Czech government may reintroduce unpaid sick leave

The step could part of a package to reduce the government's spiraling debt.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 11.04.2023 09:52:00 (updated on 11.04.2023) Reading time: 1 minute

Unpaid sick leave may be among the measures to help lower Czechia’s state debt, an aide to Prime Minister Petr Fiala told CNN Prima News in a debate show over the weekend. The idea is opposed by trade unions.

The measure would call for salary compensation not to be paid in the first days of an illness, Fiala’s aide economist Štěpán Křeček said.

Unpaid sick leave in the first three days of the illness was introduced in 2008. The previous government led by ANO’s Andrej Babiš and the Social Democrats (ČSSD) canceled it in July 2019.

Since then, employers have started paying 60 percent of the base salary to sick employees from the first day of illness.

Employees don’t entirely foot the bill, given that social security contributions for them are reduced by 0.2 percent, from 25 to 24.8 percent. This costs the government billions of crowns in lost income per year.

Josef Středula, the chairman of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (ČMKOS), said the possibility of losing income would make people keep working when they are ill, which would worsen their health and eventually increase the costs.

The national debt is rapidly growing and the coalition government is discussing measures to curb the rising deficit.

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Finance Minister Zbyněk Stanjura later this month plans to unveil a package of steps, which may include the renewal of unpaid sick leave.

"I would say this is one of the measures that may be introduced," Křeček said."We are not thinking about any revolution, we just want to reverse this."

He added that in the past years, several measures had been adopted that increased government expenditures.

Křeček said unpaid sick leave had saved public money and prevented cheating.

"This is undignified towards those who are ill," Středula said, adding that it was up to the doctors to determine who was ill or not.

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