According to the position published on February 27th, 2018, by the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers, the introduction of mandatory electronic sick leaves is a step in the progressive direction of digitalisation of the healthcare which must be assessed positively.
From July 1st, 2018, the only effective form of issuing a sick leave will be an electronic document. Until now, doctors have had a choice between writing a traditional sick leave on paper or writing an electronic sick leave entry in the IT system.
“The data we have at our disposal indicates that doctors rarely make use of the electronic option,” said Marcin Nowacki, vice-president of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers. “In 2016, almost 500,000 electronic sick leaves were issued. It may seem to be a large number, but at the same time, there were almost 20 million sick leaves written on paper. This data shows well how unpopular e-sick leaves are at the moment.”
The system currently in force, in which the paper form is still dominant, has many disadvantages. First of all, the circulation of physical paper documents consumes more time and work than the exchange of information by electronic means. In case of the second option, the information regarding the sick leave appears immediately in the employer’s IT system. In addition to inconvenient formal and bureaucratic obligations, the current legal situation also causes far-reaching financial consequences that constitute a burden primarily for employers. Entrepreneurs pay as much as PLN 860 thousand annually in payments related to sick leaves covering a period of up to 7 days. It is in their case that the scale of fraud is highest.
“The sick leave issued by a doctor in paper form must be provided to the employer within 7 days of its issue,” Nowacki added. “Therefore, sick leaves covering a period of less than 7 days are de facto beyond anyone’s control. We deal with cases of fraud in this area and as a consequence thereof, entrepreneurs lose real money.”
In addition to financial issues, the position draws attention to the fact that entrepreneurs, when they receive information about their employee’s sickness immediately after it’s been issued, will be able to find replacement for an employee absent due to illness much quicker. The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers emphasises that it supports all solutions for digitalisation of healthcare, including the introduction of mandatory electronic sick leaves. It is worth noting that e-sick leaves are only an element of a broader package of reforms, which also include the introduction of e-prescriptions. The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers hopes that the informatisation and digitisation of Polish healthcare will go further, because ultimately everyone gains from the implementation of innovative solutions – from doctors, who will spend increasingly less time carrying out administrative duties, through entrepreneurs, to the most important participants of the whole system, that is, the patients themselves.