Sickness allowance

If you work in Germany and become ill, you are initially entitled to a maximum of 6 weeks’ continued payment of wages. If you are still ill after 6 weeks, you will receive a sickness allowance from your health insurance fund.

  • Please note: If you are privately insured, you must take out daily sickness allowance insurance yourself.
  • If you are compulsorily or voluntarily insured with a health insurance fund and you fall ill, you are entitled to a sickness allowance.

When am I entitled to a sickness allowance?

In case of incapacity for work, workers generally receive continued payment of wages from their employer for the first 6 weeks. During this time, the entitlement to the sickness allowance is suspended. During the first 4 weeks of employment, the health insurance pays directly.

If the employer refuses to pay during the 6 weeks, the health insurance pays a sickness allowance.

How much is my sickness allowance?

For employees, the amount of the sickness allowance depends on their salary paid before the onset of the incapacity for work.The payment is 70 per cent of the gross wage, but not more than 90 per cent of the net wage. The calculation also takes into account one-off payments made in the last 12 months before the incapacity for work.Social security contributions for pension, unemployment and long-term care insurance are deducted from the gross sick pay.No tax is payable on a sickness allowance in Germany, but it counts towards progression if you have other income in Germany. This can put you in a higher tax bracket. In Belgium, however, the municipal tax is probably calculated on it.

Will I also get a sickness allowance if my employment ends during my illness?

Yes, the German health insurance will continue to pay sickness allowance for up to 78 weeks. In that case, make sure that there are no interruptions between sick leaves, otherwise you will lose your entitlement.

Can I go on holiday while receiving a sickness allowance?

A sickness allowance can continue to be paid during your leave if you have received approval from your health insurance fund. Make sure that you submit the application to the health insurance fund in time (at least 3 weeks in advance).

What do I have to look out for in a rehabilitation measure?

If, according to medical advice, your earning potential is seriously threatened, the health insurance fund may ask you to apply for rehabilitation (called rehab or cure) within 10 weeks. If the application is not made within this period, the entitlement to a sickness allowance will be suspended.

Note: An application for rehabilitation can also be considered as an application for a reduced earning capacity pension.

What if you are no longer entitled to a sickness allowance?

A sickness allowance is paid for the same illness for a maximum of 78 weeks in a three-year period. The entitlement to sickness allowance is suspended during the period when wages are continued to be paid. This period is included in the 78-week period for the same illness. A new, different cause of illness does not extend the entitlement to a sickness allowance. After 78 weeks of sickness, one speaks of “Aussteuerung†[removal].

What happens when my entitlement to sickness allowance ends?

You can receive a sickness allowance for a maximum of 78 weeks. After that, it is called “Aussteuerungâ€. You may then be entitled to an Erbwerbsminderungsrente [reduced earning capacity pension] from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung [German pension insurance]. If you also had Belgian insurance periods in the past, the Belgian disability benefit will also be paid. For more information, see the reduced earning capacity pension.

If you are not incapacitated for work in Germany or in Belgium after the expiry of the sickness allowance, you are unemployed. If your employment contract is terminated, you are entitled to an unemployment benefit in Belgium. If the employment contract is still in force, you are entitled to an unemployment benefit in Germany from the Employment Agency (application for seamless benefits).

For more information, please contact an adviser at GrensInfoPunt.