Doctors in Germany can continue to grant sick leave by phone

Doctors in Germany can continue to grant sick leave by phone
A doctor filling out a sick note. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Paul Zinken
Doctors in Germany have been able to grant sick leave over the phone to some patients - rather than in person - since the pandemic began. Now the rule is being extended by three months.

In view of the fourth Covid wave, sick leave for patients with mild respiratory tract infections, such as a common cold, can be issued by GPs over the phone until the end of 2021. 

Usually people in Germany have to visit a doctor’s office in person to get a sick note that they can then submit to their employers if they need time off due to illness. 

The special regulation for issuing incapacity to work certificates via a telephone consultation was extended by three months, health insurance organisations and doctors decided Thursday. 

READ ALSO: The 10 rules you need to know if you get sick in Germany

The aim is to cut down on contact to minimise Covid infection risks – as well as relieve the burden on health workers. 

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Telephone sick leave for some patients is available for up to seven days and can also be extended by phone for an additional seven calendar days. To do so, doctors must carry out “in-depth telephone questioning” on the the patient’s health condition.

Under current German law (Entgeltfortzahlungsgesetz – the Continued Renumeration Act), an employee can stay home sick for up to three days without having to contact a doctor or presenting a note to their employer.

However, workplaces can have their own rules on sick leave so check with your boss if you’re unsure. 

Meanwhile, a special Covid rule on staffing is to be phased out of hospitals, reported broadcaster BR24. As of October 1st, requirements for a minimum number of nurses in certain wards – which had been suspended due to the Covid crisis – are to take effect again.

It means that minimum staffing levels have to be restored, particularly within critical areas such as the care of premature babies and children following heart surgery or cancer treatment.

Vocabulary 

Sick leave – (die) Krankschreibung

Incapacity to work certificate – (die) Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung or AU-Bescheinigung 

Covid special rule – (die) Corona-Sonderregelung

Be phased out – auslaufen

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