Due to the coronavirus situation, the general practitioner’s absenteeism due to a cold must be increased again by the end of the year. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) announced a similar decision by the federal joint health committee on Thursday in Berlin on Wednesday. The committee is composed of representatives of doctors, clinics and statutory health insurers. “Of course we want to prevent possible infections in the health system itself and in general practice with influenza and corona,” said Spahn.
Nationwide sick leave was already possible in the initial phase of the pandemic. It was later decided to allow this only regionally and for a limited time by exemption, depending on the occurrence of contamination.
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The federal commission had justified the expiry of the ordinance on May 31 on the fact that equipment with masks and other protective equipment was largely guaranteed. Many practices have hygiene concepts so that patients can benefit from medical care without exposing themselves to an increased risk of infection.
In March as much absenteeism due to illness as 20 years ago
The National Association of Statutory Health Insurers has recently called for a renewal of the scheme in the fall and winter, given the increasing number of coronavirus infections. The instrument had already significantly eased practice in March and April.
According to the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), as many employees reported sick in March as for twenty years. An evaluation by the health insurance company shows that the share of employees on sick leave was 6.84 percent. According to the information, the peak was 5.30 percent last year.
The main reason for the certificate of incapacity for work (AU) was cited as a cold, he said. The head of TK, Jens Baas, suspected that a large part of the above-average absenteeism can be explained by preventive absenteeism due to the corona pandemic. At the beginning of May, the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (GKV) reported that absenteeism had risen sharply during the coronavirus crisis.
From May onwards, AU numbers then dropped significantly
According to the AOK, the number of germs decreased significantly between May and August, according to an evaluation by the scientific institute (Wido) of the health insurance company. Accordingly, disease reports in TK were also at a “below average” level.
The head of the AOK Federal Association, Martin Litsch, suspects several reasons behind the decline. “On the one hand, many workers will avoid medical practices for fear of infection,” he said. “On the other hand, it is likely that the pandemic will reduce the risk of infection in general.” More people are working in the home office, reducing the risk of infection on the way to work and in the office. In addition, employees with minor illnesses such as the common cold prefer to stay at the home office and forgo sick leave.
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Litsch pointed out that since May there have been significantly fewer symptoms due to “acute upper respiratory infections”. “Clearly the recommendation was taken seriously to avoid the office even with mild cold symptoms.” And even before the pandemic, the trend was that “home office workers generally have fewer days off”. Litsch warned, however, that being able to work from home promotes the tendency to work despite illness. “Anyone who is sick should definitely take a break from work. There is no such thing as half sick, ”he said.
According to Wido, absenteeism was 4.4 percent in May, compared to 5.2 percent in the same month last year and 4.7 percent in May 2018. In June, 4.5 percent reported sick (2019: 4.8, 2018: 5 , 0 percent), in July 4.8 percent (2019: 5.0, 2018: 4.9 percent) and in August 4.4 percent (2018 and 2019 each 4.7 percent). According to Welt am Sonntag, figures from the Federal Ministry of Health also point to this trend. According to a monthly sample, 4.22 percent of workers were on sick leave in the first nine months, the lowest nine-month rate since 2017.
According to Wido, absenteeism due to illness has decreased significantly for both men and women. In May, for example, 4.4 percent of male employees and 4.5 percent of female employees were ill. In the same month last year, this was 5.1 percent of men and 5.3 percent of women. (dpa, teaspoon)