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European sick pay: which countries come out on top?

Sick pay has become a contentious topic in recent times, with countless Europeans required to take time off work to recover from illness as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. However, there’s very little consistency across Europe, in terms of sick pay, with some nations offering benefits far better than their continental neighbours.

Undertaking research to reveal the sick pay packages of every European nation, The Compensation Experts has been able to rank each on how well they compensate their nationals in times of ill health. Read on to discover which country tops the charts and uncover the final standings.

Icelandic sick pay package considered the best in Europe

According to our research, Iceland leads the way in Europe for their workers’ sick pay package. Employees across the Nordic island are entitled to an impressive 100% of their wage for a minimum of two days for every month they’ve been in employment. However, Icelandic workers’ unions usually step in if a citizen exceeds their entitlement.

Trailing closely, fellow Northern European nations Norway and Denmark also offer acclaimed sick pay entitlement; each provides nationals with 100% of their salary, with the Norwegian government covering a worker for up to a year, and Danes covered for up to 22 weeks within a nine-month period. Similarly, citizens of Luxembourg are also treated to their full salary when sick, for up to 89 weeks, while Austrians are allowed 100% pay for their first 12 weeks off work.

Despite sitting top of the European GDP tree, powerhouse Germany sits just outside the top five in terms of offering an effective sick pay package for workers, allowing between 70-100% entitlement for up to 84 weeks. Rounding off the top ten European nations, according to their sick pay mandate, we have Finland, Switzerland, Monaco, and Montenegro, who all offer employees off-work compensation in the region of 70-100% of their salary for varying time frames. Particularly impressively, Swiss citizens are able to claim sick pay for up to two years.

British sick pay entitlement among the worst in Europe

As far as poor sick pay packages go, the UK offers one of the worst entitlements across the continent, with employees eligible for only £96.35 per week, for up to 28 weeks. The UK government’s involvement also ceases after just the fourth day of absence, after which the employer is required to step in and continue payments. Astonishingly, though, the Maltese and Irish are treated to even worse, with the latter nation not even having any legal sick pay obligation in place.

Neighbouring Central-Eastern nations Slovakia and Ukraine are also among the worst for workers needing time off work. Ukrainians, in particular, can be put in a difficult position in instances of severe illness; while there’s no formal timeline, and the country’s Social Security Fund will cover a citizen for as long as a doctor prescribes, employees can be legally fired from their job if off work ill for longer than four months.

Big money nations across the continent in France, Italy, Russia, and Spain also sit lowly, all positioned well outside the top 20 for sick pay for their respective nation’s workers. The best of a bad bunch, though, Spain are positioned 28th continentally, with Spanish employees entitled to up to 75% of their salary for up to 78 weeks.

We’ve outlined the complete overall sick pay standings below:

European rankCountryMinimum sick payMaximum sick payMaximum period
1Iceland100%100%2 days for each week worked
2Norway100%100%52 weeks
3Luxembourg100%100%89 weeks
4Denmark100%100%30 days + 22 weeks
5Austria50%100%78 weeks
6Germany70%100%84 weeks
7Finland70%100%44 weeks
8Switzerland80%100%103 weeks
9Monaco€146.67 per day / 90% salary€146.67 per day / 90% salaryDetermined by employee contract
10Montenegro70%100%65 days*
11Lichtenstein80%80%104 weeks
12Belgium25.88100%52 weeks
13Bosnia and Herzegovina80%80%52 weeks
14Belarus80%100%150 days
15Albania70%80%28 weeks
16Slovenia80%80%30 days*
17Sweden77.60%80%52 weeks
18Croatia70%100%Unlimited
19Netherlands70%70%104 weeks
20North Macedonia70%90%30 days*
21Bulgaria70%80%78 weeks
22Latvia75%80%52 weeks
23Romania75%75%40 weeks
24Serbia65%100%30 days*
25Hungary60%70%54 weeks
26Estonia70%70%26 weeks
27Poland70%100%31 weeks
28Spain60%75%78 weeks
29Lithuania62.06%100%13 weeks
30Czech Republic60%72%56 weeks
31Cyprus60%Varies upon social insurance46 weeks
32Portugal55%75%156 weeks
33Russia50%100%Determined by a doctor
34Andorra53%66%156 weeks
35Greece50%100%Length of employment dependent
36Italy50%66%26 weeks
37France50%50%26 weeks
38Slovakia25%55%53 weeks
39Ukraine50%100%5 days*
40United Kingdom£96.35 per week£96.35 per week28 weeks
41IrelandNo legal minimum sick pay100%Determined by employee contract
42Malta€420.30 per month.€420.30 per month.22 weeks

Methodology

Analysing the sick pay packages across every European nation, our experts ranked each according to their respective minimum and maximum pay and the timeframe an employee is entitled to claim. Minimum and maximum pay is a percentage of an employee’s salary, unless specified.

*This is the period an employer pays for a citizen’s sick pay. Beyond this, the state continues to pay until a full recovery, or an employee is deceased.