VILNIUS - According to a recent government proposal, workers that fall ill will not get paid for the first three days of their sick leave if they stay home, prompting fears that many will continue to work despite being sick. The move is expected to save significant sums of money for the State Social Insurance Fund Board (Sodra).
Unions are concerned where this could lead if workers decide to stay at work instead of resting.
"In Lithuania the average duration of sickness is around six days. So the government, in order to remove pay of the days, wants to remove half of real income, which, of course, leads to protests and discontent 's it destroys the possibility to be sick and spend some days to take care of your health without worries [about] your income," Arturas Cernauskas, president of the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation, told TBT.
"It will affect workers' behavior, because, workers will go to work even if they are sick. It can even affect their co-workers," he added.
Social Minister Rimantas Jonas Dagys said everything would be like it used to be. Employers will pay sick leave for the employee for two days and after the first three days Sodra will pay 85 percent of an average payment for work for further days.
According to the minister, it would help to save 175 million litas (51.27 million euros).
"It would also allow solving the current problem of abuse of paid sick-leave," Dagys said.
The cuts accompany a government proposal to cut Sodra payments to second pillar pension funds, a move commended by the European Commission.
To close Sodra's financial gap, the government has decided to reduce second pillar pension contributions from the government department from 3 to 2 percent 's a move which has angered second pillar fund managers.
In doing so, the government abandoned plans to ask the funds to return the money to the Sodra fund.
Reduced payments transferred to second pillar pension funds would be enforced only for two years or until the end of the economic crisis.
According to Dagys, pension funds have not fulfilled their obligations, including investing into securities, reducing administration expenses, and advertising themselves.
Estonia has also made similar moves to reduce second pillar pensions.
Second pillar pension funds are the supplementary and often funding-based occupational pensions that complement the mandatory pay-as-you-go state pension and personal savings.