Getting sick happens to the best of us, and it's never at a convenient time. If you're employed in Germany, you're legally entitled to paid sick leave for up to 6 weeks, but only if you can present a sick note or “Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung” from your doctor. Find out what to do when you get sick.
Call your employer
Feeling unfit to work? You should notify your employer as soon as possible. You’re not legally obliged to tell your employer what you're suffering from, but you might be asked when you presume to be fit to work again. Important: find out when you’re expected to hand in a sick note. Some companies already require a sick note after one day of sick leave.
Make a doctor’s appointment
Make an appointment with your doctor, ideally on the first day of sick leave. By law, he or she has to verify and evaluate your symptoms on the first day, in order to write a sick note or “Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung”. Only as an exception will the doctor write a retroactive sick note, for instance when the doctor’s office was closed on the first day of sick leave.
The sick note or “Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung” is written by your doctor and states the amount of days you’ll presumably be unfit to work. One of the sheets should be sent to your health insurer, the other is for your employer ─ this part does not state the diagnosis. By law, you should hand the sick note to your employer on the fourth day of your sick leave at the latest, but your company can request it earlier: consult your contract.
Do I always need a sick note?
In short: yes, it is advisable to get a sick note, even if you presume you’ll only be sick for one or two days. You're legally obliged to hand a sick note to your employer only if your sick leave lasts more than three days, but if you happen to stay sick for longer, you will need proof that you were sick before already. Importantly, some companies require their employees to hand in a sick note already after one day of leave: it’s best to consult your company on this.
Long-term sick leave
You're legally entitled to six weeks of continuous sick leave paid by your employer, after which your health insurer will take over the costs. If you've had sick leave for the same illness multiple times in the same year, these days will be accumulated. After six weeks of regular paid sick leave, you’ll receive “Krankengeld” (a maximum of 90 per cent of your wage after taxes) for up to 72 weeks.