Health Ministry issues new 'sick day' regulations

Employees can now get a sick day note for a four-day leave without having to see their doctor.

A doctor stands with stethoscope in this undated handout photo. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A doctor stands with stethoscope in this undated handout photo.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Employees will henceforth be able to receive their doctors’ authorization for up to four sick days without visiting the physician at his clinic, according to regulations issued by the Health Ministry.
Although the flexibility may induce some to claim a nonexistent sickness and get authorization by fax or email, not having to go to the clinic for a short, passing illness will save the health system a lot of money and reduce queues for seeing the doctor.
For short-term acute illnesses such as colds or an upset stomach there is no medical need to visit a doctor and usually there is no way for the doctor to check whether the patient is ill or just declares illness. In such situations, the physician may rely on the patient’s statement.
The ministry said on Wednesday that any health fund doctor is permitted to give authorization for sick leave and not only primary (family) physicians. While the cause of absence from work has to be noted in the electronic medical file, the reason for sick leave does not have to be put on the authorization given to the employer.
Long-term illness of more than 30 days will require the examination and approval of a physician who is an expert consultant in the relevant disease. The possibility of granting certificates after the patient recovers has been limited to cases in which the disease is documented or is a short illness (up to four days), which occurred 30 days before the patient came to the doctor and did not require a visit to the clinic for such a cure.
The guidelines are intended to create uniformity in the process of issuing sick-day certificates and in light of the long wait in the health fund clinics – to free up the time of doctors to treat patients actually in need of medical treatment, the ministry said.
The new rules, issued in a director-general’s circular, were written in consultation with the health funds and trade unions and “are based mostly on internal recommendations and norms that existed in the health funds until now,” the ministry said.