Who pays my salary if they put me in quarantine or isolation for coronavirus? And what if my children are requested to stay at home and I cannot go to work because I must take care of them?
No doubt these are questions that many people have been asking these days in Finland. Especially since last weekend, when the number of Covid-19 cases increased and the authorities reported that there are about 130 children from a Helsinki school in quarantine. They may have been in contact with a child who has been diagnosed with the disease.
The big question is, can workers have access to sick leaves only if they have been diagnosed with coronavirus (or Koronavirus, as spelled in Finland), or also if they are placed in quarantine or isolation?
To clear up doubts, the Finnish Social Security Institution (Kela) has released a statement.
According to it, Kela pays sickness allowance on account of an infectious diseases to employees who have been ordered to stay away from work in order to prevent the spread of communicable diseases such as the novel coronavirus.
This sickness allowance is also available to the provider of a child under the age of 16 who is placed in quarantine, making it impossible for the provider to continue working while the quarantine is in effect.
According to Kela, there is no waiting period to qualify for the sickness allowance on account of an infectious disease, and the allowance provides full compensation for the loss of income suffered during a period of absence from, isolation or quarantine.
How the amounts are determined
"Full compensation," Kela says. This means that for employees the sickness allowance is determined on the basis of the salary they would have earned if they were able to continue working. So, basically it does not matter how big the salary is. Those who are lucky enough to earn 20,000 euros a month will be compensated accordingly.
In the case of private entrepreneurs or self-employed persons, the amount of the allowance is determined on the basis of their annual earnings under the Self-Employed Persons' (YEL) or Farmers' (MYEL) pensions act at the beginning of the absence.
Of course, it is not enough for one to say that one is sick. Payment of the allowance requires the affected people provide Kela with evidence of the disease.
This means they will have to show a decision from a physician in charge of infectious disease response for the municipality or hospital district which indicates that the affected person has been barred from work or placed in isolation or quarantine.
Now, the Social Security Institution and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health are investigating also the possibility of paying the allowance to people who are in isolation or quarantine abroad. This may be the case, for example, of people who have been isolated during holiday or other trips and have not been able to return to Finland to resume their work.