10 min czytania 15 June 2023

Sick leave, or L4 – what do you need to know?

Sick leave is a document that allows an employee to take temporary rest due to illness or injury. Sometimes it is the only option to take care of your health and speed up your return to work. What are the rules for receiving sick leave, or L4? What are the rights and obligations of the employee and employer in this situation? Check out what you should know about sick leave, or L4! 👇

sick leave


What is a L4?

A L4 is nothing more than a sick leave. It is a document that is issued by a doctor to justify absence from work due to incapacity. It is due to every person with an employment contract. A sick leave can only be obtained from a doctor who, after appropriate examinations, determines that the employee is unable to work due to illness or injury. A L4 can be valid from a few days to even a few months, depending on the severity of the illness and the doctor’s recommendations. When a doctor issues a L4, the employer does not see the reason for it. If we receive a sick leave, we can check it electronically. The Electronic Services Platform – PUE ZUS allows us to do so, and we can log in to it using, among other things, the Trusted Profile.

The rules for granting sick leave are set out in the Act of 25 June 1999 on cash benefits from social insurance in the event of sickness and maternity (Journal of Laws of 1999, No. 60, item 636, as amended).

The L4 is a formal document, therefore the employer cannot force the employee to work during the leave.

How long can you be on L4, or sick leave?

Most people do not know how long they can be on sick leave. The maximum sick time an employee can receive for treatment is 6 months (182 days). The exceptions are pregnancy or tuberculosis – they extend the period up to 270 days. If six months is not enough to recover, another 12 months can be applied for. Its granting is decided by a doctor from the Social Insurance Institution.

In each subsequent year, the limit of days on L4 is renewed. An employee on sick leave can be controlled by the employer or the Social Insurance Institution if it has suspicions that he or she is breaking the law. When an employee abuses the sick leave, using it for a purpose other than recovery – the employer can terminate the employment contract without notice through the employee’s fault.

Who can issue sick leave?

A L4 can be issued by a GP, a specialist doctor, a dentist and a doctor in a hospital. However, the situation becomes a little more complicated if we use private services. We do not always have the opportunity to use the services of the National Health Service, as there are often large queues. The question then arises, can a private doctor issue an L4 leave? This depends on a number of factors, but in most situations such a doctor cannot issue a release. In order for this to happen, the doctor must have a contract with the Social Insurance Institution.

E-ZLA – electronic sick leave

L4 is issued electronically. It first goes to the Social Insurance Office, then to the employer. The employee himself should notify the employer immediately if he does not show up for work. Since 1 December 2018, it has been possible to issue a sick leave online. The E-ZLA – i.e. the electronic sick leave – goes automatically to the employer after being issued by the doctor. All exemptions are also uploaded to the PUE ZUS platform, where they can be checked.

Read also: RODO – what is it?

sick leave

What if the sick leave has not reached the employer?

Very rarely, but it can happen that sick leave does not reach the employer. This could be due to a bad internet connection, a breakdown or interruption in the operation of the ICT system. It is a good idea to have access to the PUE ZUS platform, where you can check information on your sick leave. If an E-ZLA is not generated, the doctor should be notified – he or she must issue a paper exemption. The obligation to inform ZUS still lies with the doctor. He or she must provide such information within 3 days. It is up to the employee to inform the employer within 7 days of receiving the paper l4.

The doctor may only issue a paper sick leave in emergency situations. These include, for example: lack of access to the internet, breakdown of the IT system.

It happens that the employer does not have an account on the PUE ZUS platform. In such cases, he or she cannot see the dismissals issued. This is possible if he employs up to 5 people in his company. In such a case, the employee must provide the dismissal in paper form.

L4 not delivered to the employer – consequences

Through automation, redundancies fall into the employer automatically. It will therefore rarely happen that they do not reach the supervisor. If the employee has not provided the leave on time, his or her L4 pay may be reduced. The employee has up to 7 days to do this. If he or she fails to do so, on the 8th day his or her sick leave pay will be reduced by 25%. When the employee’s health condition does not allow him to provide the L4 – he is not obliged to do so. This can be done by a loved one or family.

Can a L4 be issued retrospectively?

Usually, sick leave is issued on the day the employee is examined. According to the law, it is possible to issue an L4 release with a retroactive date. This is done in certain situations, the condition must indicate that the employee was already unfit for work before. The doctor can issue such a certificate up to a maximum of 3 days back. The decision to issue it depends solely on the doctor.

The situation is different if the sick leave is issued by a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist can then issue the sick leave more than 3 days in advance. This is the case if the psychiatrist has diagnosed a mental disorder that impaired the employee’s ability to assess his or her own performance.

What pay on L4?

The amount of sick pay for the period of sick leave is governed by regulations from the Labour Code. The employer must pay the employee sick pay for the period of incapacity to work for 33 days during the calendar year. The amount of remuneration depends on the reason for the sick leave.

The amount of pay and the reason for incapacity to work:

  • 80% – illness, seclusion due to infectious disease,
  • 100% – illness during pregnancy, accident at work or on the way to work, medical examination in connection with candidacy as a cell donor.

Read also: Maternity leave

sick leave

Sick leave and sick pay

Sickness benefit is paid to the employee from the 34th day (or from the 15th day for those over 50) of sick leave. These benefits are paid by the Social Insurance Office, so sick pay is payable to insured persons. Up to the 33rd day of sick leave, sick pay is paid by the employer.

Contract of mandate and sick leave

The right to sick leave is given to any employee with an employment contract. This possibility also exists for those working on a contract of mandate. It is up to the employee whether he or she wishes to be covered by sickness insurance. The employee must submit the appropriate application for registration with the Social Insurance Institution to the employer. Contributions must be taken from the salary continuously for 90 days to be eligible for L4. Sickness benefit is not paid out of the principal’s funds and is paid by the Social Security from the beginning.

Sick leave for a child

It is possible to get sick leave when your child is ill. This is then a care allowance. It can be used by both the mother and the father. In order to be eligible, a parent must be covered by health insurance. Carer’s allowance is granted for a child who is born, adopted or fostered. Sick leave will not be granted to a parent if there is someone at home who could take care of the child.

Sick leave is time to recuperate and recover. Employees deserve support and understanding from their employers during this time. It is important to remember that L4 is only available to those with health insurance.

During sick leave, the employee is not obliged to work and, at the same time, the employer cannot require the employee to perform duties. The employee is entitled to remuneration for the period of illness or injury, in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Labour Code.

See also: Special leave