Wednesday, May 18

NHO association disappointed that they have to pay for sick leave

One of the largest national associations in NHO believes that employers in practice will be left with the entire bill for the wave of sickness absence that is now washing over the country.

NOT SATISFIED: Anne-Cecilie Kaltenborn, CEO of NHO Service og Handel.

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NHO Service og Handel is pleased that no longer required that it should be arranged for home office, but they are not satisfied that the employers – as they see it – have to pay for all employees who now go down for counting with omikron.

– This is deadly for companies that experience one wave after another of employees who get periods of absence that are about exactly as long as what we have to pay for. The companies thus do not benefit from the state’s offer, says Anne-Cecilie Kaltenborn, CEO of NHO Service og Handel.

This is NHO’s second largest national association with 7,400 member companies and 87,500 man-years.

Before the pandemic, Norwegian employers paid for the first 16 sick days, after which the state took over, she says. This was gradually changed so that the state took the bill after three days.

– From October 1 until December 1, when there were signs of normalization in society, we were back in 16 days, says Kaltenborn. This was again reduced to five days on 1 December.

– It is a meager consolation for the companies that the state takes over the cost after five days. In reality, this means that the employer takes virtually the entire bill for the corona absence. Our member surveys show that most coronary patients are away from work for less than five working days, says Kaltenborn.

– Increased normalization

But Labor and Inclusion Minister Hadia Tajik believes the government is doing enough.

– Usually the state takes the bill for sick leave after 16 days, and the employer until then. Now the state takes the bill for all corona-related sick leave after five days. There is a significant strengthening of the scheme. This is in addition to, among other things, wage support for struggling companies, and an extended redundancy period, she writes in an e-mail conveyed via the ministry’s communications department.

– Now the country is on its way into a situation where infection control measures will be eased. This will mean increased normalization of the financial measures as well, she adds.

ANSWER TO THE CRITICISM: Minister of Labor and Social Inclusion Hadia Tajik (Labor).

Kaltenborn in NHO Service and Handelun points out that it is especially the service and trade industry that is affected by the high sickness absence, because these are jobs that employees can not do from home offices and mention cleaners, canteen staff, hairdressers, shop employees and security guards.

– Not only do employers have to pay for absence, in addition they have to pay for temporary workers in these industries because the job has to be done physically in the workplace. This bill is getting so big now,
that it grows over the heads of many of our companies, says Kaltenborg, who fears bankruptcy.

High sickness absence

Figures obtained by the NHO association in December show that 64 per cent of the member companies experienced higher sickness absence than normal. And that in a situation where many industries are already struggling to get enough labor.

Virke, the main organization for the trade and service industry, also believes that the government should have reduced the employer period for sick leave to three days.

– To ease the burden for the companies through the most critical period, writes Ivar Horneland Kristensen, CEO of Virke, in an e-mail to VG.

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