Doctor Advocates for Puuilo’s Free Model, Questions Proof of Illness Without Physical Examination

Doctor Advocates for Puuilo’s Free Model, Questions Proof of Illness Without Physical Examination

Jan Schugk, the Senior Physician at Varma, urges employers to put trust in their employees when it comes to reporting sick leaves. He asserts that self-reported sick leaves can foster trust within the workplace, promote recovery, and does not significantly increase costs.

Schugk’s comments came in response to the model adopted by Puuilo company, which has garnered significant interest. Under this model, an employee can self-report sick leave for up to five days and take leaves for other reasons by informing their supervisor. This practice has resulted in a reduction in unnecessary doctor visits.

He encourages workplaces to follow this model, thereby increasing trust across the board. He also points out that allowing employees to rest at home during illnesses, such as the flu, can speed up recovery and prevent the spread of infections.

Jan Schugk joined Varma in 2018. Prior to this, he worked for the employer organization EK where he championed the benefits of trust-based absenteeism models for companies. He believes that in recent years, self-reporting practices have become more prevalent in Finnish working life.

Research conducted by The National Institute of Occupational Health in 2016 found that self-reporting practices led to an increase in short absences but a decrease in the duration of absence periods. It also resulted in fewer visits to occupational health care, allowing such resources to be redirected elsewhere.

According to Schugk, the requirement for employees to see a doctor on the first day of sick leave often represents an unnecessary and inefficient control method. He suggests that self-declaration can apply to certain diagnoses and that requiring certificates for short absences due to illnesses like the flu can place an unnecessary burden on health centres and emergency rooms.

In the Puilo model, Schugk commends the provision that allows employees to take leave in the event of a personal crisis by simply notifying their supervisor. He reiterates that the self-declaration does not mean supervisors should act as doctors, and that the onus of notification lies with the employee. He also adds that a medical certificate may still be requested in some cases if there are suspicions of misuse.

In comparison with other Nordic countries, Finnish employers and legislation place themselves at the stricter end of the spectrum. Other Nordic countries have statutory rights to self-declaration, requiring a medical certificate only after a certain period of absence.