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The worker’s obligation to hand over medical leave notices to his or her company disappears but their control increases

In the next few days, the rule adopted by the Council of Ministers, whereby workers suffering medical leave – be it sickness or accident, inside or outside work – will no longer have to hand over to the company a copy of the communication produced by the doctor. They will not have to do so either if the leave continues and the optional opt-out decides to prolong the incapacity situation or when they finally receive the discharge.

Last Tuesday the government adopted the so-called royal decree introducing some modifications to the regulation of temporary incapacity processes in the first 365 days of this one. With this amendment, the Executive seeks to “eliminate bureaucratic obligations that unnecessarily prolong processes”.

With the previous regulation in hand, the worker received two copies of his part of temporary incapacity, confirmation of low or high and was obliged to hand one of them over to the company within a maximum of three days.

In the case of the discharge notice, the deadline was reduced to 24 hours. Now, this obligation disappears, and communication to the issuing entity (i.e. the doctor or the mutual who has certified disability) and the National Institute of Social Security (INSS) will be telematic. This will prevent ‘tramits which may prove to be onerous for people in temporary incapacity’.

The Executive seeks to avoid procedures that may prove costly for people in temporary disability

Similarly, the decree approved by the Executive – which will enter into force when published in the State Official Journal, which has not yet happened – introduces a clarification on the timescales for doctors to review leave.

The previous rule establishes four approximate periods of leave: one, when the leave is less than five natural days; the second, when it extends between five and 30; a third, when it extends between 31 and 60 days, and the fourth and last, for expected casualties of more than 61 days. Each of these four large groups has a maximum review period of its own.

Now, the new Executive decree makes it clear that doctors (whether from the company, the mutual health service or public health) will be able to set deadlines for the review of the losses below the ceilings set previously. The aim of this change is “to avoid interpretative doubts brought about by the current wording of the rule”, points out Social Security.

The amendment to the rule opens the door to doctors reviewing the incapacities before the periods stipulated previously and thus advancing the end of medical leave. However, it should be remembered that the amendment only relates to the deadlines for revision. Even if the review was carried out earlier, the doctor will have to extend the leave if he appreciates that the worker is still incapacitated.

In principle, the change should not be noticed too much in the shorter casualty (less than five days) in which the low and high communique is broadcast at the same medical event. For five- to 30-day casualties, the maximum deadline required by the previous rule for fixing the review was seven calendar days after the signing of the inability. The same period applies to the review of leave between 31 and 60 days. Finally, in incapacities of more than 61 days, the previous maximum review period was a maximum of 14 calendar days.

In any case, it should be remembered that the worker has the right to apply for medical examination on the day he is registered and also to ask for a review of his medical discharge within ten working days if he is not satisfied.

One million active casualties in October 2022

There are two main types of temporary disabilities:

  • The first – and most frequent – is what is known as common contingencies. In other words, sickness or accident leave you unrelated to the workplace. In this case, both the company and the worker contribute a part to the contribution on the payroll.
  • Secondly, there are the incapacities caused by professional contingencies, that is to say, diseases or accidents that are linked to the use of those who suffer them. This type of incapacity is less frequent and the price is exclusively paid by the company.

According to Social Security data, in October there were just over a million workers with a temporary disability process in place by the end of the month. Of these, the vast majority were salaried leavers for common contingencies. That is 46 out of every 1,000 of the workers protected by the system.

In addition, 77,160 other employees are on leave for work accidents and occupational illnesses (4 out of every 1,000 in total) and 124,636 self-employed workers (38 out of every 1,000 protected).

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