is a possibility that it was justified and this should be verified first.

L4 and sick pay

Sick pay is provided to persons registered for sickness insurance, and the basis for payment of this benefit is an L4, i.e. a sick leave issued in the form of an electronic e-ZLA by a medical practitioner.

The right to sick pay paid by an employer out of its funds shall be granted to employees, persons working under outwork contracts or persons on substitute service for a period of work incapacity lasting up to a total of 33 days in a calendar year and, if the person concerned is over 50 years of age, for a total of up to 14 days.

Then from the 34th or 15th day of incapacity for work in a calendar year respectively, sickness benefit financed by the Social Insurance Fund is granted.

Moreover, sick pay is provided for the period of incapacity for work, not exceeding:

  • 182 days,
  • 270 days – if the incapacity for work is caused by tuberculosis or if the incapacity for work occurs during pregnancy.

The amount of sick pay depends on the cause of incapacity and amounts to respectively:

  • 80% – for illness or seclusion in connection with a contagious disease,
  • 100% – for illness during pregnancy, accident on the way to or from work, undergoing a medical examination in connection with candidacy as a cell, tissue and organ donor and or the procedure for the removal of these organs, an employee was in hospital during this period.

Read also: Minimum remuneration in 2023 – government has adopted a regulation

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