Physicians/sick-leave certifiers: Q & A about the changes in rules for follow-up of absence due to illness

What do the proposed changes in the Working Environment Act and National Insurance Act regarding follow-up of employees on sick leave entail? Here are answers to 21 questions relating to the content of Proposition 89 L regarding quicker follow-up and sanctioning of breaches of the regulations when employees are ill.

1. When must I participate in dialogue meetings?

Answer: You have a duty to participate in dialogue meetings if summoned. Generally, you, as the sick-leave certifier, must participate in dialogue meetings under the auspices of the employer no later than within seven weeks of the first day of the sick leave, unless the employee does not wish for you to participate. During dialogue meetings under the auspices of NAV, you must participate if the agency considers it practical.

2. What can I contribute to the work to handle absence due to illness?

It is important that you consider whether a graded sick leave can be used. You will receive the follow-up plan from the employer after four weeks. This plan may provide an important basis for your assessment of the person on sick leave's opportunities for full or partial activity at the workplace. In the dialogue meetings, you can contribute to a dialogue where assessment of work capacity is a significant element.

3. What happens if I do not participate in dialogue meetings?

If NAV registers that you have not participated in ten dialogue meetings that you have been summoned to over a 24-month period, you will receive a letter of notification from the agency. If you have no valid reason to be absent from at least seven of those meetings, you may liable for an administrative fine of about NOK 10 000.

The general rule is that you have a duty to participate in dialogue meetings if summoned. However, the assessment of whether to impose sanctions will take into account extraordinary factors that have made it difficult to participate. Heavy work load is not is a valid reason not to attend in dialogue meetings.

If you have been charged with two fines for failure to participate within a 24-month period, then you may lose the right to issue sick-leave certificates as a basis for benefits from the Norwegian national insurance scheme for up to one year.

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