No more "gelber Schein" as sick notes in Germany go digital

No more "gelber Schein" as sick notes in Germany go digital

All together now: Hurrah! Sick notes in Germany are finally going digital! The so-called “Gelber Schein”, officially known as an “Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung” (incapacity to work certificate), is going to be abolished and replaced by an electronic certificate from 2021. 

Taking sick leave in Germany complicated by bureaucracy

The German federal cabinet has voted to abolish the paper sick leave note and replace it with a digital certificate. The measure was part of the “Bureaucratic Relief Act”, put to the cabinet by Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy in the federal republic.  

Anyone working in Germany who contributes towards statutory health insurance is entitled to claim up to 78 weeks of sickness benefit in the event of their being unable to work due to illness. Up until now, however, getting one’s hands on the benefit has been something of a palaver. 

If you wish to take sick leave, you must pay a visit to your doctor to obtain an incapacity certificate (Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung). The certificate consists of several sheets of paper; one must be submitted to your employer, the other to your health insurance provider, and one is for your personal records. 

New digital sick note streamlines process

The passing of the new bill means that the incapacity certificate will be transmitted digitally for all insured persons in the future. Your doctor will, therefore electronically inform your health insurance provider about your inability to work and the expected duration of your condition. They will then pass the message on to your employer. It will all be done digitally and without you having to lift a finger. 

The regulation is due to come into force on January 1, 2021, after which millions of people - not to mention employers, doctors and health insurance funds - will benefit from the streamlined process. According to the Central Association of Statutory Health Insurance (SHI), around 77 million incapacity certificates were issued in Germany in 2017 alone. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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