In a thorough legislative reform concerning occupational accidents and diseases, the Employment Accidents Insurance Act, the Occupational Diseases Act and the Rehabilitation Act were combined into a single act.
The new Workers’ Compensation Act entered into force at the beginning of 2016. The new act will apply to claim events that occur on 1 January 2016 or later. The three previous acts will continue to apply to occupational accidents and diseases that occurred or manifested earlier.
The new Workers’ Compensation Act only applies to work performed in return for pay or some other remuneration. The definition of employment relationship now complies with that provided in the Employment Contracts Act. The Act also redefines the meaning of self-employment, clarifying the difference between self-employed persons and employees.
The new Act contains nearly 300 sections. Detailed regulation increases unambiguity and transparency. For example, the requirement for medical causality between the accident and the compensable injury has now been entered in the Act.
New definition of occupational accident
The provisions on what constitutes a claim event compensable by the workers’ compensation insurance are more specific in the new Act than in the previous Employment Accidents Insurance Act.
This attention to detail is visible, for example, in that the new Act contains separate sections on accidents that have occurred at work, in the working area or outside the working area. There are also provisions on accidents that may occur during training, recreational events and health care appointments.
No essential changes to benefits
Benefits largely remain unchanged, and the present legal and compensation practices have been entered in the new Act. In compliance with the Constitution, the Act contains more detailed provisions than before.
Concerning the benefits, certain technical revisions were made, such as:
- The compensation paid for vocational rehabilitation is now called rehabilitation allowance rather than daily allowance or workers' compensation pension. However, the amount of rehabilitation allowance is determined on the same basis as the daily allowance or the pension.
- The handicap supplement is now called care allowance, but its amount and basis remain unchanged.
- Medical rehabilitation is compensable as medical treatment and not as rehabilitation as referred to in the Rehabilitation Act. However, this does not affect rehabilitation benefits.
The present established compensation practice has been considered in the new Act. For example, the compensation basis for post-traumatic stress disorder is included in the new Act.
As the handicap allowance rules were reformed in 2010, the proposed changes mainly concerned the method of payment. The handicap allowance, now called compensation for functional limitation, will be paid as a continuous compensation for disability category 6 and above. Previously, a one-time compensation was paid for disability categories 1-10.
I am an employer – What has changed?
- If the total annual wages and salaries you pay your employees exceed 1,200 euros, you have an obligation to take out statutory workers’ compensation insurance to cover your employees. In the new Act, the insurance obligation is no longer based on the number of working days performed but on the amount of euros paid to the employees in wages and salaries.
- If your employee has an accident at work or an occupational disease is suspected, you must notify your insurance company within 10 working days from the date you were informed of the matter.
- The Act specifies the cases when you as an employer are entitled to receive information and when you can appeal a compensation decision.
- The Workers’ Compensation Center, previously the Federation of Accident Insurance Institutions, supervises compliance with the insurance obligation. If you have not taken out an insurance policy, you will be both fined for negligence and required to pay a fee corresponding to the insurance premium for the neglected period.
I am an employee – What has changed?
- If you have an accident at work or an occupational disease is suspected, you will receive more information than previously about how your claim progresses in the insurance company. For example, you will be informed when the claim is instituted.
- You will receive the decision within 30 days from the date when the insurance company received all documentation required for the processing of your claim. Previously, the maximum processing time was three months.
- The new Act includes the calculation basis for annual earnings. The calculation method has become more transparent. It will be easier for you to check the amount of the annual earnings on which your compensation for loss of earnings will be based.
Self-employment and families – What has changed?
- The definition of self-employment was changed to correspond to that provided in the earnings-related pension legislation. If you have taken out a self-employed person’s pension insurance, you do not have to take out the compulsory insurance cover. However, you can still take out a voluntary self-employed person’s accident insurance policy.
- In that case, the confirmed income for your pension insurance is used as the annual earnings for your voluntary self-employed person’s accident insurance, on the basis of which you will be paid compensation for loss of earnings and other benefits.
- If your family member is self-employed and you have entered into an employment contract with him or her, you are usually covered by the compulsory insurance. Since you are an employee, you cannot be covered by the voluntary working hours insurance.