Incorrect use of L4 – what could the consequences be?
Incorrect use of L4 can have many negative consequences if the employer wishes to audit the employee. What can an employee on sick leave do? Is it possible to control an employee on L4? What does an employer’s control of sick leave look like? Incorrect use of sick leave – what could be the consequences?
Labour Code and sick leave
Sick leave is a certificate issued by a general practitioner or a specialist, which is mainly granted to people with an employment contract. People working on a contract of employment may also be entitled to it, but they must tell their employer. They may be entitled to L4, but only on condition that they have been insured for sickness for at least 90 continuous days. Some people opt out of this benefit in order not to reduce their salary, but they cannot then count on sick leave.
Sick leave is a certificate issued by a general practitioner or specialist, which is mainly granted to people with an employment contract. People working on a contract of employment may also be entitled to it, but they must tell their employer. They may be entitled to L4, but only on condition that they have been insured for sickness for at least 90 continuous days. Some people opt out of this benefit in order not to reduce their salary, but they cannot then count on sick leave.
It is important to remember that the date of incapacity to work is the date specified in the sick leave as the date of onset of the illness, not the day on which the employee actually stopped working.
If the employee does not have a medical certificate, then:
- Absence from work due to illness is not justified or excused.
- There is no basis for the payment of sick pay or sickness benefit. Good to know! If the doctor confirms that the employee was ill before the date of the examination, he/she may issue a medical certificate of incapacity for work with a date going back a maximum of 3 days. This limit does not apply if the sick leave is issued by a psychiatrist who suspects or establishes a mental disorder that limits the employee’s ability to assess his or her own health.
Incorrect use of L4
L4, or sick leave, is a certificate from a doctor stating that we are temporarily unable to work or need to take personal care of a sick family member. This means that during this time we cannot do additional work, go on holiday or take care of private matters.
Checking an employee on sick leave
In order to check whether an employee is misusing his or her L4 leave, the employer has the right to carry out a sick leave check. False sick leave is illegal and if the employer has certain suspicions about the employee, the employer can come to the employee’s home and check whether he is using the sick leave as intended.
The employer is entitled to carry out checks on L4 sick leave and is entitled to:
- pays remuneration for the period of incapacity to work due to illness under Article 92 of the Labour Code; he has the right to carry out this check for the period for which remuneration is due, even if he is not entitled to pay benefits,
- establishes entitlement to cash benefits from social insurance in the event of sickness and maternity and pays them to insured persons under the provisions of the Act of 25 June 1999, as it enrols more than 20 insured persons in sickness insurance.
Sick leave checks can be carried out by the employer itself, or it can outsource them to another employee or an external company.
The employer can control its insured person to whom it pays:
- salary for the period of incapacity for work,
- sick pay from sickness and accident insurance,
- care allowance,
- rehabilitation benefit from sickness and accident insurance.
Control from ZUS
When sickness benefit is paid by the Social Security, it has the possibility similarly to the employer to carry out a check of the employee on L4. Employees are constantly resorting to false sick leave and the Social Insurance Institution has the right to check that they are using it correctly.
ZUS conducts two types of checks on sick leave:
- control of what purpose the L4 leave is used for,
- control over the declaration of temporary inability to work.
In the latter type of control, the doctor verifies that the incapacity has been correctly declared and that the doctor had grounds for issuing the leave. The check can take place on the basis of the medical documentation that the doctor has issued.
Examples of abuse of sick leave
During L4, we should rest and recuperate at home. If we are occupied with other things at that time, abuse of sick leave can lead to unpleasant consequences. What are examples of abuse of L4?
- going out with friends,
- doing personal errands in government offices,
- going out on the town, to the cinema, to training, to a café, etc.
- going to the mall,
- going on holiday,
- doing renovations,
- working at another job,
- attending training, courses,
- avoiding work,
- need for rest without a specific illness.
So, is it possible to leave home during sick leave?
It all depends on the individual employee’s situation. Going grocery shopping or to the pharmacy tends to be necessary, while going clothes shopping or shopping for things that are not needed may be considered abusive.
Incorrect use of L4 – what could the consequences be?
Misuse of sick leave can lead to a number of unpleasant consequences that the Social Security or the employer will impose on the employee. When caught misusing L4, the Social Security has the possibility to:
- withdraw the sickness benefit,
- return the sickness benefit.
The employer, regardless of the decision of the ZUS, can:
- impose a reprimand, a financial penalty,
- dismiss the employee on disciplinary grounds,
- withhold the benefit.
Increasingly, employers are controlling their employees who have been issued with sick leave. In this way, they save on paying wages to disloyal employees. Checks are also carried out by the Social Insurance Institution. Working for pay while on sick leave or otherwise may adversely affect the employee. This is because he or she may lose his or her job or be forced to hand over money for the entire period of taking sick pay. It is therefore advisable to take L4 only if you have grounds for doing so.
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