Welfare Ministry proposes cutting sick leave benefits

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As a cost-cutting measure, the Welfare Ministry has proposed reducing the number of days people get paid sick leave. It proposes that sick leave will be compensated only starting from the fourth day of illness, reports LETA. 

The Welfare Ministry proposes that the employer covers the cost for the 4th to 11th day of sick leave with the State Social Security Agency paying for up to 26 weeks after that. The state currently covers sick leave payments starting from the 11th day of illness. 

Employees' salaries for the fourth and fifth day of sick leave are to be covered by 75% and days 6 to 11 by 80%.

The proposal was presented to the government in a memo admitting that, as sick leave benefits are cut, employees will feel forced to go to work feeling ill and may not be able to afford to go to the doctor as benefits are cut. 

The Welfare Ministry said the measures are introduced as there has been an increase of people taking sick leave.

It says 222,900 sick leaves were granted in 2014 but 276,400 in 2016 at a cost of €82.2m in 2014 and €134.8m in 2016.  

It is estimated that the measure will save the state around €4m in 2019, €4.5m in 2019 and €4.9m in 2020. 

Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis told LETA an agreement is expected over the matter on Thursday. 

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