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More information and instructions

Instructions for employers

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SAFETY AT WORK 

Companies are constantly monitoring and maintaining safe working practices at the current stage of the coronavirus pandemic. With this in mind, companies must have a contingency plan including appropriate operating models and guidelines for the use of masks, enhanced hygiene, safety distances and the necessary protection, amongst other things. In support of this work, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health provides guidelines that employers should follow: ttl.fi/en/fioh-coronavirus-instructions/

Safe working requires an up-to-date risk assessment that takes particular account of exposure to the coronavirus. Based on a risk assessment, an action plan can be drawn up, and workplace guidelines and procedures can be supplemented as necessary to remove risks or minimise exposure. A good plan also takes account of the fluctuations of the pandemic in advance.

Occupational healthcare services can help in these efforts by carrying out workplace surveys on the risks of the coronavirus epidemic with the company. Among the matters to be covered by such surveys are consideration of risk groups and a possible testing strategy in the event of symptoms. A workplace survey is a good basis for updating a risk assessment. Please contact your company’s designated occupational health nurse regarding workplace surveys.

SELF-REPORTING PRACTICES

We strongly recommend flexible practices for our customers regarding absences from work due to sickness, with broader self-reporting of absences. We also recommend that remotely issued sick leave certificates be accepted by employers. Please ensure that occupational healthcare services has continuously up-to-date information on your company’s practices.

Under the self-reporting policy, an employee may stay at home based on a self-report of illness if they get sick and their supervisor gives permission to be off work due to the illness. The length of this absence will be determined by the employer. Employees are responsible for their own health, and should contact the health services if symptoms persist or worsen.

CERTIFICATE OF ABSENCE DUE TO SICKNESS

Occupational healthcare services issues certificates of absence from work only in the event of inability to work, i.e. when the employee has been diagnosed with an illness.  Persons who suspect that they have been asymptomatically exposed to the coronavirus should stay at home in quarantine-like conditions for 10 days in usual cases. This period is not considered sick leave, and the occupational healthcare services therefore cannot issue sick leave certificates for that period. The company itself must provide guidelines on matters including the payment of wages in such situations.

OTHER QUESTIONS

  • If an employee is officially diagnosed with coronavirus, the person or authority that carried out the test will provide instructions on tracing those who have been exposed, amongst other matters. However, it is important for employers to plan and provide instructions in advance regarding the internal information responsibilities and processes of their own company for dealing with possible cases of coronavirus infection.
  • In the event of unconfirmed (untested) coronavirus suspicions, the company itself must determine the necessary measures on a case-by-case basis. Such measures may include cleaning the employee’s workstation or transferring colleagues to quarantine-like conditions or remote work. There is no need to report unconfirmed suspected cases of coronavirus to the authorities.
  • Based on the dangers and a risk assessment, it may be agreed with employees who are in a high-risk group to temporarily transfer them to tasks where the risk of infection is lower than in their current tasks.
  • Healthcare professionals will issue instructions and permission to return to work for those who are returning to work after an officially confirmed coronavirus infection. For other illnesses, normal practice is followed – in other words, the person can return to work when they are completely healthy and asymptomatic.
  • Employees’ right to use occupational health services, for example during lay-offs, depends on the employer’s policy in this regard. We recommend supporting employees’ work ability and wellbeing at work even during lay-offs.

Instructions for employees

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We recommend the use of the Koronavilkku contact tracing mobile application. If the app notifies you of possible exposure to the coronavirus, it will provide instructions for further action.

CERTIFICATE OF ABSENCE DUE TO SICKNESS

  • If you get sick, first check if your employer has agreed on a self-reporting policy.
  • Self-reporting means that in the event of an illness that does not require an immediate healthcare professional’s assessment, you can be absent from work by agreement with your supervisor.
  • In such cases, it is unnecessary to contact the occupational healthcare services.
  • If you have used up the self-reporting period days for sick leave, but you do not yet feel fit to return to work, contact your occupational healthcare services (see instructions below).
  • Occupational healthcare services issues certificates of absence from work only in the event of inability to work, i.e. when the employee has been diagnosed with an illness. In the event of a suspected exposure to the coronavirus, asymptomatic persons should usually remain at home in quarantine-like conditions for 10 days. This period is not considered sick leave, and the occupational healthcare services therefore cannot issue sick leave certificates for that period. Find out your employer’s instructions regarding salary payment and other matters in such cases.
  • In the event of a confirmed infection, the decision on absence from work, isolation or quarantine is always made by a medical specialist in infectious diseases, not by an occupational health doctor.
  • If an asymptomatic family member is at home under quarantine-like conditions, either due to a trip abroad or suspected exposure to the coronavirus, other family members may go to work as normal. However, if the person suspected of exposure exhibits symptoms, all family members must remain at home under quarantine-like conditions.
  • If you have respiratory symptoms, it is recommended to stay at home.
  • If you belong to a high-risk group, inform your employer of this and provide proof of it if necessary, using information available from the kanta.fi website, for example. Kanta provides digital services for the social welfare and healthcare sector. Belonging to a risk group is not in itself sufficient reason for sick leave. However, the person may agree with their employer to be temporarily transferred to tasks where the risk of infection is lower than at present.

DO YOU SUSPECT YOU HAVE THE CORONAVIRUS?

Symptoms of coronavirus infection include cough, fever and shortness of breath. Common cold viruses and influenza cause similar symptoms.

  • If you suspect you have the coronavirus, assess your symptoms using the symptom questionnaire provided by the Finnish Medical Society Duodecim. The questionnaire provides instructions based on your answers.
  • A referral for a coronavirus test may be provided on the basis of a doctor’s assessment if the patient has symptoms that are indicative of the coronavirus in accordance with the latest criteria of the National Institute for Health and Welfare.

 

WHEN AND HOW TO CONTACT OCCUPATIONAL HEALTHCARE SERVICES

  1. If you suffer from a respiratory infection (or other condition), check with your supervisor if it is possible to report your own absence from work due to illness. Ask your supervisor about your company’s policy on self-reporting of absences from work due to sickness.
  2. If your company does not have a self-reporting policy, or the limit to the number of days of self-reported absence from work has been met, but you need a certificate of sick leave and/or treatment instructions, contact your occupational health nurse via eApila, call Apila Helppi, or contact our customer services.
  3. Please do not come to our locations without having made an appointment in advance. We can assess your situation by phone and provide advice on further help if necessary.